If You Like Strawberries . . .

Let me preface this post by saying I love tiramisu.

Lady fingers soaked in coffee with mascarpone cheese, eggs, and whipped cream is traditional tiramisu.

However, I was looking for an easy dessert that featured some springtime lightness.

The lady fingers are dipped into a mixture of strawberry preserves, water, and balsamic vinegar.

Into a google search I put the words: cream, strawberries, lady fingers.  The result was a recipe for strawberry tiramisu.

These lady fingers, also called

The most difficult part of the recipe was finding the hard ladyfingers; I searched 4 grocery stores until I finally located them.

This layered dessert is easy to assemble.

It takes no cooking or baking and has no raw eggs.

The crispy lady fingers soften up overnight.

I thought the recipe was worth a try since it only needs to be assembled and can be made a day in advance.

Happily the third dish of dessert was left for us to eat after the party.

If you’re only serving one dessert, this is THE one.

What’s your go-to dessert?

Beef Brisket for a Crowd

I like brisket but I’ve never made one before today.

I cut the brisket in half so it would fit in the pot.

For tomorrow’s party I cooked a 4.5 pound brisket.

The pieces browned in the oven while I made the very simple tomato sauce.

First I let it come to room temperature (about an hour). I couldn’t decide whether to cook it in my large paella pan or cut it in half to braise in a Dutch oven.  I decided on the Dutch oven so I wouldn’t have to fool with foil.

I used unsalted crushed tomatoes from Trader Joe’s.

Then, following this recipe, I browned the meat in the oven while making the sauce.

Fresh rosemary smells so nice.

I used fresh rosemary from my pots near the porch and chopped it in a small electric herb grinder. I used about half the herbs and spices since my piece of meat was about half size.

The recipe makes a ton of sauce which would be good on rice or quinoa.

I replaced the wine in the sauce with bone broth because my family doesn’t like wine-flavored sauces.

The meat cooked for about 4 hours and is very tender.

The brisket cooked for 4 hours and came out nice and tender.  I let it cool then put it in the refrigerator.

I ate a little bowl of the spicy sauce.

The sauce is delicious and very spicy.  Instead of blending the sauce smooth I decided I like it chunky.  Tomorrow we’ll heat up the sauce and serve the meat at room temperature.

When was the last time you cooked a piece of beef?

Party Dinner Menu for Early May

We’re having a get-together on Saturday for which I’ve promised dinner.

Tags for the party favors — small plants for each guest.

I wanted a menu that doesn’t take much last minute prep because Charlie, Sug, and I each have a role in the preliminary part of the celebration.

The first part of the party will take place in the lower yard — a little risky.

I’ve updated my preliminary menu which was actually slated for last autumn.  Most items are the same except for the nod to spring in the dessert.

The oven will be in use for hours.

Menu:

  • Salad with baby greens, grapes, roasted beets, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette
  • Beef brisket 
  • Baked penne and cheese
  • Rolls
  • Strawberry Tiramisu

    Strawberries have been very good this spring.
  • Coffee, tea, iced tea

With Sug’s help I plan to cook on Friday afternoon and evening including preparing the dessert.  I think we’re expecting about 25 people and not everyone is staying for dinner so some recipes will need to be doubled and others tripled.

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

May Day! May Day!

The title sounds like a call for help because I’ve packed the month of May with enough tasks to fill a year.  Thankfully my team — Charlie and Sug — plus my son and his wife are committed to a long, desperate summer’s worth of to-do lists.  The fun will start in May.

More or less in order of what’s about to happen we’ll be doing the following:

Revival: 

Party on Saturday:  The Dedication of the Chapel at the Glade.

We’re hoping for good weather for our chapel dedication.

The program is set, the menu is set, the guest list is set — time for the party.

Ready:

We will need the guest room — my son’s old bedroom — for weekly visits from him due to his work schedule.  He plans to stay overnight once a week instead of driving back and forth to the Eastern shore of Maryland, 2.5 hours away.

We’ll be welcoming overnight guests very soon.

There are a few more items in the back room that need to be distributed or done away with.  We’re planning to finish up the guest room (#9 on the 101 in 1001).

Relax:

Charlie and I will be spending long weekend at beach (#24 on the 101 in 1001).  Charlie has to play the piano for some meetings but I am just going along for the ride.

We’ll be staying near Cape May, New Jersey.

We’ll be staying on the Boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, but plan to do a little touring on this long weekend.

Recuperate:

Mother’s Day — I’m declaring this as my personal free day.

