Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chanukah Party

Hello Viewers!

… and here we go - it is party time again! But this time it is no ordinary festivity – it is a holy celebration: Chanukah, the holiday of miracles, gratitude, hope and lights.

Now, I ask you, who in the world came up with the notion that the “Chanukah colors” are blue and white, with some silver thrown in by the bold for a bit of glamour? Blue and white are the colors of the Israeli flag – and there it ends. There is no such thing (and there never has been such a thing) as Chanukah colors – not even in our over-commercialized universe. And if there were, why would they be blue and white? So un-party-like.

Therefore, I am setting up for the family dinner this year in shocking pink and gold – gold being a much more Chanukah-compatible metallic accent color than silver, since it recalls the gold of the Menorah itself, as well as many of the other Temple accoutrements; the Chanukah “gelt” (money, but literally meaning gold) that is traditionally given out during the holiday; and maybe even the golden sheen of the olive oil that we burn. Shocking pink is an obvious choice that needs no further explanation!

So, let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start)...

The tablecloth is one that I dyed with Rit in the washing machine – rather nifty, I think. On top of that, a slightly tacky gold runner - but used the right way, some tacky things can actually look fantastic. A tall, hot pink Indian candle lantern takes center place.

Next, I added roses in small, hot pink bud vases. You will not be surprised to hear I found them at IKEA.

The roses were enhanced with floral glitter spray - it comes in gold and silver and is safe to use on live flowers. On the whole, I find that glitter - whether sprayed or sprinkled - is a great enhancer of life in general! I often scatter some on the staircase when I am expecting guests.

(Unfortunately, I find it very difficult to get the right color tones in my photos - with flash or without, there are shifts in color that are inaccurate. Some of these photos look rather more reddish than they should; some a little too garish. The first picture is probably the one closest to reality.)

This year, there was an unprecedented convergence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving, and I allowed myself to allude to this fact with some gold-sprayed mini pumpkins – some of you may recognize them from an earlier event, when they were bright white; they had kept fresh all these weeks so this was a great opportunity for recycling.

Finally, I added some votive candles, pink, semi-transparent glass pebbles (from a florist supplies store), and some real pebbles that have been spray painted in gold.

Then for the place settings. Gold chargers were a given, and after a little experimenting I settled for my scalloped, violently floral dinner plates of English design, and rosy appetizer plates with a raspberry pink rim. The napkins were dyed together with the tablecloth, and the napkin rings were a discount store find; they are cheap plastic - another example of tacky things that can look wonderful in the right context.
Table setting for the grandchildren...

...and an overview of the table. Below, the full effect at night, with all the candles lit.

It has been my tradition every Chanukah for at least twenty-five years to fill a decorated basket with clementines, chocolate gold coins, prettily wrapped candies, and small gifts for everyone at the table (in addition to the “real” gifts for the offspring). 

By necessity, these party favors are quite inexpensive, but I try to find a theme each year that can be personalized for all the recipients.

Obviously, it has to be something that works both for men and women, and for most ages. 

Last year it was socks, carefully selected according to personalities - from distinguished argyle to fuzzy with purple pompoms. Once it was various bookmarks – romantic, intellectual, playful, businesslike. This year it was note pads - pretty, jokey, floral, and - yes, covered in pink fluff. 

And finally, a glimpse of Chanukah atmosphere...

Regards from Rosebud!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Water Fest

Today I was busy setting up a party again – not for myself, but as a send-off for a colleague who was celebrating her retirement. Since she is an inveterate and passionate swimmer, using her every spare moment to splash about in the pool at our local “Y”, the theme of the party presented itself: Water. Lots of it. The format was a buffet dinner, and here is what I did.

Since the theme was water, the color, not surprisingly, was aqua. Centerpieces, and recurring decorations, were glass bowls and vases of varying shapes and sizes, filled with aqua-tinted water and floating candles. Some of them also had added sea shells and pearls - the ocean connection, you see! This one also has a floating waterlily, which promptly caught fire and had to be discarded. I also sprinkled acrylic "sea glass" (obviously, I would have preferred real glass, but I couldn't find anything in my color scheme at the purveyors I favor, and I didn't have the time to run around further), some blue jelly fish, and silver chocolate coins for a sweet treat. 

These water lilies did not catch fire, however.

Here you can clearly see the pearls and sea shells...

