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

 

 

 

Martini Night

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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.

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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.