Dinner Party Décor

I had planned a dinner party with a  Thai friend as the chef so  I worked on the color theme, table settings, and décor with Thailand as an inspiration. Ultimately my chef was unable to cook due to an injury but the theme remained albeit not in the cooking which I ended up doing myself.

We invited by phone but sent a “pour memoire” card early in the week to remind date and time.

  • Colors: Saffron yellow, bright yellow, white, aqua green, olive green (which went with my caftan)
  • Flowers – yellows and white
  • Table cloth —  white with paisley runner

    The table runner tied the color scheme together.

  • Candles — our dining room is dark without candles
  • Dishes – Esteem by Noritake — aqua and brown

    My grandmother’s Noritake Esteem from the mid-1050s – turquoise, brown, and gold on white.

Saffron colored ranunculus, yellow and white mums and Billy balls (craspedia)..

I bought yellow and white mums and ranunculus at Trader Joe’s and picked some daffodils from the yard.  I scattered flower arrangements all over the house.

The table was set with place plates that I picked up at a local Goodwill store.

I used a white linen tablecloth with an aqua, gold, and green paisley runner accented by pale yellow linen napkins.  The day had been cold and dreary so I lit a lot of honey-colored candles on the table.

The first course plate was placed on top of the place plate.

I pulled together my dishes (including serving dishes) and silver flatware for the various courses. For a little variety I had purchased 8 turquoise plates at Goodwill  for $1 each to use as service plates on the table before we started the meal.  The first course was served on smaller plates put on top of these place holders.

Sparkly glassware looks nice in candlelight.

The glasses were a mixed set of long-stemmed water glasses and short-stemmed beverage glasses in which we served our home-invented Glade Fizz.

All dishes and courses were staged in the kitchen — ready to go.

Dessert was also served in stemmed glasses.

Demitasse and biscotti after dinner.

We had a cheery meal and spent some lovely time with special friends.



Coffee Morning

My birthday is on a Friday this year so I decided to celebrate by throwing myself a party.

Who doesn’t want coffee? Or tea? Or camaraderie?

I asked ladies only to come to my home any time between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. to have some chat and snacks.

Fresh glazed donuts from a local bakery.

  • White tablecloth with paisley runner. Use matching napkins on trays.
  • Dishes — Merrileaf
  • Colors: White, yellow, saffron

    I tried to keep the flower arrangements whimsical.

  • White cloth napkins
  • Flowers – Yellow and white


  • Coffee drinks, tea
  • Glazed donuts
  • Something savory –Avocado toast
  • Crème caramel minis
  •  Biscotti
  •  Mini croissant and jam

I made crème caramels a day before and sent Charlie out for donuts.  While he was out I quickly mashed a couple of ripe avocados with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

Avocado toast was a do-it-yourself station with toppings (and self-serve fruit).

My plan was to make and serve the hot drinks and avocado toast from the kitchen. A small tray of garnishes for the avocado toast includes sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, everything bagel seasoning, and olive oil.

Our menu was simple — crème caramel, mini-croissant, glazed donuts, and avocado toast in the kitchen. And COFFEE!

Everything else was available for self-service in the dining room.

We talked all morning.

This party was so successful that I’m planning another one in 2 weeks.


March 2023 — Objectives

Ah, Spring! Almost, at least.  We’ve been harvesting daffodils from the yard for about 2 weeks — a sure harbinger of spring.

Daffodils from the yard brighten up the house.

I stopped eating sugar at the end of last month which so far has not been much of a challenge.  I’m sure that will change when we start traveling and entertaining.

  1. Celebrate birthdays.

    It only takes a few people to make a party.

    I have a little get-together planned for the birthday boy and girl at The Glade.

  2.  Head to Vieques in Puerto Rico.

    Hoping to see the bioluminescence of Mosquito Bay in Puerto Rico.

  3. Begin working on a small claims court filing. I’m dreading it.
  4. See a movie.
  5.  Read a book.
  6.  Remove a box from the attic.

    The attic is still full of stuff even after careful assessment.

  7.  Work on fall travel plans.

    We have tickets to visit Egypt next fall.

