Cocktail of the month (June): Summer Solstice Dawn


I’m very much a Cosmo kind of girl. I love fruity cocktails with beautiful colors. But sometimes I want to try something a little different. In the course of my Internet travels I stumbled upon a fantastic site: It covers all sorts of cocktails, and one that really struck my eye just so happened to be appropriate for June and the Summer Solstice. Plus, it’s pink and fruity, so what’s not to love?

Here’s what you need for this summery libation:

077Note: the original recipe called for Patron Reposado. I didn’t have that, so I used Silver. I suspect that Reposado would impart a more mellow flavor.

Another thing I learned with this cocktail is that having just the right size of barware is really helpful. Apparently I lack the proper size of highball glass! Fortunately I am not too proud to just experiment with different sized glasses, and if the end result is a little too large, what the heck. The drink is still beautiful and delicious.

078(Should have known just from the 1/2 shot of Grenadine that this highball glass was going to be too small. But I had to try to add all the other ingredients and fail in an epic manner before giving up and finding another glass.)

Also note that the color of mine might be a tiny bit different than the end result because the only grapefruit juice I could find at my local store was Ruby Red. I suspect the cocktail might have turned out a little more orange if I had used regular grapefruit juice.

Despite all of these issues, the drink tasted really nice. Very summery, very fruity, not too sweet. Perfect for a gathering of friends. I suspect the Reposado might have made it even better than the Silver Tequila, but sometimes you just have to use what you’ve got around. (I now have a several year supply of grapefruit juice, in zip-top bags holding 1 cup each, in my freezer. Just in case.)

Here’s the recipe:


Cocktail of the month (June): Summer Solstice Dawn
Recipe type: cocktail
Fruity and summery, this cocktail is great for the warm-weather months.
  • 2 oz. Patron Silver
  • ½ oz. Grenadine
  • 1 oz. Grapefruit Juice
  • 1 oz. Orange Juice
  • Champagne
  1. Add crushed ice to a glass. Then add to that glass the following, in order: grenadine, tequila, grapefruit juice, orange juice, and top with however much champagne you like. You will probably notice the beautiful colors of the dawn sky in your glass! Stir, if you like.

Happy Summer Solstice (a little late)!


101 Things to Do in 1001 Days

101things (1)(Image courtesy of

Darling Elder Daughter found a blog recently that is right up our OCD list-making alleys,over at Design Darling. The idea is that the list is sort of a combination short term bucket list and To Do list. For list makers like me, this is a phenomenal idea. I get all sorts of perverse pleasure merely by crossing accomplishments off a list. And given the sheer quantity of lists I generate, this one might actually keep me on track.

Note that there are other folks out there who are doing the same sort of 100 in 1001 lists, so there’s a lot of inspiration you can find out there for your own. Here’s mine. I’m really looking forward to making some real accomplishments happen. In no particular order…

Start Date: May 27, 2015
End Date: February 21, 2018


  1. Join a book club
  2. Put together lunch cookbook
  3. Blog twice a week for 3 months
  4. Read 35 books
  5. Organize writing samples
  6. Go through all the blogging pins I’ve saved on Pinterest


  1. Try 5 new veggies/fruits from the farmer’s market
  2. Learn to make dumplings (dim sum)
  3. Make Cioppino
  4. Make/can chow chow
  5. Make a new-for-me cocktail once a month for 12 months
  6. Make tamales
  7. Make mozzarella cheese with Elaine


  1. Go to the Schulz Museum
  2. Go to the Steinbeck Museum
  3. Go to the Computer History Museum
  4. Visit art museum in Santa Clara
  5. Visit the Jewish Museum in SF
  6. Visit the DeYoung museum
  7. See 3 concerts
  8. See 5 local bands play live


  1. Host a tapas party
  2. Host a sushi dinner party
  3. Host a dinner for cul-de-sac neighbors
  4. Host a paella party
  5. Organize Virtual Rose Society reunion


  1. Do one really well executed push up
  2. Walk a 10K for charity
  3. Squat and balance on balls of feet and then stand up again
  4. Learn Spanish (conversational)
  5. Learn to swim (better)
  6. Learn to jump a car battery
  7. Learn to use a power drill
  8. Try all the workouts I’ve saved on Pinterest
  9. Take another archery class
  10. Finish a crossword puzzle
  11. Learn to play Charlie Brown song on the piano


