The Driveway

We were very fortunate when we bought this house, it required very little in the way of remodeling. She does have a few scars which show her age (we call that “character”), but all in all, she is an elegant and well preserved old home. The same couldn’t be said about the driveway. For about a year and a half, we rolled over, stepped in, and tripped on our resplendent “original” driveway with all its “character” filled potholes and cracks. It was clear we needed to replace the old driveway. The driveway is the kind with a ribbon down the middle that is characteristic of old homes- either because the old cars would form “ruts” without a driveway, or because the ribbon would catch the oil of the older cars. You decide why it was there, almost every house on our street has one. To preserve the look of the original driveway, we decided to keep the ribbon.cropped Our old neighbor from our last home just happened to do concrete work, so we called up Sergio to help us with the driveway. He and his crew installed our new and improved driveway and left room for the ribbon in the middle. Countless neighbors would walk by and ask, “So, what are you going to do with the ribbon.” Here’s where Alex and I had to get our hands dirty. It’s about a 50 foot strip about 1.5 feet wide that traditionally would hold grass. Unfortunately, we don’t have any irrigation there, and California has a draught situation at the moment, so turf was out of the question. We opted to go with a synthetic grass strip around the exterior (about 6 inches on each side) and river rock down the center. Design in hand, we headed to the home improvement store to purchase the supplies. Oh, the engineering that went into this…. 150 feet of pressure treated redwood, three pallets of gravel and stone, and three rolls of synthetic turf later, we were ready to get to installation. It just happened to be one of the hottest days of the year that we chose to embark on this effort. First was gravel, on neighbor had let us borrow their tamper to even everything out, then the wooden strips with synthetic turf, and then finally the river rock. Half way through the day (1/2 way through gravel, that is), our neighbor Alisha drove by. She was headed from a pool party to her house to pick up some snacks. On her way back, she stopped in front of our house- weIMG_1507 thought to check out our progress. But no! A most wonderful thing happened. She pulled two red Solo cups from her center console, and proudly presented them to us and said “You two look like you could use a drink.” In the red Solo cup was the “house drink,” the specialty of the house at that fabulous home that resembles a Cabo San Lucas oasis.

How to be Neighborly: We all get by with a little help from our friends.

Never have I felt so refreshed. It carried us through to the river rock, and the sense that Alex and I had accomplished something great, with a little help from our friends.

The “House Drink”

Fill a tumbler with ice and add:

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 2 oz Club Soda
  • 3/4 oz cranberry juice
  • 3/4 oz 7 up, Sprite or other lemon/lime soda
  • 1/2 key lime, squeezed





Love. Thy Neighbor.

It was February 2014, Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s day is stereotypically a day when couples head out for an overpriced pre-fix meal and compete with every other couple for the attention of wait staff. But it is tradition, so we carry on… that is, until we were invited to a neighbor’s home for dinner on Valentine’s Day.

This couple started a tradition to host a Valentine’s Day gathering for all their family and friends. Prerequisite: You must be loving, but it is not necessary to be in love. We were honored to receive an invitation… so (without hesitation) we gave up on finding that elusive reservation and headed one block north to their home for Valentine’s day festivities.

The hosts were a charming couple in a charming home. They lived in a butter yellow Tudor home the size of a postage stamp. Small in stature, it has all the amenities you could ever need. They had recently completed the expansion of the front of the house putting in a small office. The room floods with light from surrounding windows, all of them matched to the original 1929 windows, and the built in oak buffet looks like it could have been constructed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The generous sage and white kitchen is complete with a table that appears from the cabinets and a craft beer tap. It is the perfect size for a couple, and it is absolutely bursting with love.

IMG_1584When we arrived, we were greeted with a big hug, and personalized wine glasses affixed with heart studded wine charms with our names on them. In attendance were both singles and couples, all of whom shared a love of wine, cheese, food, old homes, and equality in love. They had set up stations around the living room that paired various wines with various cheeses. White wine and cheese to the right, red wine and cheese to the left. Dessert table in the middle. I don’t know where their furniture went for the night, but much of it was removed to make room for mingling. One piece remained, and it was the long antique pew from an old church. This was the spot where everyone rested for a spell between sips. In the kitchen, the hosts set out two soups, roasted tomato and veggie, with tasting cups to ladle as you saw fit. Next to the soup, they had sliced tender, delicious, bread from our local restaurant Crave to dip into the soups. They had also made an apple crisp topped with bleu cheese and walnuts, which we munched straight out of the oven. Everything was delicious, and truly heartwarming.

