I am a hardened tea drinker. I think there are about 40 varieties of tea in my tea cupboard (yes, the tea has it's own cupboard). I will drink hot tea when it's 90 degrees and I will drink iced tea in a blizzard. I just love tea, of all kinds, hot or iced, in any weather. But my usual way of drinking tea is a mug or two in the morning while I'm doing other things. I am always "fizzing around" (as my mother says)... I am one of those people who have to work at relaxing. One of my long-term "life WIPs" is learning to relax; not just to stop, but to relax.
I've had a favorite teacup for many years. Several years ago I bought a little teapot to match it. And they just sat in a cupboard. Why? Oh, lots of the usual reasons a busy person has for not taking an extra 30-45 minutes to do something just for them. That 30-45 minutes could be used to... do something else that needs doing. One of the things I constantly have to remind myself of is that relaxing is "something else that needs doing." For years I struggled with this concept to the point that I wouldn't sit and stitch unless everything else was done. While I've gotten better about allowing myself stitching time, I can always stand further improvement.
A couple of months ago I bought a tea tray. A few weeks after that, I found a couple of tea towels that match my teacup and teapot. Last week I found and ordered an adorable little creamer & sugar set. (Do you see me slowly and carefully sneaking up on this relaxation thing?)
At long last... behold! My tea tray:
The magic of this tea tray is that it is one of the very few things that can bring me to a screeching halt. It has that weird sedative/stimulant effect that stitching has. It is at the same time both calming and invigorating. Perhaps it is invigorating because it is calming. It makes sense as the reverse of the effect it is meant to counter: busyness is draining. Pressing the pause button on busyness allows time for our batteries to recharge. Everyone knows this... the trick is finding not just what makes you stop, but what makes you relax.
I was pondering all of this and I realized that for me, there is much about taking the time to make up a proper tea tray that resembles getting a project ready to stitch: putting together my favorite things, getting everything prepared, anticipating the enjoyment of sitting quietly and doing something that relaxes me. With stitching, collecting my supplies is one of my favorite parts of the process. I've learned that taking the time to prepare a pretty tea tray is just as much fun as actually sitting down and drinking my tea. The preparation time (a whole five minutes!) was partially what was keeping me from indulging--"I'll just boil the kettle and have a quick mug"--and yet it's the preparation time that heightens the enjoyment. It feels special. Things that are special take time, as every stitcher knows.
Here's my favorite teacup... a thick, heavy, diner china. I have a gorgeous tea set of Russian porcelain that was a wedding gift, but for my every day tea tray, this is my favorite. It was made by Sterling China of Ohio.
Here's my fat little teapot in a cheerful cobalt blue. I can get three cups out of this, which is just perfect for just me. This teapot comes in lots of colors and is available here.
My tiny new creamer & sugar set... the perfect size to fit on my tea tray, available on Amazon.
And a sweet little spoon rest I've had for years. I don't remember where it came from.
And that's my magical tea tray. It's very simple, very inexpensive, very casual. The most valuable things about it are the time invested in it and the calm it creates... just like my stitching.