  8.  Get rid of 5 pairs of shoes.

    Let’s start with this pair whose innersole is disintegrating to a turquoise powder.

  9. Pick a word to focus on for the month. My word: HOPE.
  10.  Write a goal list for April, 2023.


February 2023 — Processed

February has always been my favorite month probably because it’s my birthday month along with that of my very clever niece who was born the same day forty years later.  My great-grandmother’s birthday was one day before mine except she was born in 1884.  Enough about my shallow self now on to the items I hoped to accomplish in February. 

Sunrise in Hudson, Florida.

In addition to the numbered list below:

  • I washed a dingy window in the living room.
  • I went to the local planetarium to see “Rocks in Space”. 

    I’m learning a great deal from these monthly planetarium shows.

     I’m loving these planetarium shows so much so that I might branch out to other local planetaria. It won’t be long before our local astronomical league resumes their monthly star parties.
  • Charlie and I hosted a dinner party with 2 other couples. 

    The table was set with place plates that I picked up at a local Goodwill store.

  • I celebrated Dash’s 5th birthday by taking him to Starbucks for a puppuccino — he loved it! 

    This was to be Dash’s birthday portrait.

    Dash had a serious look for his birthday photo until I said one word —


February goal fulfilment:

  1.  Family trip to Florida.

    View of Clearwater Beach from a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico.

  2. Remove one item or box from basement. I did get rid of a small box with old hardware — dried up plumbing washers and the like — and consolidated a few other things.  I put electrical bits and bobs in the electric crate so we can actually find them when we need them.
  3.  Birthday celebration. 

    Our menu was simple — crème caramel, mini-croissant, biscotti, glazed donuts, and avocado toast in the kitchen. And COFFEE!

    We hosted a drop-by morning coffee party.
  4.  See a play.  I saw multiple plays — Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story (at a dinner theatre in Florida)

    Both the buffet meal and show were satisfying.

    and The Complete works of William Shakespeare, Abridged (at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in Baltimore) .

    Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s home theatre is in a classic building in downtown Baltimore.

    Both were a lot of fun even keeping Charlie engaged who is not the theatre lover I am.
  5.  See a movie.  I saw The Whale — a heartbreaking story of a sad life reaching for redemption. Then I watched Plane which was brutal but exciting.  Also saw Marlowe with Liam Neeson, a classic mystery. 
  6.  Read a book. I read another Elizabeth Peters mystery set in Egypt called. I’m gleaning a lot of small details about “how things work” in Egypt.  I also read A Man Called Ove on which the movie A Man Called Otto was based.

    The original Swedish book is available in English.

    I liked the book as much as even more than the movie — definitely worth reading. Then I checked the original Swedish movie out of the library — so good, so sweet, so sad, so intense — I highly recommend it.
  7. Attend orchestra concert. I enjoyed featuring Brahms’ final songs — lovely.  Then Charlie and I were gifted tickets to the Baltimore Symphony performing Mahler’s 1st Symphony: Titan. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it.  The audience went wild for the performance and the conductor, Marin Alsop.
  8. Get 2022 tax information to our accountant. Always challenging I mailed this packet early in the month and emailed the final pieces on the 15th.  I’m just waiting for the inevitable questions from my accountant.
  9. Pick a word to focus on for the month. My word: STABILITY.
  10. Write a goal list for March, 2023.

A Week in the Sunshine State

Early in February Charlie and I headed south to Florida to spend a week on the Gulf of Mexico near Hudson Florida.

The view of the Gulf of Mexico and lagoon from our condo.

We went expressly to spend some time with Charlie’s mother.  We usually stay at her house but this time we decided it would be more fun if we had accommodations right on the Gulf of Mexico so we three could gaze at the sun setting over the watery horizon every day (much like we did in Hawaii last year).  It never gets old.

Our first meal together was at an open-air restaurant on the beach — Sam’s.

Even though we went to relax and visit I planned a few excursions to explore this area of the central western coast of Florida.  The items crossed out below were optional and we just didn’t have time for everything.

The westward view from our condo gave us a glorious seat for the setting sun.