Mother’s Day would be a good time to invigorate the mantel.

I only plan to do stuff I enjoy.  I’m hoping to also have something special and delicious to eat.

Renovate:

I have spoken with our contractor who is getting ready to add a new surface and railing to our bedroom deck (#73 on the 101 in 1001).

Hoping to finally make some progress on the master deck.

We haven’t used the deck for a couple of years except for building projects due to the lack of railing.

Reposition:

Although Charlie and I are not planning to move to this property we’re going to purchase, we’ll be working on it almost every weekend until it is liveable.

Planning to make some improvements to this 1930s Cape Cod-style cottage including a new roof.

Our son and his wife are excited to live in a rural area that’s only 3 miles from the Nanticoke River.   They will do a little farming and .  .  . who knows what else.  Oystering and crabbing come to mind.

Rabies:

It’s time to have Dash’s rabies innoculation updated.

Dash is a very good dog except when he’s not.

Last year he could only get a year-long shot.  This year he can have a 3-year shot.  We generally get the shot at the county dog shelter.

Renaissance:

We’ll be attending a baptism for an adult friend.

We are so delighted to be asked to be present at this important event.

Renewal:

By the time Memorial Day rolls around I think I’ll need a break although I’m guessing we will have some fun at the new property.

Charlie helped fold the American flag at Fort McHenry.

We are so glad to be able to celebrate a patriotic holiday in one of the original states — Maryland.  Sometimes I can’t believe how beautiful it is here, especially in spring.

Read:

Finally I need to finish my first reading of The Screwtape Letters so I’ll be ready for our book club in June and July.  We have a good group of committed readers to study this satire about the devil.

The Screwtape Letters’ study is coming in June.

That sounds like a crazy full month of must-dos to me.

What do you like to put on the grill on Memorial Day?

April D-tails Done

When April began I had plans which included celebrating birthdays, going to the opera, and celebrating Easter — dates which could not be changed. We succeeded in accomplishing most of the things we set out to do and at least put a dent in the others.

Dedication

My son celebrated his birthday in April.

Our son has helped us with a few projects and is now getting ready to start a major project of his own in conjunction with the team at The Glade.

Not only was he born in April but his actual birth-day was on a Palm Sunday so I always think of Palm Sunday as a day to also remember his special day.

Distraction

I helped to plan a retirement party for the matron of honor at my wedding.  Her boss left the details to me.

The central hall of the house where I work was transformed into a dining area.

The party was well-attended and everyone enjoyed their party favors of tiny Turkish coffee cups.

Diversion

Porgy and Bess at the Baltimore Symphony was fantastic.

Porgy and Bess was a wonderful evening of music and drama.

Naturally the music is great and the story is poignant, but we were also treated to magnificent singers and actors.

Doing

I had high hopes at the beginning of April to finally get back to working on the laundry room.

On the left laundry with new door open, on the right door closed.

Three items that needed doing in the laundry room were:

  • doors for the closet–still  undone,

    The closet on the right needs doors.
  • door for the entrance–installed,

    The door still needs trim.
  • baseboard and chair rail trim–still undone.

    Profile of the laundry chair rail which needs to continue around the room.
Devotion

We had a full and blessed Easter week.

Charlie started to play the organ for Sunday Mass at a small convent.

We have been enjoying attending services of different denominations where Charlie has been asked to play their services.  It’s interesting to experience the similarities and differences of various places of worship.

Dance

Charlie and I have finished five weeks of Argentine tango lessons. We have learned to walk tango-style — I walk backwards — in both parallel and cross pattern.

Our dance floor before our first lesson.

I can perform ochos and a thing called the “code”. One last class and we’ll try to decide if we should continue.  Tango has been a weekly challenge in concentration and performance which I can highly recommend.

All in all April was a busy and productive month.  We made some decisions for new projects which will be revealed in May.

Would you like to learn to do something new?

Living Party Favors

We planned a Chapel Dedication last fall but postponed it until the first week in May.

Shade-loving perennial plants have been planted on the hill near the cross.

With the event less than 3 weeks away I wanted to get the  favors organized.

A local nursery had a large selection of bedding plants.

I decided to get enough flowering plants for everyone who attends to place one in memory or honor of loved ones in our chapel area.

I bought enough plant markers to use in our own garden.

I ordered plant markers from Amazon so the honoree could be memorialized in writing.

Flowers in shades of pink and magenta with accents of chartreuse.