  1. Try 4 new restaurants in SF
  2. Go to Passport Day in the Santa Cruz Mountains
  3. Visit Alice’s Restaurant
  4. Explore places from Hwy 17 book (Holy City, etc.)
  5. Tour the SMART Station (Recycling Center)
  6. Go to a wine/painting class
  7. See the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo
  8. Explore a garden I’ve never been to
  9. Romantic dinner at Bella Vista
  10. Try 5 new restaurants with new-to-me ethnicities


  1. Plan Napa weekend
  2. Have a romantic dinner in Paris with LJ
  3. Implement Napa weekend
  4. Plan a road trip on Route 66 with Margo


  1. Consolidate all digital photos onto one computer
  2. Back up all digital photos onto external hard drive
  3. Back up all digital photos onto Flickr
  4. Create yearly photo albums (snapfish?)
  5. iPhone photo course
  6. Learn iPhone editing software
  7. Get all files off rosebridge and onto laptop
  8. Update LinkedIn profile
  9. Get all blog plugins to work properly


  1. Make a table runner for the 4th of July
  2. Make a table runner for Spring
  3. Make a table runner for Valentine’s Day
  4. Learn to use serger
  5. Make backyard travel signage
  6. Finish ancient embroidery project


  1. See the Penguins play in person
  2. See the Orioles play in person again
  3. See a soccer game in person


  1. Sand down/refurbish deck
  2. Get serial numbers off 2 fans and contact Casablanca
  3. Clean out closets
  4. Look into Vonage versus Magicjack
  5. Get rid of swing set and old stairs
  6. Investigate laundry to landscape (greywater)
  7. Investigate rainwater irrigation for rose garden
  8. Redo corner of the yard
  9. Create outdoor movie space
  10. Get a dust buster for the living room


  1. Watch Breaking Bad
  2. Watch Game of Thrones
  3. Watch House of Cards
  4. Watch Orange is the New Black
  5. See all Academy Award nominees before the 2016 awards
  6. Watch a TED talk
  7. Watch 5 documentary films
  8. Find and watch 5 televised concerts


  1. Perform 10 random acts of spoilage
  2. Donate blood
  3. Find large print word searches for Mom


  1. Replace the zipper pulls on all the luggage
  2. Trying using a diffuser at night
  3. Fix pearl earrings
  4. Find the most ridiculously named nail polish and try it
  5. Bake cookies with friends’ kids
  6. Get a new bathing suit
  7. Send in 23 me test
  8. Find a new board game to play
  9. Do some genealogical research (talk to cousins Alan and David)
  10. Create a flower arrangement a month for 6 months


101.Attend Friday night services twice a month for 3 months

I’ll keep you posted. How about you – what’s on YOUR list?

August Goals Recap, and September Goals

It’s been an up and down month, which has a direct affect on productivity. But I did manage to make SOME progress around here. I can’t tell you how good it feels to cross some items off my To Do list, this clearly isn’t what normal people do. I’ll take it anyway. One thing that definitely helped with my productivity is setting up a desk area in my younger daughter’s room. I found that trying to do anything useful at my kitchen desk is futile; I am far too distracted with anything and everything around me. So while the Call of Pinterest and Facebook is still audible here in the bedroom, I can resist it a bit more than I could out in the open. And setting up a little area all my own brings me inordinate joy.


Here’s how I fared on the August Goals:

  • Read 2 books.  Surprisingly, I had no trouble with this. Most of my reading tends to occur right before I go to sleep, but it’s been productive.
  • Fix all irrigation problems.  Working on it. Managed to get the emitter issues solved, but then discovered some random patches of wet soil where there shouldn’t have been any.
  • Add mulch to the back rose bed. Deferred until either later on this fall, or more likely after I prune the roses in January. The roses there are doing remarkably well given how little care I have given them this year. My current favorite rose in that bed: Veteran’s Honor. It holds blooms for at least 3 weeks before they show any signs of deterioration. I’m not kidding.
  • Get the carpets cleaned. Scheduled for the 15th. I need to remember to not throw a fit when I see anyone drop food or spill something right after the cleaning occurs.
  • Get skylight film installed. Done, and HIGHLY successful! I should have done this years ago. The difference in temperature and glare in the dining room is unbelievable. I have no doubt whatsoever that my energy bills will reflect this change for the better. LOVE this.
  • Organize and shrink all my digital photos. Working on it. Still consolidating from three different computers.
  • Get on the exercise bike 3 times/week. Epic fail. So what else is new…
  • Update this blog 3 times. Close but no cigar. Hopefully in September.
  • Move photo albums. Done! I even look at them now! Here’s an artifact from a bygone era, just for fun…


Mere words cannot adequately describe how stylish we were in the ’70s.

