You’re a Good Egg, Ben

Ben spins his egg.

Ben spins his egg.

Ben was the first to color his egg. He used a new-fangled thingy that spun the egg around in the dye and the result was an olive-colored Easter egg. But Ben said he was sticking by it. The rest decided to skip the spinner and do them the old-fashioned way by dipping the egg in dye and waiting for it to become its Easter-pastel color.

Tonight, across the world, people everywhere are preparing for Easter — some fulfilling age-old traditions and some making new ones. I hope you enjoy the photos I’ve collected from those getting ready to proclaim Alleluia!

Kiera and Riley and chick cupcakes

Kiera and Riley  make chick cupcakes.

The traditional bunny cake.

The traditional bunny cake made by Ben, Kayley, Patrick and BilliJo.

Kayley with Ben and the olive egg.

Kayley with Ben and the olive egg.

Patrick and Kayley

Patrick and Kayley

Blessing of Easter food, Polish custom

Blessing of Easter food, Polish custom

The brown egg was dyed with onion skin.

The brown egg was dyed with onion skin.

Butter lamb

Butter lamb

homemade chocolate covered pretzels using Easter candy.

Homemade chocolate-covered pretzels with Easter candy.


Tim, Bunny and Bridget

Tim, Bunny and Bridget

Encore Performance — Easter Kabobs

Many of you wrote to me and asked about the candy kabobs I made for the kids last year at Easter. So, back by popular demand…here they are. Happy Easter!

I saw these in a local boutique…so clever! The price: $8 per kabob!

I wanted lots of kabobs so I bought my own candy and materials and spent $20 max! So far, I’ve made 20 kabobs and still going. (Retail price for 20 would be $160.

For all You DIYers Out There

Materials: wooden skewers (available in the grocery store), roll of cellophane, ribbon, Easter grass, twisties, ribbon.

Candy: I used Reese’s cups, Peeps, chocolate eggs, fondant eggs, and some gummy shapes. The candy is tricky. I found the candy wrapped in foil with soft centers (such as a mini Reese’s cup or caramel-filled eggs) work really well. Next time, I would like to find a little bigger chocolate egg wrapped in foil.

The photo tells it all – slide candy on skewers, wrap in cellophane, secure Easter grass with a twistie and finish with pretty ribbon!

The designs are endless depending on the candy, the type of Easter grass and the ribbon. Have fun!

Real Men Can Cook

Have you ever known a boy (or a man) who isn’t drawn into the lore of the campfire? It’s about the chopping of the wood, the building of the fire, the smoke, the failure, the success, then, alas…the roaring fire!

Easter Sunday is one week from today and here in northern Virginia we are expecting snow. What better way to welcome a spring snow than to build a blazing backyard fire in the pit. But, it didn’t stop there. First, it was the cast iron popcorn popper and hot, salty popcorn. Then, Danny ran home to mix up some chocolate chip pancake batter and returned with his pie iron.

Then Patrick and Connor found our pie iron and used refrigerated pie crust and filled it with Nutella and peanut butter. The other Patrick from down the street cooked it.

Chocolate chip pancakes

Chocolate chip pancakes

Nutella/peanut butter pie

Nutella/peanut butter pie










Who said 13-year-old boys spend too much time indoors playing video games? Not these boys. They are only limited by their imaginations…and their appetites. Welcome spring snow!

Rome’s Pie Iron – For the real deal check out this website which includes the products and recipes.

Tasty Suggestions

The dough can be made from refrigerated pie crust or pop-open biscuit, crescent rolls or pizza dough. Or, even plain bread. Fillings we like:

  • Cherry or peach pie filling
  • Apples sweetened with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, dotted with butter
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese
  • Grilled cheese

Patty O’Furniture

Here is Northern Virginia we say as soon as St. Patrick’s Day arrives we can put out the patio and deck furniture. For us it’s the start of spring and we don’t wait for March 20th. But today we saw snowflakes…not snow that accumulates, just “conversational snow” — the kind that gets a mention in conversation.

With temps today in the mid-30s, all I could do was heat the oven and make an Irish Soda Bread. Warm and crusty with some creamy Irish butter, it will be perfect with tonight’s corned beef brisket and cabbage. Tomorrow, the bread full of golden raisins will go well with morning coffee.

Everyone today is Irish! Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Soda Bread (Easy!)

  • 1/4 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 well-beaten egg
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 cups golden raisins (my variation, but can use regular raisins or currants)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Rub shortening into flour mixture. Add well-beaten egg, buttermilk, raisins and caraway seeds and combine. Knead in the bowl; add up to 1/2 cup extra flour if needed.

Bake in greased dish with a cross cut in the top of dough. Bake for one hour at 375 degrees.