How to be Neighborly: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

IMG_1578That night, we sipped, we mixed and mingled, we munched and chatted, and sipped some more with new found friends. That night, I observed how love can be all accepting and all welcoming. I watched how neighbors could truly love each other, and that was far better than any pre-fix menu.

This is my tribute to that night…



Heartwarming Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomatoes:

  • 3 large tomatoes, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 c chicken broth (or veggie broth for the vegetarian)

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Coat the tomatoes, and place on a roasting pan cut side down. Roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

To make the soup, put 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, and add onions, pepper, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Sauté onions until lightly translucent. Add broth, and allow to heat up.

In a blender, combine the broth mixture and tomatoes, and blend until smooth. Makes about 3 cups.

Can make ahead and reheat.  Enjoy with someone you love.

The Other Bidder

IMG_1546 (2)When Alex and I had decided to make an offer on our home, we knew we had to stretch our budget. The home was listed higher than we had originally wanted to spend, but it was the only home we had found that had all the features we wanted. So, we considered our options, decided we could stretch a bit, and sent in our offer just under the list price. Happily, our offer was accepted. During our home inspection, we learned from the seller’s real estate agent that a backup offer had been made on the home. Above our price.  Alex and I knew we couldn’t compete with that, so all negotiations from that point forward landed squarely in the seller’s favor. Fortunately, they were a lovely couple and the home had very little to negotiate over so it was a smooth process and we moved in about a month later.

IMG_1544 (2)About 10  doors south from us is a grand white colonial home. Its two story façade is reminiscent of a southern plantation home. Joanne and Kelly moved in about 6 months after Alex and I, so we are both discovering the neighborhood at the same time. The colonial has been a labor of love for Joanne and Kelly for about 2 years. They are restoring the home which had been poorly maintained over a number of years and through a couple rentals. We first met Joanne and Kelly at a neighborhood mixer.  Turns out, Joanne & Kelly were the other bidders on our home. Kelly was disappointed he didn’t get our home, but we now laugh about how things might have been different for each of us had Joanne & Kelly been selected by our seller. Certainly, Alex and I would not have had the courage (or finances) to take on the restoration of the white colonial, but we are happily maintaining ours. Two historic homes saved.

Turns out, Joanne and I not only have a common interest in old homes, but we also love to decorate for the holidays. There are three homes on our street which go all out for holiday décor- us, Joanne’s and Judy’s (two doors north of Joanne). You can tell the season by looking at these three homes.  I was talking to Joanne about her Easter décor and complimenting her on her burlap banner with a cute little Easter bunny on it. It was from Pottery Barn and I had seen it in a recent catalogue. Turns out Joanne works there part time- apparently it helps with her decorating habits. Lucky gal, that Joanne.  One week later, Joanne was knocking at my door. She and her daughter Jenny were dropping by with a little Easter gift for me- a Burlap banner of my own!  Sometimes the generosity of my neighbors astounds me.  Now we match. Two historic homes, decked out for the Easter holiday.  Adorable!IMG_1573

How to be Neighborly: Home is where you hang your banner.

Easter evolves as follows at our place: 1) decorate, 2) eat chocolate, 3) make Easter eggs, 4) head to family brunch.  Here’s step #3.

Easter Eggs

My husband figured out how to boil the perfect egg- no gray edges! He shared his tricks with me, so I can share them with you. There are lots of variations on deviled eggs, and everyone has their favorite. This is mine. Many people use mayonnaise in their eggs, I don’t because my husband hates mayonnaise. I put the oil in its place to keep it from drying out too much.

  • 6 eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Smoked paprika

IMG_1564Put eggs in pot with ½ tsp salt, cover with water, and bring water to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat off, cover the pot and let sit for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, submerge eggs in ice water. Peel eggs and slice in half. Wipe your knife on a paper towel after each egg for clean whites.

Put yolks in a bowl with mustard, Dijon mustard, red pepper, oil, and ground pepper. Mix until smooth. Put the yolk mixture in a plastic bag, and snip off one corner. Pipe the yolks into the whites. Sprinkle with paprika.  Enjoy!

