10 Patriotic Desserts for Memorial Day & July 4th

1. Red, White & Blue Chocolate Covered Strawberries, yummyhealthyeasy.com

I’m re-posting these 10 Patriotic Desserts for Memorial Day & July 4th as I’m in baking mode! Click on dessert names under the photos for links to each recipe.

Ever wonder how Memorial Day originated?

HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY care of History.com

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees and declared Memorial Day a federal holiday. The change went into effect in 1971.

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday.

2. Berry Ricotta Cake-Gluten Free, thoroughlynourishedlife.com


3. Flag Cake, tasteofhome.com


4. Berry Financier, familycircle.com


5. No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits, ymmyhealthyeasy.com


6. Vanilla-Raspberry Sundaes with Spoon-Shaped Cookies, marthastewart.com


7. Patriotic Bark, delish.com


8. Patriotic Pops, tasteofhome.com


9. Berry Spritzer, marthastewart.com


10. Fireworks Cookies and Cream Cookies, insidebrucrewlife.com

Happy Holiday, hon!

Sources: insidebrucrewlife.com, tasteofhome.com, delish.commarthastewart.com, yummyhealthyeasy.com, familycircle.com, thououghlynourishedlife.com, history.com


Graduation Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

All good things!

It’s that time of year again! Call it End-Of-School-Craziness, but this year it meets house training an adorable puppy (pics at a later date) + repairs in an area of the house effected by a leaky roof + two graduations. That doesn’t leave time for much else including blog posts, but then I thought…cookies. Guess what I’m itching to bake? Graduation cookies! So here’s my recipe for basic sugar cookies and royal icing. Have a graduate in your family? Both the sugar cookie and royal icing recipes are easy and they come out looking and tasting so sweet!

These sugar cookies can be baked ahead of time, frozen, then defrosted and decorated or the decorated cookies can be frozen. Tip: Store decorated cookies, with wax paper in between the layers, in a airtight container.

Happy baking, hon!

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I used margarine to make recipe non-dairy)

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 egg

2-3 teaspoons flavoring such as vanilla or almond

2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.
  3. Crack egg into a separate bowl and add flavoring. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until egg is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, then add the dry mixture, little by little, to the butter/sugar mixture. (Tip-a paddle attachment works well. Dough will by sticky.)
  5. If the dough is too sticky, refrigerate until it stiffens.
  6. Roll out on parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thick, using flour for dusting as necessary. Cut and bake for 7 – 8 minutes.

Yield: 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cookies. The recipe doubled will yield approximately 4 -5 dozen.

Notes:  Baking times are approximate so watch the cookies. If they are browning, they’ve been in a little too long.

Royal Icing Recipe


3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

3 Tablespoons of meringue or dried egg white powder

6 Tablespoons warm water

Beat about 4 minutes by hand. Thin icing, if needed with extra tablespoons of warm water.

Add color in small amounts. (Tip–it’s easier to darken a color than lighten it.)

Related posts: DIY Graduation Party (Party Prep Step-by-Step)American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies, Melted Snowman Cookies, Cookie Crazy, DIY Party Favors, Character Driven Gingerbread Cookies

Easy DIY Kids Craft for Mother’s Day

Easy DIY Kids Craft for Mother’s Day

Under the category of Super-Quick-and-Easy-Handmade-Gifts that kids can make for mom, Grandma, or an aunt, and also for Father’s Day, a birthday gift, other holidays, or just for fun are Shrinky Dinks, those half glossy, half textured sheets to color, bake and shrink. My preschool kids made key chains to give to their moms for Mother’s Day, and they came out so cute!

Steps: 1) We traced the children’s hands. 2) The kids colored them in with colored pencils. 3) I cut out the outline of the kids’ hands. 4) I baked them in a 325 degrees F oven for approximately three minutes. 5) I added key chain accessories.

Voila! Adorable Mother’s Day gifts!

Use needle nose pliers or jewelry tools to fasten jump ring and key chain accessories to baked Shrink Dinks.

Book Review: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Book Review, Lessons in Chemistry

Shout out to my friend Ilene who recommended reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. I thoroughly enjoyed the book! I’m always interested in the way authors switch points of view but keep the story moving forward, and Garmus does just that with chapters from many different characters’ perspectives. I find animal points of view particularly fascinating. We think we do, but do we really know what our pets are thinking? This a work of fiction so, of course, the main character Elizabeth Zott’s dog could think whatever Garmus imagined.

Did you know Zott’s dog Six-Thirty, a rescue, mixed breed dog, named after the time of the day he was found on the street, was inspired by the author’s own dog? Want to know more? Check out Dogster.com where Garmus answers questions about the connection between Lessons in Chemistry’s Six-Thirty and her dog Friday.