I purchased double the number of plants to have enough for each person to take one home with a tag that says: May your love in Christ grow and flourish.

Some of the flowers (dark pink) are nicotiana which I hope will be attractive to our hummingbirds.

The pink flowers should complement other ones already in the yard like the Japanese blue iris.

A lilac bush is beginning to bloom near the back of the greenhouse.

With our unpredictable weather I am storing the plants in Charlie’s greenhouse.

The entire yard is lightened with dogwood blossoms.

The rest of the yard is cooperating by breaking into bloom.

What’s blossoming in your yard?

Dessert for a Party of 70

We were setting up the house where I work for a party.

Our own staff set up the drinkware in the pantry.
The large dining table was used for service.

We used the dining room table to serve the catered buffet.

Roll cakes and tiramisu.

Our own staff made the desserts.

Yellow roll cakes were filled with vanilla pastry creme and strawberries.

One cook made 4 roll cakes.

The base of tiramisu is mascarpone cheese.

The other one made four pans of tiramisu.

Lady fingers soaked in coffee with mascarpone cheese and whipped cream.

I was very happy to learn she had made an extra one just for me.

Centerpiece

The cooks also arranged flowers for all the round tables that were scattered around the house .

The central hall had eating tables, hors d’oeuvres tables, and party favor tables.

The food was delicious.

Heirloom vegetables and blue cheese dip.

The evening was a big success.

Do you like to throw parties?

101 in 1001 #4 — Less Than a Year Remains

Here is my 4th list beginning May 10, 2017 (first list ended 11/13/2011, second list 8/11/2014, third list 5/9/2017) until February 5, 2020. The first quarter of 2019 is past so I’m trying to focus my energy on items on the list.  Completed items are in blue, black is the color for original post. Pink is the color for concrete plans. 

  1. Get a dog. Complete! 3/31/2018 

    My Dashie always looks so intense.
  2. Have ancestry confirmed through DNAComplete! 5/19/2018 

    My great grandmother at about the age of 18 circa 1902.
  3. Write a personal mission statement. Complete! 6/28/2018  
  4. Stain the interior wood doorsConservatory, master bedroom, kitchen finished; mudroom doors remain. Spring, 2019

    4 sets finished – 1 set to go.
  5. Hang a door at the entrance to the laundry.

    This solid wood door with 4 lights might fit the opening in the laundry room perfectly.
  6. Take a trip to the UKComplete! 9/21/2018 

    Tower Bridge over the Thames River.
  7. Get rid of 50 books. Complete! 11/30/2018 

    Why is it so difficult to let go of books?
  8. Evaluate and upgrade home electronics: CD player, speaker, turntable, tape deck, DVD player, TV.
  9. Make the guest room ready for guests.

    Much progress has been made in the Treetops room.
  10. Revisit my will, trust, and POA.  Planned for June, 2019
  11. Visit National Wildlife Visitor Center. Complete! 3/16/2019

    Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge.
  12. Visit Cryptologic MuseumComplete! 3/22/2019 

    Enigma machines from WWII have come out of hiding since time has passed.
  13. Make a stone patio with firepitComplete! 11/15/2018 

    The new fire pit is in ready for use.
  14. Host a swap meet. Planned for early November, 2019

    In the fall we’ll have a Christmas decoration swap meet.
  15. Get rid of 101 items. I am sixty-eight items lighter.
  16. Hang photos in upstairs hall
  17. Take dance lessons  Complete! 3/27/2019 

    Tango
  18. Host a Casablanca party/movie night.  Planned for August, 2019.

    The Glade will become Rick’s Cafe American in Morocco.
  19. Host a dinner party for 8
  20. Organize trip to a Caribbean island – Cuba. Complete! 8/1/2017   

    Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro in Havana Bay
  21. Work on family recipe book
  22. Visit a waterfall Cunningham Falls, Thurmont MD Complete! 8/1/2017 

    Cunningham Falls in Maryland
  23. See the Southern Cross in person  Complete! 2/7/2019 

    San Juan skies were cloudy bu we spotted the Southern Cross for the first time.
  24. Go to the beach for a long weekend    Planned for Mother’s Day weekend 

    I’m always happy near the ocean.
  25. Host a scavenger hunt. Planned for Summer, 2019.
  26. Make a month’s worth of meals one weekend. Planned for May, 2019.
  27. Make a home maintenance calendar.
  28. Set blogging goals.
  29. Work on wardrobe: buy what I need, get rid of what I don’t, make a list of everything. Complete! 12/25/2018
  30. Sort out things in attic by attaching children’s names, give away, sell, etc.

