Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fun Drink Concoctions from Coastal Living Magazine

This is the first time in a very long time that I will not be with my family for the fourth of July... A little weird, but I am kind of excited about being in San Francisco for the holiday.  It will be my first, here in my new city.  We have a great view from our deck of the central part of the San Francisco Bay and the San Mateo bridge - should have a glorious viewing spot for the fireworks in Foster City.
(image courtesy of

Needless to say, I think we will be having our own personal (ah... so romantic!) Independence Day Celebration right on our own lanai.  Need to plan out a fun menu for the two of us.... where to start?

Got to thinking about coming up with some fun new summer drinks to try and stumbled on Coastal Living Magazine's 21 Favorite Cocktails.  Here's a few that I thought might be really fun to try this weekend!

Red ...

Margarita de Sandia - Watermelon

1 cup sugar
1cup of water
3 1/2 cups of cubed, seeded watermelon
3/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup lime juice
crushed ice

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; cool.
Process watermelon in a blender until smooth. Combine all ingredients, and shake well.  Doesn't this just sound refreshing - perfect for a hot July afternoon?
(recipe and photo courtesy of Richard Sandoval, Richard Sandoval, Coastal Living, JANUARY 2006)

(photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Erynn Hedrick Hassinger)
Frozen White Chocolate

  • 1/4  cup  (2 ounces) white chocolate liqueur
  • 1/4  cup  (2 ounces) Irish cream liqueur
  • 2  tablespoons  (1 ounce) clear crème de cacao
  • 3  cups  vanilla ice cream
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth

(Recipe courtesy of Julia Rutland, Coastal Living, 2010)

And Blue!
(photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Erynn Hedrick Hassinger)
Blended Blue Hawaiian
1/3  cup  (2 1/2 ounces) pineapple vodka
2  tablespoons  (1 ounce) blue curaçao
  • 2  tablespoons  (1 ounce) coconut rum
  • 1  tablespoon  (1/2 ounce) amaretto
  • 2  tablespoons  (1 ounce) fresh lime juice
  • 1/4  cup  agave nectar, simple syrup, or sugar
  • 4  cups  ice 

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth, pour into pretty glasses and serve with a lime or pineapple garnish - yum!

(recipe courtesy of Julia Rutland, Coastal Living, 2010)

Now to plan the appetizers and main dish!  Have a great Wednesday everyone - 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Passionate about Interior Design Books!

Read a post earlier this morning, about selling or giving things away that you regret... I do regret giving some of my interior design books away, the good news is that  now I can buy more!

Did I tell you about the book shelf that Tom and I built for my office? My inspiration "spot"  when I get a little frustrated and am looking for new ideas.  Business and marketing ideas, as well as dreaming about creating beautiful spaces filled with color, interest, and joy.

Introducing a few of my new interior design favorites -

So Chic "Glamous Lives, Stylish Spaces" from the pages of Elle Decor.

There are more than 30 homes profiled in this beautiful book - celebrity homes, designers homes, small spaces (Thomas O'Brien) to a gorgeous palatial home owned by Maria Beatrice and Leonardo Ferragamo. Absolute eye candy!

Love love love Ricky and Ralph Lauren's beautiful home on Montauk Point, on Long Island.   Full of classic ocean and nautical decor; vintage rattan, model sailing ships, sea grass woven rugs, comfy white slip covered furniture - perfect!

"Liza Bruce's apartment in Jaipur is so exuberant that is seems as if children had been put in charge of decoration" What wonderful color saturation she has - fuchsias, lime green, teals,sunset oranges all on  luscious fabrics,  cushions and floral pillows!

John Derian's home is full of fabulous, interesting, treasured flea market finds from his travels all over the world.  Very easy to see how these vintage, antique finds helped to inspire his incredible decoupage art pieces - many of them coastal inspired!    From the John Derian Site - beautiful shell chart pencil tray, just one of the many designs he creates.

I am a huge Jonathan Adler  fan.  In fact, the store in the Fillmore District is always on my tour when we have friends visit us here in San Francisco - here's Allison checking out some of their fun, yummy scented candles.  I love his use of brilliant color,  mixing and matching of patterns, styles and even eras. Fresh, clean, but classic and fun all at the same time.

On my first trip to the Fillmore store (none of these cool stores to be found in Seattle!) I picked up Jonathan Adler's "My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living" -  this book definitely delivers that.

This is a "Can't Miss" book for great ideas about mixing patterns and breathing new life into a favorite vintage piece. Also can't miss for great advice about creating spaces that you love, without following any kind of "prescription".  To be honest, reading this will simply make you smile, make you giggle, and will encourage you to think about decorating in a whole new light.

These Jonathan Adler Manifesto statements will give you a little insight into what can be found inside - (short list only!)