I am coming to realize that my Monthly Goals List seems to take at least 2 months (if not longer). Then again, my daily To Do lists tend to last about a week. Not a great pattern, but at least I’m aware of it…

So here’s a stab at a realistic list of September Goals:

  • Read 2 books. Should be easy. Currently in the queue are: Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan; Abigail and John, Portrait of a Marriage by Edith B. Gelles; and My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel.
  • Finish fixing the irrigation. This really needs to happen a) to save water and b) before the rains come so that I can tell where the holes in the system are.
  • Finish organizing digital photos, and upload to Flickr as another backup (besides the external hard drive). Apparently Flickr lets you have 1 terrabyte of space for free. Such a deal!
  • Exercise bike 3 times/week. Really.
  • Update this blog 3 times, excluding this one. Having a regular schedule would be nice. Maybe I can figure out something analogous to my quilter friends’ “Work in Progress Wednesday” or “Sunday Stash.” Anybody have any suggestions? Even silly ones are welcome!
  • Get Google Analytics and watermarks on photos (and the plug-ins for each) to work for my blog. Sometimes technology is highly irritating.
  • Defrost the freezer. Yes, I stupidly bought a freezer 13 years ago that was NOT frost-free. I was suckered by the salesman who convinced me that with extra moisture the quality of my food would be better. He lied. So I’m stuck doing this at least once a year.
  • Make batches of strawberry and raspberry jam.
  • Get Through the Mending Basket. I have a basket of jeans, undergarments, etc. that need to be patched or put back together. Not nearly as fun as a new sewing project (baby blanket  and Downton Abbey pillows coming in October, among other things!), but it has to be done. Now to unearth the sewing machine….

Any bets on how much of this I get done?

Bowling Ball Garden Art

I’ve become a Pinterest junkie. There are so many great ideas that I can (and have) implemented around the house. I’ve found plants I want to grow, recipes I want to try, lots of words of wisdom to take to heart. But I’m always looking for cheap and easy ways to decorate my house and yard. My latest addition to the family: the sparkly bowling ball!

Pinterest had dozens of ideas of things to do with bowling balls. Most of those ideas involved a fair bit of work. Some even involved a fair bit of expense. Neither work nor expense are part of what I like to do! Here’s what I did:


First, I got a bowling ball. It was free on Craigslist. I couldn’t have actually bowled with this thing, it was too heavy for me. But I could lift it well enough to work with it!


Then I went to the Dollar Store. They had flat back marbles in assorted colors. My bowling ball was red, but I really liked the ocean colors in one of the marble sets. (I got 5 bags.)

I found some silicon adhesive at home; I ended up needing to get another tube. Cost: about $4.

I already had a stand from a gazing ball that broke.



All I did was put a blob of glue on the flat part of each marble, and then stuck the marble on the bowling ball. Then I repeated this process about a zillion times (to cover most of the ball, I just omitted the area right by the prongs of the stand that would directly touch the bowling ball.


Garden art is also a great way to reduce water in your garden; you don’t have to have quite so many plants (which require water) when you can add artwork to the yard!


Cheap, sparkly, and easy. What’s not to love?



Rose Gardening During Drought



garden1Roses aren’t just mere pretty flowers to me. Growing roses has been a wonderful hobby of mine since I used to help my father in his Maryland garden when I was a kid. When I moved to California and we bought our house, I inherited 12 rose bushes. My rose garden has changed a lot over the years; it’s moved around to various places in the yard, it’s contained as many as 100 rose bushes of varying types, and it has seen ebbs and flows in terms of how much care it has received from me. Growing roses has been a great hobby for me and it has allowed me to become friends with a lot of folks that I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. But now growing them is a significant challenge due to the severe drought here in California.