I set up a long buffet table, with a small folding table stacked on top for added height and drama. I then used milk crates and smaller wooden wine boxes to elevate food platters.

Creating different heights and levels "for drama" is considered pretty much a necessity these days in party planning circles...

Is anyone surprised that IKEA served as florist? 

You may recognize these silk roses from my home (where I also dug up the other props); wrapped in gauzy, shimmery, aqua fabric, and stuck in Rektangel glass vases, they made a beautiful statement - and pink does go so well with aqua!

Below, you can see some more pearls mingling with the sea glass. Aqua-colored mercury glass votive holders are holding plastic cutlery.

The center piece of the buffet table was this delectable crystal prism candle holder, stuffed with aqua LED lights and topped with a silk rose ball. 

And, finally, the pièce de résistance - a water fall to really hammer home the water theme! This little darling was given to me by a friend who moved abroad and couldn't take it with her. It is almost one yard high, made of resin, weighs a ton, and is absolutely gorgeous! 

I put some more colored LED lights inside the four levels of the waterfall for more aqua effect. These lights are submersible in water, you get them from florist supplies stores, and they are the most fun I have had in several days! They come in many different colors - some can even change colors - and you can use them for so many wonderful, important purposes. 

They are not even terribly expensive, especially since the batteries can be replaced as needed - I paid $1.50 each, and thought it well-spent money.

I used more of the gauzy, shimmery fabric, suspending it from the ceiling to create a suitable backdrop for the waterfall, and the table it sits on has been draped with some dollar-store, turquoise curtains. 

Here is a close-up of the arrangement. I was rather pleased with the effect - particularly that gauzy, shimmery fabric behaved very well.

Please try to behave well, you too!
Regards from Rosebud!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More from Your Latter-Day Victorian

Hello again, Viewers!

Strengthened by my smelling salts and a little rest on my chaiselongue, I now feel much better. Let us proceed with our investigations of the Victorian psyche...

Schedules & Timetables
The Victorians were sticklers for punctuality and the inventors of extensive, detailed schedules and timetables. Theirs was the notion of a butler banging the gong when it was time to dress for dinner. (I always wonder how much time the butler would allow for dressing…?) One of the most sacred duties of the master of the house was the daily, ritual winding of the clocks by which the entire household was run.
This Victorian mantel clock is truly a temple to time!
(Image from
Punctuality became a moral and almost religious virtue, which fed well into that other specialty “Designated Tools & Spaces” that we touched on previously – there now also had to be a program of suitably designated time slots for every activity, which must be rigorously adhered to. Indeed, household manuals admonished their readers to produce elaborate and detailed schedules for housekeeping, wherein the desired time frame and frequency of each task was carefully delineated. 

Timekeeping seems sometimes to have been performed almost for its own sake - time was seen as highly valuable, and wasting it was considered every bit as bad as wasting money. Of course, some of this fascination with timekeeping had to do with the explosive development during this era of train travel, which necessitated proper time tables, but it spilled over into many other spheres of life as well. Ms. Flanders shows us a world as rigidly scheduled as a NASA launch. 

Does it come as a surprise to anyone that my childhood fantasy games often revolved around lists and schedules? I remember vividly sitting there as a ten year-old with my notebook and pencil, outlining some new scheme in painstaking detail, with much pondering over the proper timetables for the imaginary participants in my mental scenarios. Many of my daydreams still do – sometimes I have to stop the whole thing, because of all the fanatic schedules that keep cropping up in what ought to be pleasant fantasies.

And if you want to really make me crazy - just don't show up on time! Incidentally, one of the many fine characteristics that distinguished the dear Prince Consort from other, lesser suitors, was his punctuality. This counted heavily in his favor, and remains a reliable source of satisfaction for his Queen...

Like our dear Queen Victoria I am “not amused” by vulgarity, but let us set something straight here: We make fun of how the Victorians used to put little skirts on their piano legs, but don’t most of us use bed skirts? I rest my case.

Bagpipes & Scots in Kilts
(Image from

The Monarch had an inexplicable fondness for bagpipes that I have shared for as long as I can remember. She made them part of her daily routine, with a bagpiper parading about the premises as a reveille every morning, rain or shine. 

The mournful, yet dramatic tones of this pre-medieval instrument have always captivated me in a way that entirely defies logic. 'Tis the Victorian blood in me, Ah tells ye!