The Crust Off

Our friends with the pizza oven invented a new reason to fire it up last night: A Crust Off. Add competition to anything and I’m there. I never said I wasn’t competitive. The goal was to identify the perfect crust for future, larger, pizza parties.IMG_1915

The plan was in the works for a week. On Wednesday, we received specific instructions via email. Arrive early, 6:18 pm to be precise, recipe in hand, ready to set up the pizza station. Toppings would be provided, but we were instructed that if our crust would be “shown in a better light by your own toppings, please go for it.” The competition would begin at 7:00 pm. This was serious business.

I’d been travelling in Chicago all week and arrived home on Thursday at 9:45 pm. Friday I was in the OC, and was running around town visiting my clients. I left work early, 4:12 pm to be exact, stopped at the store for flour and yeast at 4:23 pm, and sped home to assemble and get my dough rising by 5:15 pm. My dough needs 1 hour to rise, so you can see the time line is important. It’s a 3 minute walk to the pizza oven. Nailed it.  I’m very punctual.

Three neighbors volunteered their creation for judgment: me, Ashley, and Kim. Although the host had also made some dough, he felt the home field advantage was too unfair to enter the competition himself, although we all enjoyed his offering. The judges were chosen: Jess, Jeff, Eric, and Rich. The competitors agreed that each dough should have the same toppings for fair judgment to occur. The dough’s were numbered, and randomly presented to the judges.

The first crust was very crispy, with strong wheat flavor… it felt healthy. The second crust was crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, slightly sweet. The final crust was also crisp, and very yeasty. All were good, and surprisingly different given they all contained the same thing: flour, salt, water, and yeast.

It was time for judgment. It was unanimous. The second crust was the winner. Whose was it? It doesn’t matter, they were all great. In the words of our host:

“We are all winners. Eat well”

That’s how to be neighborly, my friends, and yes we ate very well. The winning recipe is below. Ciao.

Pizza Dough

  • 2 c lukewarm water
  • ¼ c olive oil, plus more for rising
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 2 packages rapid rise yeast
  • 6 c flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 tsp kosher salt

Place water, olive oil, honey and yeast in stand mixer with dough hook and allow the yeast to bloom (about 3-5 minutes). Add flour and salt and mix on low until it comes together and pulls away from the sides. It should be one big ball attached to the hook.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until a smooth ball is formed. Put more olive oil (about 2 Tbsp) in the stand mixer bowl to coat the sides and bottom. Roll the dough in the olive oil and cover with a clean kitchen cloth. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

When ready to use, knead lightly for about 1 minute, then stretch onto pizza pan. Makes 4 pizzas.

Can divide into 4 balls and save for 3 days, or freeze.

The King House


As mentioned in a prior post, you must always be ready to share the history of your home.  So, come on in, let me tell you about the history of my home which I’ve discovered by researching historical archives, and

History: In 1929, CF Millen sold the land for the King House to Lee and Jennie King, under the stipulation that a home valued of at least $5,000 must be built on the site. Lee (born 1867) and Jennie (born 1874) were originally from Ohio and moved first to Utah, and then to Santa Ana in about 1920. Lee was a contractor. It is unclear if he was the builder. In 1930, construction of the home was completed.

The King’s chose to build in the French Norman Revival style. The French Normandy design style came into popularity following the first world war. With a growing middle class population in America, French chateaus became a model of inspiration in building their homes on a smaller scale, thereby creating a more affordable French styled home that came to be known as French Normandy. From the French chateaus, borrowed elements of steep roof pitches, high ridgelines, and dormers suggest the notion of a grand scaled estate. French Normandy and French provincial architecture details are often combined to create a style that is simply called “French Country”. While formally listed in the Historical Registry as Tudor, the style of the home has clear French influences.

Lee King was a car enthusiast and purchased a rare 1928 Locomobile 8-70 which remains in mint condition today. It is as well preserved as the home he built.  Lee King lived in the home until his death. The King family lived in the home until 1956 when it was sold to the Baxter’s. Clifford (born 1915) and Esther Baxter purchased the home in 1956. Clifford was a Santa Ana resident, and a parole officer. He ran for City Marshal in 1947 but was defeated. While he was a parole officer, Baxter led raids and testified about CA State Assembly Speaker Sam L. Collins’s involvement in a gambling ring. Baxter later admitted perjury and destruction of evidence in the case. He went on to become an attorney at Mize, Larsh, Mize, Hubbard & Baxter, and was the lead defense attorney for People v. Saterfield, where the jury verdicts found the defendant guilty of two counts of first degree murder and ordered the death penalty. After Clifford’s death in 1971, the Baxter family remained in the home until Walter Urie and Susan Fleming purchased the home in 1989, and they lovingly cared for the home for 23 years. Walter Urie is a commercial photographer and Susan is an artist. The home was sold to its current owners, Summer and Alex Martinez, in November 2012.