I used to be a fairly serious rose exhibitor. I haven’t been as involved for the past few years, and the drought has convinced me that I really don’t NEED to exhibit. (My competitive juices have waned anyway.) I enjoy helping other people exhibit far more than I feel the need to do so myself. In order to be a successful exhibitor, you need to START with very well hydrated roses. You simply won’t get quality, sizeable blooms otherwise. But just because I don’t feel like exhibiting doesn’t mean I don’t still want a nice rose garden.




Roses are by nature water hogs. Ideally, they like to get about 1″ (or roughly 5-6 gallons) of water per large bush per week. They’re not exactly drought tolerant. But I’m not willing to give up my beloved hobby because of the drought. There are things that I can do to mitigate the effects of reduced water.

I had a plan, way back in January, of how I would deal with possible water rationing in my yard. I implemented a few of these ideas, and others have just not happened (despite my best intentions). But here’s the original plan:

  • Change the goal of having exhibition-quality blooms to keeping the bushes alive.
  • Cut back on fertilizer, to reduce the quantity of blooms and new growth. (The reality this year: I didn’t fertilize AT ALL.)
  • Cut back on water 20% (which is what Governor Brown requested all Californians to do across the board).
  • Mulch heavily. (This year’s reality: the front yard is heavily mulched (thanks to my fantastic neighbor who needed to get rid of the remnants of a huge pine tree – and HE spread the mulch for me! The back yard has some mulch left from when I last added some a few years ago, but really needs a lot more. It’s high on my To Do list, although I may end up waiting for the Labor Day sales at the garden centers.)
  • Don’t cut back the spent blooms so severely. This was a suggestion from American Rose Society President, Jolene Adams, when she spoke about drought at a meeting of the Santa Clara County Rose Society. Cutting each cane back far down the cane just makes the rose want to produce a lot of new growth, which requires a lot of water. (This year, I have not deadheaded on any consistent basis, and many of the roses have formed hips. While I have had reduced quantities of blooms on each bush, the plants are still alive and fairly healthy.
  • Don’t plant anything new. It’s easier to keep an established rose alive with reduced water than trying to introduce a new baby into the mix. New roses need extra TLC, and I’m not giving any of that this year.
  • Use an antitranspirant. Some friends of mine have used antitranspirants (like Cloud Cover) successfully in reducing disease in their garden. They have even been able to exhibit roses, since the concentration of antitranspirant they use is extremely low (*I can’t remember the exact percentage they use, it’s either 1% or 5% I think.*). (This year’s reality: I had planned to use about a 25-30% solution of antitranspirant in water since I wasn’t going to exhibit – you can’t use that high a concentration without having it show on the rose foliage, and your entry could be disqualified for having a “foreign substance” on it. I got as far as purchasing the antitranspirant. Maybe next year…)

Careful irrigation is another key to drought gardening. Even though there isn’t a whole lot of existing mulch left in my back rose garden, the roses are still doing well because I have a very reliable Netafim drip irrigation system there. Netafim is basically like using a soaker hose, so when you don’t have emitters that can clog, the maintenance is minimal. Putting in the Netafim system a bunch of years ago was the smartest thing I ever did, since I used to lose a few roses each summer due to clogged emitters in my old system.

The front rose garden (which only has about 10 roses, half of which are miniatures) has not fared quite as well because it still has the old emitter-based irrigation. As a result, a couple of roses are suffering because of clogged/damaged emitters that I didn’t catch for a while.  I have some surgery to do on that system ASAP. Have I mentioned how much I detest dealing with irrigation issues?

I made a conscious decision to sacrifice blooms this year in order to keep the roses alive. (I also let part of my lawn die so that any available water could go to the roses. If the drought worsens, the rest of the lawn is going. I know where my priorities lie.)

I’m hoping that this winter we will have an El Niño, and our reservoirs will fill up again. But I’m not going to bank on it. I am researching rain barrels and other types of water storage so that perhaps I can mitigate the high water bills that roses induce. And there’s also the usual water conservation tasks to implement, like catching the warm-up water from the shower in a bucket and then using that on the landscaping. Or catching the rinse water from washing vegetables and taking that out to the garden. Lots to think about, lots to try to implement. But letting the roses die is simply not an option.