Regarding the Scots in their kilts, let us not descend into vulgarity (see above!), only briefly establish that they do present a charming, yet manly, picture. 

Her Majesty with her Highlander
(Image from
(Once upon a time, I have been told, before the kilt was the constructed garment it is today, and part of it covered the upper body as a cloak as well, it used to be that men would spread out their kilts - a good eight or nine yards of wool fabric - directly on the ground, then lay down and roll themselves into it. I find the mental image absolutely irresistible!) 

In this context I cannot warmly enough recommend the touching, truth-based drama “Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown” with the wonderful Dame Judi Dench, wherein the widowed Queen develops a tender friendship with her Highland servant John Brown - who is looking awfully good in his tartan and sporran...

As I have mentioned before, My Home Is My Castle. This devise, which turns the home-dweller into the ruler of his personal kingdom, or - in my case - her queendom, was not invented by the Victorians, but they were the ones who brought it to the forefront of the national psyche. Yes, like myself, the Victorians were obsessed with privacy. The concept of the Designated Spaces that I touched on in a previous post, was very much concerned with correct space allotment, not for the sake of functionality, but for the sake of preserving privacy and guarding the eye from unseemly views. 

Personally, I have always had a horror of the "open layout" or the "loft style" apartment. Breaking down walls, opening up doorways, combining functions in favor of having to eat your dinner in full view of the kitchen sink - all these seem to me utterly absurd and offensive. Give me a door that closes well!

Perhaps it is a universal trait of children to enjoy the privacy of a secret little hide-out - but I have retained this fondness well into the mature years. My current dream is to have a very private and very secret garden shed to hide in, a play house of my own! The shed might look like this one, perhaps:
Why does this not belong to me? Whomever it does belong to is to be warmly congratulated!
(Image from
I could be perfectly happy in this one too...
(Image from
Additionally, we Victorians must obviously also take great care to have our tea every afternoon, and to sit up straight at all times. Do not let anybody trick you into believing that it is easy, in today's world, to have a Victorian mindset. 

But it can be kind of fun... So, if you are in the mood to remain further immersed in this delightful theme, it is my great pleasure to refer you to the charming film “The Young Victoria” with Ms. Emily Blunt.

Regards from your Victorian Rosebud!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pumpkins & Pearls

Hello, Viewers!

Last week there was no new post in the Castle since I was too busy setting up a Fairy Party. So for now, let me abandon chronology, and show you instead what I was doing last Sunday.

My imagination had been set in motion long ago by some items from – IKEA (it is almost becoming embarrassing!) Large, white, lacey candle trays promised to make wonderful charger plates*, and other pieces in the same series – Skurar – seemed equally full of potential, so I knew I wanted to do something elaborate with them. The time of year obviously suggested something pumpkin-related – but how to combine these points of inspiration? Two words: spray paint.
I gave my pumpkins a bright white satin finish, and together with Skurar it was a match made in heaven. In fact, the whole table setting, when finished, had a bit of a bridal look to it. Considering that one of the mature Fairy Ladies was celebrating her 29th anniversary, and that one of the Fairy Girls had just gotten engaged, it was quite appropriate!

I started by covering the table with burlap, and added a hand-crocheted lace tablet. A Skurar bowl holds a rosemary plant, wrapped in burlap and accented with a few mini pumpkins.

One fairly - or fairily! - large pumpkin sitting in another type of Skurar bowl, again with a bit of burlap for contrast. I used two of these to flank the central bowl.

Center piece in progress - I have added more pumpkins, Skurar candle lanterns (with tea lights), and pillar candles. A couple of the pillar candles got pearl cuffs - actually elastic pearl bracelets from a florist's supply store,  made for holding flower corsages.

At the very last moment, I had the idea to elevate the plant - I added a flat-bottomed bowl, wrapped in burlap and covered with a small companion piece to the lace tablet. Also, more pearls have been added. Then, for the place settings:

Above: the Skurar candle tray that originally fueled the whole venture.

After finally deciding that going out and buying a whole set of white china (since I only possess floral china), would be a bit rich even for my party-seasoned blood, I went to the local discount place to take a look. 

Imagine my ecstasy when I found these plates: "Lace Collection" from a disposable goods company called Silver Spoons and More.

