Ah…the lazy, hazy days of summer! No better time to invite a few friends or neighbors to an outdoor tea party. Impromptu or planned, it’s easier than you may think. Set up a portable table in a corner of your yard or patio, or cover the picnic table with a colorful cloth and floral-pattern paper party napkins. For a centerpiece, gather blooms from your own garden (or from the local farmer’s market) and place in a vintage pitcher or vase. Even a few interesting-shaped branches will do. Lemons or limes placed in a clear glass bowl also make a lovely centerpiece for an outdoor theme party. For a more natural look, look for a few smooth, medium-sized stones and lay down the center of the table on a layer of moss (available from most craft or flower shops.) Intersperse votive candles among the stones to cast a warm glow. If you wish, you can even hang a chandelier or colorful paper lanterns from branches of a tree. Vintage teacups in a floral pattern and mismatched teaspoons add an elegant, yet fun and casual flair. Plus, they can be collected throughout the year at thrift sales and antique stores.
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil, tarragon, or mint
8 slices wheat bread
1 piece (4 inches) cucumber, very thinly sliced into rounds
2 radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons softened butter
Place cream cheese and herbs in bowl; stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Spread cream cheese on 4 slices of bread; layer with cucumber and radish slices. Spread remaining slices of bread with butter. Place, butter side facing down, on radishes. Trim crusts; cut sandwiches in half.