Our schedule follows:

  • Day 1 :
    • Fly to Tampa

      We had a direct flight from Maryland to Florida.

    • Pick up car.
    • Check in at AirBnB Condo,

      The view from our bedroom faces north.

    • Go grocery shopping for breakfast items and snacks. (My plan was to eat out most meals — I have researched all the best spots.)
  • Day 2 
    • Pick up Mom and settle into the condo.
    • Visit Robert J Strickland Memorial Park — a 6-acre park with a swimming area, picnic shelters & a playground, plus   fishing access & a boat ramp.
    • Have a meal at Sam’s Beach Bar —  waterfront dining.

      We had a really nice lunch at Sam’s with enough leftover for another meal.

  • Day 3 
    • Head to Tarpon Springs (17 miles away) in the morning to see this historic Greek town which is home to great restaurants like Dimitri’s on the Water  where we had delicious spanakopita and galakto boureko for dessert.

      I was too intent on my dessert and Greek coffee to pose for a photo.

      The town is full of sponges which are harvested just off the coast.

    • After lunch we continued down the coast to Clearwater Beach where we caught a sunset cruise that took us out into the Gulf.

      Sunset from the cruise boat was beautiful.

  • Day 4 
    • Restful day at the pool/beach by the condo.

      We met a Superhero by the pool — not sure what his superpower is.

    • In the evening we attended Suncoast Dinner Theater’s musical production of The Buddy Holly Story.

      Both the buffet meal and show were satisfying.

  • Day 5 
    • Community Breakfast in the clubhouse.
    • We saw dolphins playing in the lagoon and outside the bedroom.

      We were up close and personal with all sorts of wild birds including the mallard (above), egrets, and herons.

      Our hosts had provided a pair of binoculars which made the watching even more spectacular.

  • Day 6
    •  Attend a local church.
    • Brunch  at 7 Springs Golf and Country Club.

      Our all-you-can eat buffet included made-to-order omelets, waffles, blini and grits — something we northerners seldom get.

  • Day 7 
    •  Take Mom home.
    • Our final sunset.

      After the sun sinks below the horizon stars light up the night sky. (Venus is the light spot above the building on the left.)

  • Day 8
    • Check out of AirBnB by 10 am.

      Looking northward at our last sunrise.

    • Return car to airport.
    • The plan was to eat breakfast on the way to the airport but we had heard so much about Ulele’s grouper sandwich on Concourse C that Charlie and I each had one.

      Grilled grouper with freshly made ketchup was a treat.

    • Fly back to good old Maryland.

This was a really fun and relaxing week with a lot of talk and laughter.



Before we went on our Bermuda cruise last spring I added a ribbon to a plain straw hat.

My sun hat with an orange band worked great on an ocean cruise.

I fashioned the striped orange ribbon into a hatband with a side bow — very low key except for the color.  I decided to take this hat on our upcoming trip to Florida but with a different hat band.

A piece of vintage silk moiré ribbon.

I found a long piece of pale grey-green moiré in the ribbon drawer. The right side has a tiny bit more sheen than the wrong side.

The bow is created by folding rather than by tying an actual bow.

I made a bow on one end by folding the ribbon back on itself and squeezing the middle together. I stapled the middle to hold it temporarily until the rest of the band was measured.

Hat pins temporarily hold the ribbon in place.

I pinned the band to the hat so  the measurement would be exactly right.

A staple was the most convenient way to hold the middle of the bow in place.

After measuring the band around the hat I removed the staple and folded the ribbon end into the bow.  Then I restapled the crease.

The edges are folded and pressed to create a band to wrap around the bow.

A short piece was cut from the remainder of the ribbon then the sides were folded and pressed it with an iron.

The center of the bow is wrapped with a narrow piece of ribbon.

I wrapped the piece around the crimped fold.

After securing the ribbon I trimmed off the excess.

Then I secured it with hidden stitches on the underside.

The bow looks good but the ribbons need a slight adjustment.

I put some tiny stiches in 3 places on the band front and sides to keep it from sliding up the crown of the hat.  They are so tiny that don’t show in a photograph.

Ready for travel.