Below: the linen-look paper napkins have been rolled up with strips of burlap, then secured with pearl napkin rings.

The place settings came out looking like this! 
Below: The table in all its glory, with pearl garlands hanging from the chandelier.

...And the scene at night, with the candles lit...

One of the large candle lanterns, lined with burlap, became an excellent container for a wine bottle. I also used Skurar plant pots to hold mini baguettes and bread sticks.

The Faeries were offered extra pearls to wear, of course, and the craft of the day was tulle/pearl bracelets.

One of our Faeries loves blue...

Another is crazy about pink...

Finally, this just might be the forum for finally revealing to the world my Heirloom Recipe Collection Secret Brownies, which were served for dessert. One of the best things about these brownies is that it is a one-bowl - or rather one-pan - recipe! No messy chocolate-melting!

The SECRET is to use only first-rate cocoa. Personally, I like to use Droste (Dutch process), but if your taste runs to non-alkalized that is fine too. Just don't compromise on quality!

Secret Brownies
2 sticks margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
  1. Melt margarine/butter in large saucepan; remove from fire
  2. Stir in sugars, cocoa, vanilla
  3. Stir in eggs, one at a time; do not add next egg until previous one is fully incorporated
  4. Stir in flour with baking powder; mix well
  5. Heave into greased 9 x 13" pan; bake at 350° for 30 minutes
  6. If desired, add some walnuts or pecans - here I used honey-glazed pecans as a decoration
Makes 20-24, depending on levels of greediness, but these brownies are guaranteed to bring out the greediness even in the best of us!

Regards from Rosebud!

*It has come to my notice that the cover of the November issue of “RomanticHomes” shows a table setting where these trays are used as charger plates – but I promise on my word of honor that I have not stolen the idea; I used them as such already this past spring!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Latter-Day Victorian

Those of you who came on the tour of my Victorian drawing room will not be too surprised when I tell you that I often feel like a not-so-modern version of Queen Victoria. I don’t mean in a creepy, National Enquirer “My Previous Life as an Empress” sort of way; only that I have found that I share certain values and ways of thinking with this estimable lady, her contemporaries, and her zeitgeist.

(Image from
“Inside the Victorian Home” (written by Ms. Judith Flanders), is the title of a deeply engrossing and eminently readable book that I have perused several times in my quest for historical verification of my lifestyle. Ms. Flanders expounds in great detail on the many issues of the Victorian era, and it seems that the Victorians developed certain peculiar obsessions that – to my delighted surprise – I find that I have shared since childhood. Let us explore some of these fixations.

The Complete Set
One of these peculiarities I even remember learning about as time-specific in my earlier days as an art historian. It was during this era that the production of household goods, such as linens, silver and fine china took off in scope and volume in a way never seen before or after. Never previously had a dinner table been set with such elaborate profusion of vessels and utensils, and never before had such a deeply felt need of uniformity and perfection been experienced. Hence, the 248-piece, or the 562-piece dinner service in one single, compulsive, cohesive pattern was born. Yes, of course there had been dinner services before, but never with the same obsessive need to have a “complete set", with endless bone plates, consommé bowls and salt cellars, where everything had to match, from beginning to grand final. The same principle was soon applied to other areas of domestic life and interior decoration as well, with complete sets of everything from furniture to toiletries. This gave rise to the whole concept that we in the decorating business like to refer to as “matching stuff”.

Even as a small child, I used to be incapable of picking just one acorn, say, and take it home and be satisfied – no, no, it had to be a “complete set” of acorns, whatever that may have been, the “completeness” being some arbitrary number that would present itself in my young brain: maybe six or ten acorns would be satisfyingly complete. Slightly weird, but I can see the pattern now… As an adult, I have retained a fondness for matching sets of stuff, seldom capable of buying just one pretty plate or glass – because it just feels so much better, somehow, to buy a minimum of eight. (When it comes to shoes in particular, I’m terrible – I can never be happy with just one single shoe, however pretty; I always, obsessively, buy two!)