    The attic is overdue for a major tidying.
  31. Learn to copyright (watermark) photos
  32. Complete legacy file
  33. Make a photo album of Mommie
  34. Paint some canvases
  35. Chapel in the yard at The Glade Complete! 12/30/2018 

    The Chapel area has 2 new benches.
  36. Ride on a Vespa  Planned for May, 2020

    This looks like a reasonably tame goal.
  37. Locate and catalog local thrift stores
  38. Develop a cleaning schedule
  39. Write a novel based on work
  40. Increase net worth by 25% Complete! 9/27/2018
  41. Visit Statue of LibertyComplete! 10/27/2017 

    How beautiful is Lady Liberty!
  42. Paint landscapes/seascapes on canvas/wood
  43. Take a cruise. Planned for May, 2020.
  44. Memorize a poem.
  45. Make a household inventory with photos
  46. Finish laundry room
  47. Give heirlooms to children – hope chest, china, desk/chair, Christmas china, sleds – 1 for each

    3 sleds
  48. Finish painting trim in pink bedroom
  49. Make a master menu for 14 days of meals
  50. Wash all the windows in the house

    We have a lot of windows.
  51. Paint dining room table – finish sanding, prime and paint

    We’ve changed the rug in the dining room but the table still needs to be refinished.
  52. Use my God box.
  53. Build bench for mudroom.

    I’m planning to build this bench.
  54. Build shelves in master bedroom.

    We must finish the bedroom shelves.
  55. Landscape the front yard  Complete! 6/11/2018 

    Now we’re just waiting for everything to grow.
  56. Read 2 biographies
  57. Read 2 classics
  58. Design Etsy boutique packaging
  59. Fund my Revocable Trust
  60. Achieve my personal weight goal. Complete! 11/30/2018
  61. Get rid of 5 big items from the house:  Complete! 10/30/2017
    This dinosaur is history.

    Lawn mower 

    Sold!

    Lawn mower

    Sold!!

    High chair

    Sold!

    Yard cart

    Sold!
  62. Design and print business cards.
  63. Celebrate our 10th anniversary. 9/12/2019
  64. Organize papers, bills, and contracts from renovation.
  65. Trip to Venice/Serbia/Greece. Planned for September, 2019
  66. Attend 5 concerts — Rheinberger’s Organ Concerto No. 1, SaintSaëns Organ Symphony, Glenmar Dance Music, 50th Anniversary Organ Concert, BSO Gala 2017 Complete! 9/9/2017 
  67. Visit Smith Island, Maryland Complete! 7/31/2018  

    Most workers on Smith Island are watermen — catchers of crabs and oysters.
  68. Start a new blog: “Let’s Fake the Music”
  69. Lead a Bible study at home Planned for June and July, 2019.
  70. Plan my funeral Working on it now.
  71. Hang exterior shutters Complete! 9/23/2017 

    The before and after of the shutter installation.
  72. Build a structure for trash cans and recycle bins

    A simple structure for holding refuse containers found on a porch in Chelsea, London.
  73. Upgrade deck off master bedroom with new surface and railings

    The master deck.
  74. Make curtains for master bedroom Complete! 3/24/2019
  75. Install all trim
  76. Paint all trim
  77. Finish painting exterior details (oil tank, vents, etc.)

    I want to paint the air vents on the exterior of the house the same color as the shingles.
  78. Clean out car Complete! 7/7/2018
  79. Clean up all paint cans
  80. Clear out the basement
  81. Remove 10 boxes from the attic
  82. Set up a better home office

    Perhaps we can set up the office area in the pink bedroom better.
  83. Refinish sleigh bed Complete! 9/23/2017 

    A recent project was refinishing the bedframe of the sleigh bed.
  84. Build frame for full length mirror

    This mirror needs a frame.
  85. Renovate pink bathroom  Complete! 6/27/2018  

    The guest bathroom is ready for guests.
  86. Renovate powder room Complete! 9/11/2018  

    Ready for use.
  87. Paint all interior doors grey Complete! 9/11/2018  

    All doors finished.
  88. Have 5 parties. Complete! 3/17/2018
  89. Coffee table for conservatory
  90. Paint secretary

    I think painting will improve this secretary.
  91. Finish living bedroom curtains   Complete! 3/24/2019
  92. Dye hall rug  Summer, 2019

    This rug is a little bland.
  93. Fix hall water wall Complete! 3/28/2018
  94. Paint green vanity