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo. 

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.


Quotes from Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is the root of change – and change is what we’re chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others’ opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future. When you go home today, ask yourself what YOU will change. And then get started.

Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun.” 

Some things needed to stay in the past because the past was the only place they made sense.” 

Take a moment for yourself,” Harriet said, “Every day.”
A Moment.
A moment where YOU are your own priority. Just you. Not your baby, not your work, not your dead Mr. Evans, not your filthy house, not anything. Just you. Elizabeth Zott. Whatever you need, whatever you want, whatever you seek, reconnect with it in that moment.” She gave a sharp tug to her fake pearls. “Then recommit.


Hon, did you read Lessons in Chemistry? What did you think?

Batch Cocktails to Entertain with Ease, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, April/May 2023

Batch Cocktails to Entertain with Ease

My second article published in the April-May issue of Elegant Lifestyles Magazine includes recipes and tips for batching cocktails. What are batched cocktails, you ask? Think pre-party preparation.

Interestingly, I learned that you can’t just multiply ingredients from a single-serve recipe because that doesn’t account for an ingredient that’s in most drinks–water! The water that results from melted ice needs to be accounted for, and the way to do that is to weigh a cocktail before and after dilution. Who knew?

Want to know more about batching cocktails in preparation for entertaining? Want to find out how to measure for the correct amount of water? Click Cocktails & Bars so that you can plan ahead in order to enjoy your guests in the moment!

Sources for the three batched cocktails featured in the magazine article:

Happy hosting, hon!

20th Mansion In May Designer Showhouse and Gardens, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, April/May 2023

The 20th Mansion in May Designer Showhouse and Gardens is about to open and, lucky me, this week media is invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony and preview! In preparation for writing a feature article about this year’s MIM, the premier fundraiser of the Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center I, along with two of New Jersey Hills Media sales reps, toured the “before” estate. Looking forward to seeing the “after” at the 9,000 square foot Three Fields where rooms and grounds will be filled with creativity, innovation, and design!

Moco Museum, Barcelona, Part 2

The Moco Museum in Barcelona displays its philosophy.

Call it Inspiration For All Creatives.

The Moco Museum in Barcelona exhibits a lot of KAWS.

Did you know…

Born in 1974 in New Jersey, USA, Brian Donnelly aka KAWS chose his creative nickname based on the visual interaction between letters.

Moco Museum

KAWS’ background…

KAWS is an American artist known for his toys, figurines and clothing brand solely based on a fictional character.

Donnelly started the concept of KAWS as a teenager, when he created KAWS tags and marked them on buildings and phone booths in New Jersey and Manhattan. 

Starting his career in New York as a graffiti artist, he often posted the KAWS logo on billboards, bus stops and phone booths in his neighbourhood.

He later graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and started working as a freelance artist for Disney, where he created 2D/3D backgrounds for Disney movies.

Lifestyle Asia

Quote from the artist…

I liked the fact that [KAWS] didn’t exist. It wasn’t a thing, just sort of lettering that worked. I liked the sound, like a short, strong mark.


Moco Museum, Barcelona, Part 1

Metamorphosis 2021 by Nick Thomm, 2-panel acrylic pigment ink, resin on canvas.

A year ago, my family traveled to Madrid and Barcelona to visit our daughter who was studying abroad. I’ve been thinking a lot about that trip and how much we enjoyed touring the cities and countryside. I found the Moco Museum in Barcelona interesting, interactive, and inspiring. Quotes seemed to speak directly to me–even for a creative whose mediums are words, clay and yarn rather than paint, resin, and fiberglass.

Accompanying the over 9 feet wide paintings above, the didactic wall panel says, “Metamorphosis is inspired by art lovers and the conversations we have. Oftentimes, when we encounter hypnotic fields of color, we want to jump inside or we feel the artwork pulling us in. Nick Thomm welcomes that natural urge and frames us in euphoric color. His vibrant tones have soul vibrations and make us wonder, what’s our aura color?”

Soul vibrations? Love. Aura color? What’s mine? What’s yours?

Untitled (Horse) 2012 by OsGemeos, Mixed Media, OsGemeos are identical twin brothers Otavio Pandolfo and Gustavo Pandolfo who work together.

We always think that a wall like this is a big canvas where we can share what we believe. Once you put it there, information, you share this information with everybody. You can change ideas. You can change people. You can give some hope. It’s very important. Every single line we do, it’s important.

