Mas Espagnol

I’ve been listening to my Spanish CDs and have discovered I remember some basic vocabulary from 3 years of high school Spanish.

I can master “buenos dias”.

Although I’ll probably be hopeless actually putting together a sentence, I think I can understand some basic conversation.

Peppermint Patty has her Charlie and I have mine.

Now I must memorize some Latin music so I can have it ready for collaboration in an island setting.

I don’t do hip hop or rap so 3 traditional songs that come to mind are:

Guantanamera  (English translation here)


Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera
Guantanamera, guajira, guantanamera
Yo soy un hombre sincero, de donde crece la palma
Yo soy un hombre sincero, de donde crece la palma
Y antes de morir yo quiero cantar mis versos del alma
Cultivo una rosa blanca, en julio como en enero
Cultivo una rosa blanca, en julio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero, que me da su mano franca
[Estribillo] (2x)
Mi verso es de un verde claro, y de un carmín encendido
Mi verso es de un verde claro, y de un carmín encendido
Mi verso es un ciervo herido, que busca en el monte amparo
Quizás, Quizás, Quizás (English translation here)

Siempre que te pregunto

Que, cuándo, cómo y dónde
Tú siempre me respondes
Quizás, quizás, quizás
Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás
Estás perdiendo el tiempo
Pensando, pensando
Por lo que más tú quieras
¿Hasta cuándo? ¿Hasta cuándo?
Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás
Besame Mucho  (English translation here)
Besame mucho
Como si fuera ésta noche
La última vez
Besame, besame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después
Quiero tenerte muy cerca
Mirarme en tus ojos
Verte junto a mi
Piensa que tal vez mañana
Yo ya estaré lejos,
Muy lejos de ti
Besame mucho
Como si fuera ésta noche
La última vez
Besame, besame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después
This little project should keep me busy even though I tend to learn music and lyrics quickly. Charlie can probably play these three tunes by ear even though a Latin beat sometimes eludes him.  That’s why we’re going to study.
Any more song suggestions?

Galette des Rois

After looking at a few here is the recipe I chose to make a Galette des Rois, Kings’ Cake.

Galette des Rois

Sug and I worked together to make 2 Kings’ Cakes.

Sug rolled out puff pastry that I bought frozen.

We used frozen puff pastry and had to roll it out just a little to make it large enough to cut a round using a large frying pan lid as a pattern.

Chopped orange peel.

In addition to almond flour, butter, eggs, and sugar the seasoning included almond extract, vanilla extract (instead of the recipe’s suggestion of rum) and orange zest.

The filling is fluffy and holds its shape.

Filling is put on the bottom round with a margin which is them brushed with water so the top and bottom pastries will stick together.

The top pastry is carefully fit over the filling.

We put the cakes together with the filling inside and refrigerated them overnight so we could serve them warm the next day at our party. I cut a design into the unbaked dough with a sharp knife.

Both Sug and I tried our hands at crimping the edges as described in the recipe.  Nothing leaked out.

Just before baking I glazed the pastry with egg yolk/milk carefully avoiding the edges so they would puff up.

The top is glazed with an egg yolk and mixture.

This recipe is subtly delicious.  I could eat it every day with coffee if I had to.  Delicious.  Like an almond croissant in Paris.

A seriously elegant recipe.

We made 2 galettes and  only have a few pieces remaining. I’ll make this again.

Do you have a favorite pastry? Do you buy it or make it?

Epiphany Mantel

I created a special mantel over the fireplace for our party celebrating the 3 wise men.

The caravan always comes from the east.

It had camels, magi, candles, and an oriental-style vase.

Tall grass has interesting seed heads.

The whole scene needed some height and movement so I asked a friend if I could harvest some of his tall grass.

Epiphany theme mantel.

Now it’s time to put all vestiges of Christmas away for a few seasons.

Some of the best things are just simple.

I’ll probably keep the grasses out for a while longer but the Christmas tree is going in storage.

What’s your next holiday?

Charlie’s Leg of Lamb

I received a 12-pound leg of lamb as a gift from work.

Charlie rubbed the lamb all over with olive oil.

Charlie has roasted this major piece of meat before and so I enlisted his expertise again.

Charlie topped off our pot of rosemary and chopped it in a small electric coffee grinder.

In addition to the lamb he needed garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The lamb covered with olive oil, salt, and pepper readily browned under the broiler.

First he rubbed the lamb all over with olive oil then put it under the broiler for 5 minutes on each side until it was brown.