Kill the Fattened Calf…My Soldier is Home

My husband, Bill, returned home tonight after a year’s deployment with the First Infantry Division – “The Big Red One” — based out of Fort Riley, Kansas. Bill is a JAG with the U.S. Army Reserves and served his second deployment to active duty. I couldn’t have predicted I’d be writing this blog; but as all bloggers, we write when the spirit moves us.

I haven’t talked about his deployment in this blog because frankly I thought it was better if I kept it to myself. But now that’s it’s over, I just want to say thank you to all the families who serve along with our military and who say goodbye and, God willing, hello, again to those we love. “All give some and some give all” so we can live in freedom.

The way for me to make the time go fast was not to let any grass grow under my feet…I had a long to-do list and, by golly, I was going to get it done up until last night hanging that last picture on the wall. I really didn’t need a to-do list because our 12-year-old son turned into a teenager during that year and his schedule alone is enough to keep me on the run. My list included small things like cleaning out the basement, to big things like publishing a new magazine (Celebrate Home Magazine) — and everything in between. But now that Bill’s home, I want to thank those helped us out throughout the year. The danger here is forgetting someone. So, with that said, if I forgot you, I expect you to stand up and be counted.

Thank you to the following for extending your warm hospitality to the Kelley’s during the past year.

(These are in no particular order, just steam-of-consciousness gratitude.)

  • To Linda for bringing me homemade chicken soup with bones when I was so sick, and the pound cake on my birthday.
  • To Linda, Jesus, Kathleen and Andrew who drove the carpool when I was sick or had a work commitment.
  • To Nancy who tells funny real-life stories and told me on Fridays before I left the office to go home and have a Sprodka.
  • To Marion who was willing to take Patrick any time when I got scheduled out at work (and to her and her kids for being taste testers for recipes).
  • To Bob who turned our septic (oh, and by the way, cut up our mightly oak that at midnight fell from our yard into the street and blocked traffic, but he’d rather be known for the septic!)
  • To Don who poured me a glass of wine and to his wife Tracy who took Patrick to Houston and every other time.
  • To Melanie who just knew when to show up and when to offer (even before I did).
  • To Mark who kept the prayers going and always gave me encouragement to just do it (whatever I said I was going to do that day).
  • To Veronica and Michael for driving Patrick to “elbow” lessons.
  • To Hollace who always asked.
  • To Joan who always checked in.
  • To Susan who laughed at my jokes and asked for my autograph.
  • To Tami and Chilo for driving to basketball early Saturday mornings.
  • To Cindy for getting me busy the minute Bill left catering her Garden Muse show.
  • To Margaret, Rick, Susie and Jim for joining us in Marietta.
  • For Margaret and Clark who welcomed the soldier to New Mexico
  • To Susie who texted daily or called and who gave me the pretty primroses.
  • To Elaine who sent Bill delicious food (and for the hospitality she showed to us).
  • To SFC Rice for serving as Bill’s NCOIC and for the “Irish Basket” that we all enjoyed when he got home.
  • To BilliJo for calling to see if we were okay
  • To all my neighbors on the Lane for being neighborly.
  • To Irene and Mike for always being happy to see me at school and ask about Bill.
  • To Herb for fixing the toilet when it leaked through the ceiling.
  • To Peggy who dreams big for me.
  • To Ethel, my hairdresser
  • To Father Beers, our friend
  • To all of Patrick’s friends who hung out at our house and let the good times roll.
  • Finally, to all of you who read this blog, write to me, send me photos and recipes, and let me know what you’re cooking for those you love.

Welcome home, kill the fatted calf. Prepare food for the traveler and rejoice! Tonight’s menu: Beef Bourguignon, salad, focaccio bread, and a blueberry tart. No recipes today but stay tuned for the recipe of the “Queen of Heart, Blueberry Teart” in the spring Celebrate Home Magazine.

“Duty First…Victory!”

Mary Ann Showed Up Again

When you’re a food blogger, friends, family and even strangers send you food photos of their latest creations. It tickles me to know what people are cooking. I’ve learned about more great recipes and stories of hospitality this way.

This past week was no different. The Mary Ann Cake showed up again, even lovelier than before, surrounded with some raspberry bars. Nancy is its creator and each one is better than the next. The raspberry bars? They are a box mix she said was really good. Don’t they look like they’re having fun playing Ring Around the Rosie Around Mary Ann?

For the recipe and the original blog posting of The Office: Mary Ann and the Beating, click here.


Bob’s Bunz

bobs bunsIt’s a balmy 70 degrees this Saturday morning in Islamorada in the Florida Keys and what better way to start the day than with Bob’s Bunz? If you’re nearby, stop in for some real local flavor, not to mention hospitality from Chef Robert Spencer and Gloria Teague

You’ll be glad you did!BobsBuns