Diamond Matrix 2020 by Studio Irma, immersive exhibit with mirrored walls, ceiling and floor where diamonds seem to stretch to infinity.

As humans, we undergo great pressure. Yet, socially, failure is not accepted. Diamonds, made of carbon, go through incredible stress, to emerge as shining jewels and one of the strongest materials on earth. So can you. “

“This installation of hundreds of light-up diamonds expresses that we participate in a bigger picture, sharing more similarities than differences. Life is messy and hard, but it makes us stronger. Celebrate your indestructible shine. Who are the diamonds in your life?

Studio Irma

The Moco Museum, an independent museum located in Amsterdam has announced the opening of a new venue in Barcelona. The Netherlands-based Moco Museum said that the new satellite facility would open its doors for the first time by the middle of October 2021. The location of the new Moco Museum will be a 16th-century palace, Palacio Cervelló, situated in the heart of the bustling city of Barcelona, known for its art, architecture and distinctive culture. Founded in 2016 with a mission for attracting broader and younger audiences to art, the Moca Museum has always sought to make fine art more accessible to the public. As such, opening a new branch in another country is very much a part of its mode of operation.

Manuel Charr for Museum Next

Easy DIY Kids Activities for Passover & Matzah Recipe

Dip textured rollers in paint and roll them onto a cloth napkin to create a Matzah Cover.

Passover 2023 starts at sundown on April 5, 2023 and ends at sundown on April 13, 2023. In preparation for Passover, we were busy at preschool discussing the Jewish holiday, singing songs, learning with hand-on activities, making matzah, creating Passover counting books, and partaking in a school-wide (chocolate–yum!) seder.

Two stand-out activities were making “matzah prints” and baking matzah.

Great for younger children–Dip Legos in white paint and press onto paper. Kids can work individually using their own pieces of paper or work together as a group making prints on paper covering a large surface.

Great for preschool and elementary ages–Make homemade matzah with only two ingredients: flour and water. If you’re removing bread from the house, this is something to do before Passover. (recipe below) The recipe was doubled so that there would be enough for the whole class to roll out. Little hands couldn’t press hard to flatten the dough (LOL!) so our matzah was a little thick and took longer to bake. It ended up being about the thickness of pita, but was tastier than expected, especially with cream cheese spread on top!

Ever wonder why the date of Passover changes every year? It’s because the date is set not by the Gregorian calendar, but by the lunar-based Hebrew calendar. It always occurs during the Hebrew month of Nisan.” (History.com) Want to know more about Passover? Check out History.com.

Homemade Matzah Recipe


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Pour flour into mixing bowl and press down in the middle.
  3. Slowly pour water into depression.
  4. Split dough into balls and roll flat.
  5. Poke holes in dough with fork.
  6. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet (Tip: line w/foil or parchment paper) for 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges.

Source: Fantastic Fun and Learning by Michelle Lipp

Red Lentil Soup

Joseph De Leo for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.

Soup Season

I read this Red Lentil Soup recipe by Melissa Clark of The New York Times and knew I wanted to try it. Add to that a mysterious bag of red lentils in my cabinet (What recipe were they intended for? I can’t remember.) Hubby and I agreed–this one’s a keeper! The soup is delicious, healthy, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, parve…should I continue? With the right stock, it’s also gluten-free. After reading comments from others who’d tried it, I made a few alterations and also doubled the recipe. You can add a bit more or less of spices that you prefer. Lately, I’ve been adding a dash of Old Bay–an ode to my Maryland roots–to most of my dishes.

This is a lentil soup that defies expectations of what lentil soup can be. Based on a Turkish lentil soup, mercimek corbasi, it is light, spicy and a bold red color (no murky brown here): a revelatory dish that takes less than an hour to make. The cooking is painless. Sauté onion and garlic in oil, then stir in tomato paste, cumin and chile powder and cook a few minutes more to intensify flavor. Add broth, water, red lentils (which cook faster than their green or black counterparts) and diced carrot, and simmer for 30 minutes. Purée half the mixture and return it to the pot for a soup that strikes the balance between chunky and pleasingly smooth. A hit of lemon juice adds an up note that offsets the deep cumin and chile flavors.

Melissa Clark, The New York Times Cooking Section

Happy cooking, hon!

Red Lentil Soup


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch of chili powder or ground cayenne, plus more to taste
  • pinch of Old Bay
  • 1 quart vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1 14 oz can diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • juice of ½ lemon, more to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partly cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup, then add it back to pot. The soup should be somewhat chunky. (Tip: I used the immersion blender right in the soup pot, blending the soup until it had a thick, somewhat chunky texture.)
  5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings