Having a Fiesta

In four weeks we’re having a fiesta here at The Glade, a South of the Border themed bridal party.

In July the hydrangeas are in bloom. I hope we find some colorful flowers in early May.

The last time I tried to have a South of the Border themed party it was a fiasco.

These paper plates are festive and feminine.

Recently I bought some paper goods for the party for which I did an Amazon search and actually found the exact plates for half the price at a local Party City.

The sombrero piñata will be filled with candy then the guests will whack at it with a bat.

Keeping with the theme I also purchased a sombrero piñata.

I think I have enough bright fabrics to make table coverings for lots of tables.

Then I searched through my fabric bin for festive yard goods that might be used as table cloths for the party.

So the party colors are: yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, and green. Oh, and pink.

Finally I pulled out all the festive yet disposable dinnerware we have left over from other get-togethers.

I bought some bridal favor bags which we’ll color to go with the party colors.

A multi-color party is a good way to use up colorful odds and ends.

I have not been perked nor paid to mention any stores.

What’s your favorite party?

List, 2018: April Plans

Here’s the plan for April:

We’re methodically getting ready to fit out our master closet.

The closet must be well on the way to being finished and all supplies off the first floor. Every weekend we get a little closer so I’m confident we’ll at least have all the lumber moved out of the first floor by El Cinco de Mayo, the day before we’re throwing a bridal shower.

We have our favorite dishes which include tangerine chicken.

Tomorrow is our oldest son’s birthday.  I gave him the choice of my cooking at home, going to a restaurant, or ordering Chinese in.  He chose Chinese at home. My favorite choice also.

This small Irish bowl and pitcher are reminders of the humble service
of Christ.

Easter is the third Sunday of April this year. We attend a lot of services during Holy Week so we have no plans after church other than to have dinner out.

Hoping I’m not needed.

The week after Easter I have been called to jury duty.  It seems to me I get this notice a lot and never seem to meet the criteria for opting out.

The Doo Wop Project

The weekend after Easter Charlie and I have tickets to see The Doo Wop Project. They’re a group of male singers who sing classic tight harmonies.  Sounds like a fun evening.

We’ll be inviting all the ladies of the church with this simple bulletin insert.

Finally we’re getting the house ready for a bridal shower. The ladies of my choir are inviting all the women of the church to celebrate one of our own who is getting married early in June.

The closet doors open onto the master bedroom.

After that list it doesn’t seem like the closet will get finished.

What are you working on this April?

March, 2017: All Tiled Up

I like to look back over a month and see what we accomplished, if anything.

March is our month for daffodils.

It seems we often wallow around getting almost nothing finished and then something happens at the very end of the month that produces progress.

PartyKitchenFood
The island was set up with a salad bar. Most popular items: avocado and chopped eggs.

In March we threw a surprise birthday party for our friend and at the same time celebrated Charlie’s birthday.

Currently the new computer/printer is inconveniently set up in the dining room.

Charlie bought a new printer and moved all his invoice templates to a new-to-him computer so he can bill his clients in a timely manner.

We’re cutting the closet lumber I the front yard and building it in the closet space.

The closet building supplies were delivered to the house. We started the project with a few delays and missteps.

Bye, bye beautiful things.

A big load of clutter was removed from the house and sent to a rummage sale.

Still waiting for the new vintage tiles to be delivered.

I ordered new vintage-colored pink tiles to make repairs in the original bathroom in the house. I only need bullnose tiles to make the repairs so I’m hoping the color and size are correct.

The conservatory bathroom is now fully tiled.
Likewise the master bathroom is tiled.

Coming in just under the wire at the end March was the tiling of backsplashes for the new bathrooms.

More details to come.

While the tiler was at The Glade he also put a backsplash in the mini-kitchen in The Cottage. It’s like jewelry.

We’re still harvesting daffodils at the end of the month — they’re just a little different.

Unlikely though it seemed early in the month we made progress.

Was your March like a lion or a lamb?

Poppy Seed Dressing

I am having a salad bar of sorts for our party on Friday night so I was trying to decide what I should do for salad dressing.

The chef told me to use Colman’s mustard but I couldn’t find it at my local grocery store.

Our chef at work always makes fresh dressing and my favorite is poppy seed.

On Cooking is a textbook for chefs.

He uses a recipe from a culinary text book entitled On Cooking.

Honey, vinegar, and olive oil figure big in this dressing.

The ingredients are:

  • 8 fl oz cider vinegar (I used a mixture of cider vinegar and balsamic.  Red wine vinegar makes a pretty pink dressing.)
  • 6 fl oz honey
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp celery leaves, minced

    Minced celery leaves.
  • 1 green onion, white only, minced
  • 8 fl oz vegetable oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp poppy seeds
Honey (sinks to the bottom) and vinegar.

The directions are simple mix everything except the oil and poppy seeds together.

I pour the oil through the hole in the top of the blender.

Beat in the oil by droplets then a thin stream.  I do the mixing in a blender for a creamier texture.

This recipe yields approximately 20 fluid ounces.  Plenty for a party.

Do you have a favorite salad dressing?

Haven’t Made Beef Stew in a Long Time

Most of what I cook I just know how to make. I rarely use a cook book but that means I sometimes leave out an ingredient or 2.

Even before the new kitchen I would make multiple pots of soup.

For instance we’ll be serving 2 soups at Friday night’s party: Chicken noodle  and beef stew.

I try to made the cubed meat and vegetables approximately the same size and able to fit on a spoon.

I’ve been making beef stew very infrequently for decades. The last time I actually remember making it was in 2012 for my Soup Swap.

The ingredients are:

  • Beef cubes (I’m using a top round roast cut into cubes.)

    This tough cut works well stewed.
  • Oil to brown the meat
  • Celery and onion, diced

    I add celery first because it takes longer to cook than onion.
  • Heaping tablespoon of flour to help thicken the sauce (optional)
  • Cubed potatoes

    Diced potatoes go in last.
  • Carrots cut in a similar size as the potatoes
  • 32 oz Bottle of V-8 juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1.   Brown the meat in vegetable oil.
  2.   Add diced celery and onion and wilt in the pot with the meat.

    Beef, celery, and onions sautéing in olive oil.
  3.   Add flour and cook until it is browned a little. (At this point feel free to add herbs: parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, etc.)
  4.   Add V-8 juice. I used about 48 ounces in a 6-quart pot. Add water (or canned tomatoes) to cover the meat and vegetables.

    This recipe can be proportioned for a smaller or bigger pot.
  5.   Add carrots and cook until meat is tender.

    Carrots are colorful and give some sweetness to the broth.
  6.   Add potatoes.
  7.   Simmer until the vegetables are tender.

I never use bouillon cubes or granules to flavor my soups because it seems to make them too salty and adds odd artificial flavor.  That’s just my opinion.

Do you have a favorite soup or stew?

Timeline for a Friday Night Party

I’m a little nervous about next week’s surprise party because I work Monday through Friday.

I always make a party plan even if I don't stick to it and post it in a conspicuous spot.
I always make a party plan (even if I don’t stick to it) and post it in a conspicuous spot.

I’m making a detailed timeline so I, too, can enjoy the party once it starts.

Shrimp gumbo, Carrots, Punchbowl Cake (L to R) at a previous party. I provided the carrots.
Shrimp gumbo, Carrots, Punchbowl Cake (L to R) at a previous party. I provided the carrots.

I have a menu of sorts which will be filled in with desserts by some of the attendees.

Menu

  • Beef stew
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Homemade croutons
  • Vegetable plate with hummus
  • Chopped salad fixings:  lettuce, eggs, avocado, craisins, slivered almonds, cherry tomatoes, chicken breast, shredded cheese.
  • Beverages: Glade Fizz, Coffee, Tea

The original Glade Fizz (which I invented so I should know) is about one (1) part chilled cran-grape to three (3) parts chilled gingerale . You may add ice if you desire.

I had a special message piped onto the cake.
I had a special message piped onto the cake.

But I also need a birthday cake so I ordered it last night. The think I’m expecting about 20 people — give or take so quarter sheet cake should be sufficient.

Thursday: Order cake.

Friday: Go shopping for soup making supplies and staples.

Saturday:

  • Make chicken broth and freeze.

    Chicken broth making is scheduled for Saturday.
    Chicken broth making is scheduled for Saturday.
  • Make ahead any food possible.
  • Declutter and dust and vacuum downstairs.

Sunday: Finish any cleaning and organizing left from Saturday.

Charlie has started to clean by removing everything from the conservatory. Aiiiieeee!
Charlie has started to clean by removing everything from the conservatory. Aiiiieeee!

Monday:  Iron tablecloths and set out decorations.

I have a good selection of tablecloths from which to choose.
I have a good selection of tablecloths from which to choose.

Tuesday: Make Beef Stew.

Wednesday: Set out all dishes for the party. Including glasses and coffee cups.

We'll set up the coffee station on the peninsula.
We’ll set up the coffee station on the peninsula.

Thursday:  Final shopping for salad fixings and fresh food items, including fresh flowers.

The covered item in the center of the mantel is part of my idea for the party's theme.
The covered item in the center of the mantel is part of my idea for the party’s theme.

Parteeee Day!

Before work: Prep salad fixings and chicken soup vegetables.

After work:

  • Pick up the cake on the way home.
  • Set up salad and soup bar.
  • Light candles.

    I have plenty of candles.
    I have plenty of candles.

Guests arriving at 7.

What have I forgotten?

A Million Different Directions

We are trying to tie up lose ends on our projects both in the house and in the Cottage but new items keep cropping up.

Before sewing the rugs together I cut off the fringe.
Before sewing the rugs together I cut off the fringe.

I started working on the stair runner two weeks ago.  I finished about half of it before the sewing machine started giving me problems.

We'll be staying in a historic hotel.
We’ll be staying in a historic hotel.

Also we’re heading to New York City soon so I’m trying to make plans for the trip.  Thus far I have reduced our hotel bill $155 by going back to the website and calling for a better deal.  Unfortunately $155 won’t pay our parking for the weekend but it will certainly help.

I have always enjoyed a late-night cabaret.
I have always enjoyed a late-night cabaret.

I have made a short list of Broadway, off-Broadway, and cabaret shows as well as must-see restaurants for the first-time visitor. We’ll be staying near the Waldorf.  Any suggestions?

The Cottage windows are charming but drafty.
The Cottage windows are charming but drafty.

Our Cottage tenant has decided to have all the windows replaced with more efficient ones as well as a new front door and storm door.  Those items along with some interior trim should keep the Cottage “under construction” for a few weeks.

The conservatory sink will get a backsplash that matches the shower tile.
The conservatory sink will get a backsplash that matches the shower tile.

And Charlie and I are getting additional tile installation quotes since the first one was much more than we expected.

Soup is on the menu.
Soup is on the menu.

Then, when we get back from New York I’ll have to begin cooking and decorating for the “surprise party”.  I think I have worked out how it will go but I still need to contact a few bunch of friends.

I'm planning a South of the Border theme.
I’m planning a South of the Border theme.

I’m already planning a bridal shower for May which I hope my choir will actually sponsor since one of our own is getting married in June.

I'm starting in the living room.
I’m starting in the living room.

First thing on the agenda: clean the house!!!

Do you plan ahead and then realize you’re all booked up?