After seeing a photo of the hat on my head I decided to clip the ribbon tails just a little shorter so the bow could be worn in the front or back.

Front and rear view of my up-ribboned sun hat.

My plan is not to pack this hat, but to wear it.

The End

Sounds like a lot of trouble to keep the sun off my face.


February 2023 — Objectives

We have a busy month planned! This is my birthday month so I enjoy celebrating the entire month.   Since retiring at the end of January I now have more time to pursue both creative and necessary projects.  In addition to the items listed below I still attend semiweekly tai chi and Bible study classes.

A birthday puppuccino will make Dash happy. See his smile?

And let’s not forget Dashie’s birthday in early February — he will be a big five years old.

  1.  Family trip to Florida.

    We’ll have a view of the Gulf of Mexico from our condo.

  2. Remove one item or box from basement.
  3.  Birthday celebration.

    Something simple but fun.

  4.  Go to the theatre:  The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) .

    This should be a hoot.

  5.  See a movie.
  6.  Read a book.
  7. Attend an orchestra concert.

    This concert will have both narration and singing.

  8. Get 2022 tax information to our accountant.
  9. Pick a word to focus on for the month. My word: STABILITY.
  10. Write a goal list for March, 2023.


January 2023 — Processed

I made no resolutions this New Year — I never do.  Instead I challenged myself with some objectives that I hoped to realize during the month of January. I’m planning to repeat this exercise every month.

I’m planning a fun and exciting year — 2023, that’s for me!

In addition to the numbered list below:

  • I retired from my job of over thirty years.

    The view from my office window.

  • Charlie and I attended a Rose Bowl party won by my alma mater. 

    2023 Rose Bowl Champs

  • I enjoyed a planetarium presentation about Venus. 

    The entrance to the Planetarium is stellar.

  • I brought the Aloha Spirit to a late holiday party

    A fresh pineapple for everyone — Aloha!

  • Among others, I watched these movies at home:  LA LA Land, Lawrence of Arabia, And So It Goes and 2 Indiana Jones films — Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Temple of Doom.    
  • I went to a library presentation about preparation for international travel.  I knew much of what was discussed in terms of passports and money but gleaned a tidbit or two from the experienced presenters. An interesting fact is that camouflage clothing is illegal in a number of places including some you’d never suspect.
  • I knitted a scarf from yarn scraps

    A scarf from leftover yarn.

These are my January realizations.

  1. Adjust automatic reinvestments.  I enjoyed reallocating  my investment strategy especially since I retire at the end of the month.  
  2. Get rid of 10 books. (101 in 1001 #14)

    My shelf is a little lighter.

    I actually sent 11 books to sellbackyourbook.com for a total return of $11.91 with free shipping.  I still have some old books that were unsellable due to the fact that they don’t have ISBN designations.
  3. Drink 60 ounces of water everyday for a week (#48). 

    I’m trying to maintain a high hydration level even after the goal has been accomplished.

    I really don’t know why I find this activity so difficult but I did fulfill the requirement with a few bonus days.  
  4. See a movie:  A Man Called Otto.  Tom Hanks transformation from a crotchety old man to a beloved neighbor was heartwarming.  Finally a movie I can recommend.

    “Otto” is based on the Swedish book and film A Man Called Ove.

    Sadly and without warning my favorite movie theatre has closed its doors for good so now I have to find a new place to see first-run films. I also watched Notting Hill at home.  I enjoyed this movie more than most I saw last year in the theatre.  It made me laugh out loud more than once.
  5. Read a book about Egypt by  Elizabeth Peters. The Laughter of Dead Kings was a fun introduction to Egypt and the characters in the Vicky Bliss series. 

    I love a good mystery.

     I might also try Ms. Peters’ Amelia Peabody historical mystery series.
  6.  Pack up Christmas decorations.  All packed up and stored in the attic. 

    All Christmas decorations have been neatly stowed in the attic.

      I made sure to wrap each item so we won’t be searching for individual pieces next year.
  7.  Hang trim in the conservatory closet. (The casing boards have been lying in the living room for well over a year now.)  I started this project and realized the boards I had saved were not enough to finish the project which I have now struck off my list as good enough. 