Features: The entry features the original chandelier and unique arches which appear though the entire home. The main floor features original hardwood floors throughout. Living room features original Batchelder Tile on fireplace, wood closet, and custom Iris stained glass. Both living room and dining room feature original mahogany windows and trim which have never been painted. The home still has the original glass knobs on each door, only one is missing.

The chandelier in the Dining Room is original and is hand painted to mimic Loetz Glass, a contemporary of Tiffany glass. The home has matching inset arched casings with original mahogany shelves. Vintage china adorns the shelves and is the Royal Worchester pattern (Princess Diana’s pattern), and was the owner’s grandmother’s set. The dining room table is from the 1940’s and was used by the current owner’s grandfather as a drafting table until his retirement. Vintage fruit labels decorate the dining room and are all vintage. Each has a special meaning to the owners.

Throughout the home, the lighting has been upgraded. The previous owners were artists and added spotlights to highlight their collection. The current owners placed their artwork to match the lighting.IMG_0900

The downstairs office features paneled walls and a desk that the prior owners left for the new owners.

The guest bath features original tile from 1930 on the walls and shower, and a reproduction floor. The wallpaper was chosen for its art deco feel, but modern touch. Notice the original glass pulls which adorn the built in cabinetry.

The master bedroom features the original closet, now a dressing room, and a remodeled master bath. The totally remodeled Master Bath has period tile work, large tub looking out to private courtyard, and walk-in shower with glass pony walls.

The Professional Kitchen features a 48 in. Thermador range, stainless steel appliances, custom birch cabinets, soapstone counters and travertine floors. The owners have maintained the French country feel despite having all the modern conveniences of a professional kitchen.

Upstairs, there is an office/loft, craft room, guest bedroom, and half bath assumed to have been added in the 40’s or 50’s. Out back, there is a 1200 sq. ft. game room (a.k.a “the Tap Room”) and workshop. The current owners use this space for parties, brewing beer and storage. It was built by the Baxter family who were also car enthusiasts and used the space as a garage.

Other People’s Houses

One of our neighbors is a pet sitter, and she seems to have stayed in half the homes in this neighborhood.  Lucky gal, right?  Oh, to see all that history.  I’d love that. She takes such good care of the pets when the parents vacation.  She walks them every day, plays with them, and talks to them.  She is a true animal lover.  She stayed at my parents’ house, and I swear they came home to a cleaner, more well behaved dog.  She’s so loved that when certain dogs are out for a walk with their parents and they see her, the dogs run toward her with such excitement, their tails wagging uncontrollably, that they drag their parents behind them.


Toby “Monster,” my parents’ oversized Aussie.


As good as dogs are at keeping us Company, occasionally she wants to talk to another adult.  Plus you can imagine it’s lonely staying in another person’s home without the comfort of your own home around you.  Because 1) we know several of the home owners and have been to their home before, 2) she asks permission of the owners, and 3) dogs are social animals and enjoy the company, occasionally we will visit her while she is pet sitting.   This was one of those days.  Now, this may seem odd to visit other people’s homes while they aren’t there, but for this neighborhood, it’s really not.  I would note that you have to check off criteria 1, 2 and 3 for this to be acceptable, but if you meet them, go for it.  Plus, this wasn’t a college rave, it was a group of adults, chatting over Kale & Onion Tart.  Good company, good food, good dogs… good night.

How to be neighborly: Mi casa, su casa

Here’s the tart we chatted about.

Kale & Onion Tart



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 c kale, chopped, loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp sundried tomatoes
  • 1/3 c ricotta
  • 1 c Comte cheese, grated


  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, chopped into ½ inch squares
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ c water


Make the tart shell by combining flour, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. While the food processor is running, drizzle in olive oil. While the food processor is running, drizzle in water. The dough should start to form in to a ball. If it’s too dry, add a little more water in 1 tablespoon increments. Roll dough into a circle and press into a tart shell. (*) Keep dough in the refrigerator until the filling is ready.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté the onion, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in olive oil until slightly translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add Kale to the onion mixture, sauté for one minute, and remove from the heat. The kale should only be lightly wilted. It will cook in the tart.