It may therefore come as a shock to us all that I have wholeheartedly embraced the current fad for “mismatched” table settings – because it feeds into the collector’s mindset of basically buying a bit of EVERYTHING and enjoying it all AT ONCE – but there are times when I do a mental double-take, and have to gently talk myself down from the peaks of anxiety that sometimes interfere with this relaxed outlook. 
Incorrect application of the "mismatched" concept - one that would, rightly, give the Monarch the hiccups!
But be warned – it isn’t as relaxed as “they” would have you believe! The whole “mismatched” business is an art in itself: you still can’t have eleven matching wine glasses with just the twelfth one breaking the trend – you have to have a balance in this system as well, with six or four of each kind, or twelve different ones altogether, or some other mathematical formula that will produce a charmingly “spontaneous” look… Am I getting out of control here? Aaargh! Give me a Complete Set!!!
Correct interpretation of the concept - two pairs and four singles - a delight to behold!
Designated Tools & Spaces
The Bowl Quiz
In the Victorian universe each space, each tool, each object has its own, specific use and may not – positively CANNOT – be interchanged, confused, or otherwise mixed up with another purpose. And no, I don’t have an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I really don’t. I’m just charmingly archaic. And it disturbs me on a very deep level when I sometimes see a person – such as a certain Significant Other – eating his cereal from (oh, no!) a mixing bowl, when it ought to be so crystal clear to every discerning mind that mixing bowls and cereal bowls – or even soup bowls, for that matter – differ vastly from each other. How? They just do.

So, here is a quiz for you: Which two of these bowls may be used for correctly eating cereal - whether hot or cold? If you answered anything other than the two bowls on the middle level, you are as sadly mistaken as that SO I just mentioned.

On the top shelf we find a serving bowl (left) and a pasta bowl (right); on the counter top, from left to right: a soup bowl, a mixing bowl, and another serving bowl. See - that wasn't so difficult, was it? (And before you call the Husband-Protective Services I want to inform you that, with my usual tact, I do not interfere with my husband's life choices; I merely shudder, imperceptibly.)

No, if I do have an obsession it would be with containers. Round tins, square tins, oblong tins, drawstring pouches, zippered pouches, stationery boxes, pillboxes, hat boxes and just plain boxes, cases, jars, bags, purses, caddies, folders and envelopes. I buy them, I collect them – and I never have the one size or shape I need! 
A small part of my obsession
A particular favorite - from Blue Q
When I prepare to travel, I can buzz about my packing for surprisingly long stretches of time looking for just the tin, the pouch, or the perfectly sized box that will serve as the ultimate protective case for whatever item it is I want to bring on my journey. Traveling light? Not Queen Victoria – not me. 
And a couple of close-ups...

... and let's not forget the hat boxes on top of the Pink Cabinet...
I do not (yet), as Queen Elizabeth II does, travel with my own white leather toilet seat, but I have given it some thought… But every other tasteful accoutrement that could possibly become useful in some remote emergency scenario, and that is not positively nailed down – I’m packing it! Just ask the dear Prince Albert - he can tell you! “Poor man” you are thinking now, “all that heavy lifting.” Not so. He explained to me at an early stage of our marriage that his – rather impressive – muscles were purely cosmetic. They are no use at all. I do my own heavy lifting.
Queen Victoria with dear Prince Albert and some of the royal offspring in 1846. 
Painting by Franz Xaver Wintherhalter 1805-1873.
(Image from

Oh yes, dear Queen Elizabeth II – so modern, so sporty and casual; practically a hoyden by our standards – I am just now reading “Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe” by Ms. Angela Kelly, about the royal wardrobe (blessedly free of any malfunctions), and funnily enough, fascinated though I am by fashion and style (in which area Ms. Kelly, the royal designer and curator, sadly seems to be somewhat lacking), I find myself even more inexorably drawn to the comments dealing with the arcane details of court procedure, all the while deploring the descent into modernity that has become so rampant even in this elevated place.

In fact, I am so agitated by this that I must go and look for my smelling salts now, and I may have to conclude this discourse when I feel stronger... 

Regards from your Victorian Rosebud!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Woodland Fairies

 Hello, Viewers!

While we are on the topic of fairies, let us take a look at what happened last fall - the unmitigated success of the Convocation of the Woodland Fairies! It all started with a so-called Woodland Fairy costume that I saw, then had to purchase, on the internet. It was purple and green and perfectly adorable, and it provided the inspiration for the color scheme of the event. "Violets & Moss" it said on the invitation, and that captured it all. 
(Image from

Perhaps it should be added that, for modesty, I wore my costume with a long purple petticoat (same shade as the short one here) and a purple long-sleeved shell underneath - but it still looked lovely! I found perfectly matched green pantyhose and slippers, and also added a feather headband and peacock feather earrings. So much fun!