    This bench repair took precedence over door trim inside a closet.

      Instead I used the same wood to repair the bench in our front garden.
  8.  Remove one box from the shed. Ah, the shed. 

    The shed is a scary mess which I’m committed to improving with or without permission.

    I actually removed two bulky items — the horse grooming kit (not used in decades) and a big box half full of junk. It’s a start.
  9.  Pick a word to focus on for the month. My word: PREPARE.
  10. Write a goal list for February, 2023

Scarf from Scraps

Lately I’ve been working on a few easy knitting projects.

I bought this handmade Icelandic sweater (lopapeysa) when we visited Iceland.

In my knitting history I have made many sweaters but I now opt for smaller, simpler projects like hats and scarves.

The hat (on the left) I knit a few years ago goes well with the lopapeysa.

I’m trying to use up my old bits of yarn some of which are at least 40 years old.  I had almost a whole skein of bright turquoise blue but not quite enough to make a scarf.

These balls of old yarn were in my stash.

I checked my yarn bin for other colors that might augment the turquoise and found other blues, creams, and greys.

The leftover colors were separated by 6 rows of bright turquoise.

Using a seed stitch (knit one, purl one) on an uneven row of 33 I alternated colored stripes until I ran out of bright turquoise. One benefit of seed stitch is that the garment lies flat.

I added fringe also using leftover yarn.

I trimmed the fringe to an even edge.

After finishing the knitting I had enough leftovers to make a generous multicolor fringe.

The entire scarf is about 6 feet long.

I like a long scarf that I can wrap around my neck multiple times.

While it doesn’t exactly match the beautiful Icelandic wool of my lopapeysa, I wear them together to stay warm.

The striped scarf “goes with” my lopapeysa.


Main Dish for a Pot Luck

Christmas was so busy that my Ladies’ Bible study put off our holiday dinner until the first meeting after the new year.

A sock/gift exchange game is always an aspect of the holiday party.

I was assigned a main dish and I suspected that the other main dish would be lasagna.  I also knew others were bringing fruit salad, pasta salad, and salad salad.

If pasta had not already been on the menu I would have made mac and cheese — one of my favorite go-to recipes.

I tried to think of something that would not have pasta, could be eaten at room temperature, and would have individualized servings so everyone would not need to touch a communal serving spoon.

I’ve been honing my skewer skills since COVID has forced us to be more careful.

Using a combination of my skewer experience and our Aloha Spirit Christmas theme, I decided upon Spicy Shrimp and Roasted Pineapple Skewers with red onion and bell pepper.

Recipe (made 20 skewers with leftovers for the chef)

  • 2.5 pounds of steamed shrimp (I use extra large or jumbo shrimp with not more than 30 per pound.)

    We always use frozen, unpeeled raw shrimp for our shrimp dishes.

  • Fresh pineapple chunks

    I cubed a whole fresh pineapple into large chunks.

  • 3 Coarsely diced bell peppers

    I cut large chunks but could use smaller pieces for an hors d’oeuvre size skewer.

  • 1 Coarsely diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

    Soy sauce is hidden behind the rainbow peppercorns.

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

From frozen to cooked — 2 pounds of steamed shrimp take about 15 minutes.

I made the shrimp first using our tried and true recipe.

An extra pair of hands in the kitchen is always helpful.

Then while Charlie pealed the steamed shrimp I marinated pineapple, bell pepper, and red onion that had been cut into a 1-inch dice in the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic and black pepper mixture.

Roasting gives the marinated fruit and veg a bit of extra flavor.

After marinating for about 10 minutes I roasted the vegetables and fruit at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  I’m not trying to cook the items, just give them a roasted flavor.

Layered on a rack in an enamel roasting pan made an easy presentation for transport.

We alternated the fruit, vegetables, and shrimp onto 12-inch skewers.

I tried a little of everything then went back for seconds.

The party was fun and the skewers were a hit as were all the specially prepared dishes that graced the buffet.

A fresh pineapple for everyone — Aloha!

I opted out of the gift exchange game but in the Aloha Spirit I brought a fresh pineapple for everyone attending.