Fill the tart shell with onion and kale mix. Top with tomatoes, drops of ricotta, then grated Comte.


Bake at 400 degrees for 30 mins. Serve warm.


(*) For easy rolling and clean up, I use two pieces of plastic wrap placed on the counter in a square as a mat for the dough, and then another two pieces on top and roll the dough between the plastic wrap. Keeps the counter and rolling pin clean, and is easy to remove the dough from the wrap.  You could also use a store bought pie crust, but it’s so easy and cheap to make this, why would you???

The Breakfast Club

Last Sunday, we and a couple neighbors decided to get together for an impromptu breakfast. We decided we wanted to start a club… a breakfast club… in celebration of good friends, good food, and good mimosa’s. It was hosted in one of my favorite backyards (#yardenvy) with the most beautiful outdoor room, complete with a long dining table, orbital chandelier, and fireplace. To lessen the pressure on the hosts, we all contributed a dish or drinks.  One attendee had squeezed the orange juice fresh from her tree for the mimosas.  There were bloody mary’s too, but more on that in another post.  One couple brought a fresh kale salad harvested from their garden, and the hosts provided the obligatory bacon and eggs.  My contribution was some simple French Toast, and fruit with whipped cream. I always like to add a little something special to my dishes, so I added nutmeg and cinnamon to both the French Toast and the whipped cream. Everyone seemed to love it. The whipped cream ended up not only on the fruit, but on toast and coffee too.

How to be neighborly: Nothing beats a good mimosa.

Here’s my recipe for the perfect whipped cream to top seasonal off fruit.


Spiced Whipped Cream

  • ½ c whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp Brandy
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Combine all together and mix with a handheld mixer, or a whip if you want a workout.

Painting Poles

We don’t just live in a historic home, we live in a historic area.  Our streets have street lights and street signs just like every neighborhood, but our lights are very special. They are typical 1920’s lampposts made from solid cast iron and they’ve been illuminating our homes for over 80 years. Anything that old needs a facelift every so often, so we paint them every two years- north side on even years, south side on odd years. The problem is that we live in a city with very little finances for such up-keep, so the volunteer neighborhood association has to maintain them. We do this just prior to the annual home tour which raises money for our scholarship foundation and neighborhood events. Annually in March on a Saturday morning, a group of about 15-20 neighbors get together and paint the poles. One group cleans, one group paints, another group “manages supplies.” Alex insisted that we get involved in the neighborhood association early on and volunteer for this. I secretly think it’s because he loves to play with his ladder (that’s him below on the top step).

The first year, Alex and I were on a painting team and we were paired with another Alex, who lives on our most elegant street. He and his partner Mason own one of the younger historic homes which was designed by the owner of a Hawaiian hotel chain.  The house looks as if it could be plucked off the Waikiki shore, with waves washing up against the palm trees scattered around the front yard. Naturally his home is full of 1960’s Hawaiian splendor and has a lush tropical garden in back surrounding a huge pool. As a prerequisite to the painting, we got toIMG_0880 work discussing the history of our respective homes. Eventually we got around to painting. You can’t imagine the number of innuendos possible when painting light posts. As if that weren’t fun enough, imagine my delight when the “supply” team arrived with screwdrivers (and I don’t mean the tool type) and doughnuts. Fifty-ish poles later and we had made a notable difference in the appearance of our streets. Our poles were clean and shiny. We were dirty and slightly sauced. Good day.

How to be Neighborly: You have to get a little dirty for some good clean fun.

Bloody Screwdriver

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part orange juice
  • ½ part ginger juice (*)
  • 2 parts blood orange soda

Combine vodka, orange juice and ginger juice in shaker and shake. Put in glass with ice, and top with blood orange soda. Garnish with orange wheel and mint.

(*) See Ginger Juice recipe below


Ginger Juice


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This is the perfect mix in for a cocktail, not too sweet and just enough heat.


  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 4 c water
  • 6 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped into 1 inch pieces


Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until ginger has been pureed. Strain into 2 mason jars. Remaining ginger pulp can be saved for soups, marinades, or other uses.