Sadly, the colors of these following photographs are not true to reality - the flash photo shows a tablecloth in a garish, blueish purple, while the flashless ones show a color that is almost burgundy. I must beg my readers to imagine the true color, somewhere in between - a rich, deep shade of plum that was wholly satisfying to all lovers of purple.

Let us take a closer look at some of the details...

The centerpiece consisted of three mossy twig baskets, sitting on a scrunched-up lime green table runner, held in shape with some gold-sprayed pebbles and pine cones.

One basket held three lime green twig spheres, pierced with peacock
plumes and decorated with lilac hydrangea and a sparkly, lilac bird.

The middle one held a small table waterfall, with more
hydrangea and a sparkly green bird.

The third basket held an artificial three-tiered topiary - again with
extra hydrangea, a sparkly bird, and a peacock as a crowning glory.

A lot of extra feathers, candles, curly ribbons and other sundries added to the almost magical ambiance! Gold doilies made sure that the woodland didn't get too rustic.

The "gold" soup spoons were given extended handles of small twigs, attached with golden duct tape. The green plates we have seen before, but this time they were ornamented with pine cones - carefully soaked in hot, hot soap water to remove any dirt or bugs; then dried in the oven, and finally gold-sprayed.

A lantern hanging from the chandelier - lots of atmosphere!

The project of the day was - wings! I decided it was about time all the fairies had their own set, so I bought a few different sets of wings from, let them choose the color they wanted, and provided the usual boxes of fluff - plus some extra glitter paint! As usual, I was touched to see the creative energy unleashed; all the fairies were ready to take off into outer space!

This one is going to be airborne any moment!

The menu was inspired by the woodsy fall theme as well:

Kabocha squash soup - the delighted fairies dubbed it "Woodland Soup" 
Cornish hens with wild rice, orzo, mushrooms, pine nuts, aubergines and such...
Sticky brownies with whipped topping.

Woodland Soup 
(I received the rough outline of this recipe from a friend who must remain nameless, and have made a few adjustments to it.)

1 Kabocha squash
Olive oil
Garlic powder

Place squash in oven-proof dish; drizzle rather generously with olive oil; sprinkle very generously with garlic powder. Bake at 375° for 2 hrs or more, until thoroughly soft - squash will crack, and that is a good thing. I prefer to do this step the day before, to cut down on kitchen time on the day of the party, and to make sure the squash has time to cool properly - it must be cool enough to handle.
NOTE: Strangely enough, it seems that an under-baked (hard) squash cannot be softened later, with extra boiling of the soup - I tried it once when I had accidentally taken the squash out a bit too soon, and made this surprising discovery. Therefore, make sure it is really soft before removing it from the oven!

The next day...
Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 whole head of garlic, trimmed with tips of peel removed
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 parsnip, thinly sliced
handful of mushrooms - or more, if desired - sliced
2-3 2-inch pieces of ginger, peeled 
Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, marjoram, thyme - to taste
Big glug of dry sherry
1 Tbsp honey
1 quart vegetable broth - preferably without MSG, partially hydrogenated fat or other life-threatening ingredients (if you are less squeamish, you could use soup cubes & water instead)
Flesh of baked squash
Small bunch of dill, chopped
1/3 - 1/2 cup ground almonds
  1. Sauté onions & garlic head in olive oil in large soup pot on medium heat
  2. Add celery, carrot, parsnip, mushrooms, ginger
  3. Season; let vegetables soften and "sweat" well, while stirring occasionally 
  4. Add sherry, vegetable broth, honey; let simmer for up to 1 hr, or until vegetables are soft
  5. Meanwhile, remove seeds from squash; scoop out the flesh and mash roughly with a fork
  6. Add squash to soup (including roasted garlic powder from peel); simmer to heat through
  7. Taste & adjust, if needed
  8. Most likely, you will need to add more water - the soup is supposed to be fairly liquid; not a puré. For this reason you need to use some broth (or soup cubes); otherwise the soup will be either too watery in flavor - or else too thick in consistency
  9. When soup is quite ready, add chopped dill
  10. Remove from heat; stir in ground almonds - do not boil after this step
Seems weird, right? But it is DELICIOUS - ENJOY!

Regards from Rosebud!