    The dressing table in the master bathroom might not want to be green anymore.
  95. Refinish tall dresser

    My chest of drawers which belonged to my grandmother needs a surface treatment.
  96. Finish cushions in dining room

    The center cushion of the window seat in the dining room needs a cover to match the two side cushions.
  97. Clear out mudroom closet

    The closet has become a storage spot for lots of stuff that doesn’t belong.
  98. Whiten my teeth Complete! 6/28/2018
  99. Plant sunflowers Complete! 7/14/2017 

    A wall of sunflowers attracts bees and gold finches.
  100. Fast for 24 hours Complete! 6/29/2018
  101. Private

What are you under the gun to finish? Or start?

April D-tails

April first is Monday so I wanted to start making plans lest  the month get away from me.  I try to set goals every month which allows me to make progress on the myriad projects and repairs we face.

Dedication
Portrait of my son as a yong child — he’s a man now.

I dedicate April to my loving son who celebrates his birthday early in the month.

Distraction

I’m helping to plan a retirement party for the matron of honor at my wedding.  Charlie and I will be providing the musical entertainment. We along with Sug will be visiting her in Serbia this coming fall.

The front of the tag for tiny Turkish coffee cups.

Her employer is providing party favors of tiny, colorful Turkish (Serbian) coffee cups and saucers. I am making tags for each one tied on with a ribbon extolling her extravagant hospitality and grace.

Diversion

We have tickets to see (hear?) Porgy and Bess at the Baltimore symphony.  We have done this same thing years ago at which time Charlie was alarmed to find out it is an actual opera. Since the music was written by George Gershwin he was expecting something in a more jazz style.

A great American opera.

When the soprano let out with Summertime in a coloratura range I thought he was going to head out to the lobby. Fortunately, our children were with us and they loved it.

Doing

I have high hopes for my April “To-do List”.  I want to focus on the laundry room which was NOT part of our 2013-2014 renovation but on which I have been working for the past decade.

I’d like to make the laundry room a priority that is completed by the end of 2019.

Three items that immediately pop into my mind when considering the laundry room are:

  • doors for the closet,

    The closet on the right needs doors.
  • door for the entrance,

    This solid wood door with 4 lights should fit in the laundry room doorway.
  • baseboard and chair rail trim.

    Profile of the laundry chair rail which needs to continue around the room.
Devotion

Charlie will be playing the piano and organ for a variety of services and has enlisted Sug and me to sing with the choir.

A project from a few years ago.

Easter week:

  • Palm Sunday
  • Maundy Thursday

    This small Irish bowl and pitcher are reminders of the humble service
    of Christ.
  • Good Friday
  • Easter

    One year we made cabbage dyed eggs. Maybe this year we’ll try paprika.
Dance

Charlie and I started six weeks’ worth of tango lessons last Wednesday.

My Capezio dancing shoes have been repaired and are just perfect for tangoing.

He’s doing great and my foot hurts from injuring it while we were in England last September. But I’m a trooper and will “keep calm and tango on”.

What is your Aprilization plan?

Working on Retirement Party Favors

A friend of mine, actually my matron of honor when I married Charlie, is retiring.

My friend also made my wedding bouquet.

She is a magnificent personal chef whom I have known for 26 years.

Turkish coffee for one as served at a restaurant in London.

As a matter of fact we will be visiting her and her extended family in Serbia next fall. Turkish coffee AKA Serbian coffee is very popular in Serbia.

The dining room will be set with a buffet dinner.

I have been asked to help plan her retirement party and am delighted to do so.  I think there will be about 50 or 60 guests which can easily be accommodated at the mansion were I work.

I designed the simple invitations and had them printed at Zazzle.com

After sending out invitations, hiring a caterer, and securing our own personnel, I am focused on an appropriate party favor to be given to each guest.

Endeavoring to keep the cost under $5 each my suggestions are:

  • A Turkish coffee pot/ibrik:

    These come is a variety of sizes. Small would be perfect for a party favor.
  • A Turkish coffee cup and saucer:

    These are the same cups we were served in the Turkish restaurant in London.
  • A personalized wooden spoon:

    A custom laser-engraved wooden spoon opens up loads of possibilities.
  • A wire whisk stuffed with appropriate small items:

    What’s more appropriate for a chef than a wire whisk? What can we fill it with?
  • A split of Champagne with a custom label:
    With or without the straw these are a cute favor when the bottles have been personalized.

    Any other suggestions?