Blurred Lines

Wayne & Merle’s wedding was held at a home just a block from our house. It’s a cute Spanish style home and with a lush backyard fashioned after a beloved time share in Cabo San Lucas. It has a beautiful pool, lots of shade and places to lounge, a built in restaurant grade beer fridge, and it always has a bar set up. That day, however, it was set up for an intimate wedding with 50 guests- and we were lucky enough to be two of them. Family and friends of the happy couple were in attendance, celebrating a lifetime of love and companionship. This was a marriage 20+ years in the making, and was finally possible because the Case Against 8 (Proposition 8, that is) had finally been won (P.S. You must see this documentary). #LoveWins I’d seen a lot of weddings in my time as a wedding coordinator, but I’ve honestly never seen a couple so in love and committed to a union. You couldn’t help but cry over the victory that these two could finally be legally married. They had waited a long time.

In W&M fashion, they were supporting the local community by hiring a local restaurant from DTSA to cater their wedding. Everything was served family style on large platters to share.  The meal began with the most divine sweet and briny olive, cheese and honey appetizer. I will forever love that dish. Dinner was delicious and sharing it with these new friends made it that much sweeter.

It wouldn’t be a wedding without dancing, so tables were moved to make way for the dance floor. The happy couple shared their first dance. This would have been the time for the party to really start, but it was still daylight and it’s hard to get people to dance in daylight. Well, until you play the right music. Enter the magical “Sonos” machine… I made the request for Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines… and Sonos went into action.  “Everybody get up!” instructed Thicke from the speakers.  Yep, that worked. A better party was never had. From then on, I couldn’t hear that song without thinking of joyfulness and that wedding.

How to be Neighborly: Each home has a family and each family is unique. Honor that.

Here’s my attempt to recreate that divine dish we shared.


Olive Tapenade with Farmer’s Cheese & Honey

  • 1 c ricotta
  • 1/2 c black olives
  • 1/4 c kalamata olives
  • 1/2 green/Spanish olives
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Honey
  • Bread toasted with olive oil (6 slices, cut in half)

Place the ricotta in cheese cloth in a strainer and let some of the whey drain off.  In a small food processor place the black olives, kalamata olives, and green olives with pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg.  Pulse until a paste forms.

Serve with toasted bread.  Layer toast, then cheese, then tapenade, then honey.  Enjoy!





Martini Night


It was April.  I’m a CPA and each year, I go into a work induced “hibernation” called “busy season.” While the rest of the world enjoys winter and gets excited over the first signs of spring, I work. Alex, on the other hand, has a bit more freedom at this time of year to be outdoors, which he loves. One of the ways he passes the “alone time” is to walk Wiley. Wayne and Merle are avid dog walkers. Their dogs, Elzaer and Akiki, are a unique breed- Basenji’s- and are well known throughout the neighborhood. The fact that Wayne refers to them as “Devil Dogs” should not imply that they are mean, but I will admit they do have a mischievous side. Wiley, Elzaer and Akiki began to see each other a lot at this time of year, and Wayne and Merle would constantly invite Alex and I to Martini Night, which apparently happened every Friday that the local Baseball team was at an away game (Wayne & Merle are season ticket holders). I would always be working, or tired, or you name it… Well, eventually Alex, proclaimed, “Summer, they are going to stop inviting us if we don’t go at least once. We have to do this.” So, one April evening, we took on Martini Night. That night, Wayne’s mother Virge was visiting from Canada, and two of their friends Jerry and Kelly were visiting from another neighborhood. We chatted all night, first about the history of the home (of course) and then about each other. We found out that Wayne and Merle were going to get married that summer. Maybe it was the Martini’s, maybe it was the hope of friendship, but after one night of getting to know each other, Wayne had invited us to the wedding.

How to be Neighborly: Being neighborly opens new doors.

A bit about Wayne & Merle: They know everyone. They help with everything. They form the fabric of our community. They are the definition of great neighbors. If you need anything, they will be there for you. Their home is beautiful (also French style) and they love sharing it with others.

As a former wedding coordinator, I’m a sucker for a good wedding. There was no way I could possibly say no to that invitation. It was that wedding that would introduce us to a new family. This is the martini that started it all, or at least my version of it.


W&M’s Jalapeno Martini

  • 1 inch slice cucumber, plus more for garnish
  • 1 inch slice jalapeno
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 1/3 oz olive juice (or pickled Jalapeno Juice if you like it very spicy)

Place cucumber and jalapeno in cocktail shaker with ice and muddle until cucumber and jalapeno are mashed.  Add vodka and olive juice (or jalapeno juice if using).  Shake until cold.  Serve in martini glass.  Garnish with cucumber and/or jalapeno.