The Brellis House


Category Archives: Spring

Celebrating birthday with MULCH!

Posted on May 19th, 2013 by Susanna

Every year I get a load of mulch for my birthday- this year I got 4 cubic yards of mulched delivered. The morning it was delivered was like Christmas morning. I LOVE mulching. 4 cubic yards mulch

I really hadn’t prepped the beds enough so it took me a few days to get through the whole pile- but it was gone in less than a week! Didn’t even kill the grass under the pile!

Here’s some before and after pictures- mulch makes such a big difference!

front yard gardenbackyard weeds fern garden backyard weeds backyard garden man garden

mulch backyard front yard garden fern garden mulch backyard garden beds mulch backyard mulch garden beds

Still SO much to do- I’ve got room for more plants now, I want to get a delivery of wood chips for the path and sitting area.


Catering a Bridal Shower

Posted on June 24th, 2012 by Dan

Lemon Water

Yes, it was my older sister’s bridal shower, but we’re considering it our first catering gig still!

My young sister, Jenny, is the maid of honor and is traditionally tasked with throwing a bridal shower. We were excited to plan the whole thing and I think we did a great job.

The theme: Tea Party.

She worked decorations, teas, invitations, etc, and I happily organized the menu. Keeping true with a traditional tea party, we had 4 different tea sandwiches, each on their own bread, scones and some desserts.

This was a fun and enlightening experience in menu planning. I baked all 4 types of bread, came up with the sandwich types and assembled the day of (with lots of help from Susanna and Jenny’s bf, Justin).


The sandwiches:

Tea Party Sandwiches

  • Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, Basil on Ciabatta
  • Hummus Vegetable on Whole Wheat Bread
  • Cucumber Dill on a Dainty Tea Bread
  • Chicken Salad on Sunflower Flaxseed Bread
Tea Sandwiches

This post would be enormous if I put the recipes for each sandwich, so I’ll make a separate post with the recipes, more pictures and the bread.

To prepare for this all, I made all the breads the day or two days before. Each bread (except the ciabatta) was made in this awesome lidded bread pan, especially designed for making a square tea sandwich.

Table Setting

Cinnamon Raisin Scones

Here’s the full menu:


  • 4 different types of teas
  • lemon water
  • cucumber lime water


  • Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, Basil on Ciabatta (vegan)
  • Hummus Vegetable on Whole Wheat Bread (vegan)
  • Cucumber Dill on a Dainty Tea Bread (vegan)
  • Chicken Salad on Sunflower Flaxseed Bread (vegan bread)


  • Cinnamon Raisin Scones (vegan) with lemon curd (vegan) and clotted cream
  • Raspberry Almond Thumbprint cookies (vegan)
  • French Macarons (vegan)
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries

The chicken salad, chocolate strawberries and the clotted cream for the scones were the only three items in the entire menu that weren’t vegan/vegetarian. For an audience where the only two non-meat eaters were Susanna and Jenny, I think that’s pretty good!

The day before the party, Susanna and I got a new lens! The 50mm f1.8 AF/S G.

We’ve been having a lot of fun practicing with it and getting some great shots. Here’s some of the macarons from the party. Susanna also took all of the photos from the party with this lens.


Chocolate Mint French Macaron

Strawberry Sorbet

Posted on May 28th, 2012 by Dan

Late spring means local, delicious  strawberries in Maryland. For Mother’s Day we brought bread and strawberry sorbet to my sister’s for dinner. The sorbet was bursting with flavor, bright red and crazy fragrant. The texture was just perfect. It reminded me of the strawberry popsicles that we would get at amusement parks. Full of intense flavor, these homemade delights almost seem artificial, though they are as simple and natural as they come.

strawberry sorbet

This recipe is straightforward, from the Ezra Pound Cake blog, and very easy to make. As a reminder, the mixture needs to be cold before putting in the ice cream maker in order to get tiny ice crystals for a smooth result. I made a double batch for our dessert with 6 people.


French Macarons

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by Dan

UPDATE: View my working recipe at French Macarons (Part II).

vegan French macron

Ever since visiting France last summer, I have been in dessert envy for macarons. Those things litter the street side stores in every color imaginable. They’re such a prominent window display, that you’d think the French are born knowing how to make them.

I had a proud day last week. I finally achieved a vegan macaron. It wasn’t perfect, but to me, getting this to work was 90% looking the part, which I am pretty happy about.

This was the first of multiple attempts to make macarons. Previous experiments left me with a sticky, gooey mess all over the pan as the cookies melted out in the oven. This time, though, I gave them a good rest to form a ‘skin’, and to my excitement and shock, my little cookies stayed firm and grew little feet.

vegan French macron

My recipe was an alteration from Bittersweet’s ‘Vegan Desserts‘. Her method for the egg white wasn’t working for me, so I used another egg white substitution, Willpowder’s VersaWhip. And somehow, it all worked out.

I made a chocolate mint and chocolate peanut butter. I obviously didn’t take as much care with the frosting application- they’re a little sloppy. I need to practice piping the cookie batter onto the sheet pans and applying the frosting, but the hard shell and feet are a big enough accomplishment for one week.

I promise I’ll post tips once I get a truly successful batch. I can not wait to give them another try and perfect my VEGAN FRENCH MACARONS.


vegan French macron

I love spring!

Posted on May 6th, 2012 by Susanna

peonylily of the valleyroseoak gallCamassiapeony

Seeds and Weeds

Posted on March 25th, 2012 by Susanna

Spring Daffodils

Suess in pot Herbs

This past weekend we finally got around to tending to the garden. Last weekend I had started a bunch of seeds, ones we had from last year (and perhaps the year before, and also I had a little seed trade at work so I got some interesting things from a coworker).  It’s so warm it may as well be May so I figured we could start seeds outside in our greenhouse. We started lots of seeds from 2006 so I don’t know how successful they will be, but already in a week we’ve had spinach, beets, kale, okra,chard and lettuce babies pop up!

Starting Seeds

Spinach seedling