The lamb is covered with rosemary and garlic in olive oil.

Then he rubbed the lamb with a mixture of chopped fresh rosemary and garlic in olive oil.

The leg of lamb is ready for the oven.

Once the broiled lamb was covered in garlic and rosemary it was put into the oven at 325 degrees under an aluminum foil tent.

The cooked lamb rested before being carved.

When the oven thermometer inserted into the lamb reached 145 degrees Charlie took the lamb out of the oven and let it rest for about half an hour under its foil tent.

Ultimately the lamb was carved from the center, not the end.

When Charlie made the first slice we all wanted a taste.

145 degrees internal temperature made the lamb perfectly done to our liking.

Charlie carved most of the leg and we used it for small sandwiches on fresh rolls.

Are your kitchen knives sharp?

January Epiphany Party: The Menu

Epiphany is Saturday. I had to pin down the menu so I could get the shopping finished before the weekend.

Magi statuettes adorn the mantel.

This holiday is called the Feast of the Epiphany although we’re not planning an actual meal since our party doesn’t begin until 7 p.m.

I have a supply of oranges and cranberries for decorations also.
The menu:
  • Leg of lamb with pepper jelly and rolls

    A whole leg of lamb — garlic and rosemary is de rigueur
  • Kings’ Cake/Galette des rois
  • Clementine segments
  • Chicken sausage
  • Chocolate candy wrapped in gold (gold)
  • Toffee popcorn (frankincense)

    If you use your imagination frankincense looks like popcorn.
  • Dried apricots and superfruit baobab bites rolled in powdered sugar (myrrh)
  • Hot spiced cider tea
  • Coffee, tea, Glade Fizz
We have fresh rosemary growing in pots in the yard.

Charlie usually makes the lamb which is roasted with garlic and rosemary.

We’re going to attempt to make Galette des Rois using a recipe by David Lebovitz.

Sug and I are going to try our hand at Kings’ Cake — making the almond filling and using frozen puff pastry.

We’ll be using my favorite tablecloth for this party but will change the roses to warm yellow and the candles to cream.

I’m sure party participants will also bring some goodies.  They always do.

Favorite party recipe?

List, 2018: January Plans

January, 2018. Finally. December was a really long and trying month. I won’t write a separate post bout December’s progress because basically everything proposed in this post was accomplished.

Now I’m planning my first month of the new year. It promises to be different.


The main exertion of January is to pull together all files and financials from the previous year.

I use a Net Worth template similar to this which I keep current monthly.

That’s my exertion at work and at home.  Everything must be accomplished by the end of the month — payroll forms, business tax reconciliations, general ledger spreadsheets.


I’m going to outline our thesis for studying Latin music. Charlie and I have the opportunity to research music for a week firsthand on an island in the Caribbean.

We also expect to learn how music fits into the life of the country.

We’re really excited to add salsa, mambo, and cha cha cha to our repertoire and to learn the origins and modern players.

We will also be brushing up on our Spanish this month.


Feast of the Epiphany party on January 6.

Invitations have been sent.


Listening to lots of musica latina (Latin music).

Hoping to have enough music under our belt to take some lessons — Charlie on keys. I plan to learn some vocals.

Exterior Outsourcing 

Medical tests for my doctor who is determined to keep my chart up-to-date.  That’s why I rarely visit him. He seems to think I’m getting older.


I plan to return to the gym early in the month.  I am now pneumonia-free and have regained much of my energy. I need to be ready to do a lot of walking early in February.

I had advanced to level 12 before my December decline.


Easy and Economical Favor

We’re having a party on January 6th celebrating the arrival of 3 kings to the Christ child.

We’re planning to chalk our front door.

One tradition often observed on this day is the chalking of the door. The front door of the house is marked with chalk either on the door or over the door with the year and three initials in this format: 20+C+M+B+18.

A simple party favor.

The letters above the door stand for the initials of the Magi – Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar, and also stands for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for “May Christ bless this house.”

I printed 10 tags to a sheet on yellow card stock.

I made tags with the Publisher program — 10 to a sheet — printed back and front.  The tags tell the meaning of the initials on the door and have a blessing on the reverse to recite while marking the door.

The chalk can be any color — I chose white.

I purchased some simple white chalk — 16 pieces for 99 cents — and tied on the tags with black and white string.

A simple blessing covers both the structure and every person who lives within or visits.

I hope to have a few left over to give to some special friends who are unable to attend the party.

Do you have any special rituals that you follow at your home?