  • We believe your home should make you happy
  • We believe in the dorky enthusiasm
  • We believe that design should look old and new at the same time
  • We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences. 
  • We believe minimalism is a bummer
  • We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing.
P.S.  I am so lucky! I managed to get one of the autographed copies - 

Have to share just a few more shots of the store in the Fillmore District!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Island Cookie Break!

Quick break today from beach reading, for cookies made from white chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts. It's been a really rough week, I found myself craving chocolate comfort cookies. Originally white chocolate and milk chocolate chips cookies sounded pretty good, but then I spotted this recipe on the white chip package. (I will probably still give you a list of some of my favorites from the past year!)

Island Cookies

  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (forgot this last night and had to send Tom back to the store!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine.  (I like to use margarine in cookies - seems to make them a little softer and gooey)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (12 oz) white chips
  • 1 cup coconut flakes - toasted if you would like
  • 3/4 cup macadamia  nuts or walnuts

Heat oven to 375.

Mix butter/margarine and sugars, until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together dry ingredients and add them to sugar mixture. Then blend in coconut, chips, and nuts.   Bake 8-10 minutes.

Enjoy every bite!  

Now... what to read with your cookies and milk?

For times when I need a quick stress relief, cannot recommend Gift From The Sea highly enough.  This classic is timeless and holds true even after 55+ years.  Insightful, calming....
"In this inimitable, beloved classic—graceful, lucid and lyrical—Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life" 

Still one of the best books that I have read in the past few years - Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen.  Tragic and beautiful all mixed together in this tale of a struggling circus train - "The Great 

Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth",

 during the early years of the Great Depression. The myriad cast of characters will stay with you long after you put the book down. MUST have on your book shelf.

One of my very best friends, Suzanne Droppert,  owns a small independent bookstore in Poulsbo, WA , Liberty Bay Books, I have been incredibly fortunate to have been able in the last few years to help her with several author events. It's one thing to read, but quite another to actually hear an author speak and bring a whole new perspective to their story.  In November of 2008, we had event with the Kitsap Regional Library and with the areas'  regional bookstores for Lisa See.  We managed to fill an auditorium at the local community college! There were so many people, and she was a fascinating story teller -  stories about growing up Chinese, but not Chinese... I finally had a chance when I moved to CA to read Peony in Love.  Rich characters and places that bring alive imagination  - 

Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place–even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence, a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors offer guidance, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth. Immersed in the richness and magic of the Chinese vision of the afterlife, transcending even death

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. This was another great author that I had the opportunity to hear speak last winter on Bainbridge Island. The Poisonwood Bible is a rich layered story of a missionary family that traveled to the Congo in 1959, a time of great upheaval in Africa, the Unites and the World . WOW- Difficult to describe this incredible journey.. another MUST have for your bookshelf. 

"They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil" 

Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah This is the latest book of Kristin's that I have read, (mine is autographed!)  just one story in a long line of many.  I have a special place for Kristin, as she is a local Puget Sound girl, and has written many "chic-lit", books that are simply feel good.  For me, they are especially fun to read because I can imagine many of the places she is describing.  Kristin is a wonderful writer, and totally down to earth.  You will love her! 
Winter Garden is a tale of that takes the characters from the orchards of Eastern Washington to the war-torn streets of Russia.  Great tale, and again, I learned so much that I didn't know about the people and their struggle in Russia in the mid-part of this century.  WWII was particularly heartbreaking...

Enjoy the cookies!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Beach Reads - Part 2

Got some great responses yesterday from readers and from Facebook friends!  Thanks for the input- here's a few of their suggestions:

MaryThe Family Man by Elinor Lipman - fun read!

From Lee: "get ready, I have got some good summer books for you!
I love Florida, and we discovered these great authors who write about Florida. They are hilarious reads
Tim Dorsey-He writes about Serge Storms and his buddy, Coleman.
Robert Tacoma- also funny, and good reads, he writes more about the Keys
Bob Morris-He writes about the Caribbean, also very good
Carl Hiassen- another Florida author, funny and suspenseful
I recently read a book by Claire Cook- Life's a Beach. Light reading, a beach book, but she is a sea glass jewelry artist, so I enjoyed it.
Try these authors, you won't be sorry!"

Have to be honest with all of you - I LOVE Carl Hiassen!  I think I have read every single one of his books.  Great bad guys - stooopid bad guys, hilarious characters.  So far from the norm, that they are actually believable!  All take place in Florida - good and bad Florida; swamps, Miami Beach, the Keys... 

If you are an Elmore Leonard fan, Carl Hiassen's books will remind you a little of the style of  "Get Shorty" and Chili Palmer.  If you have not ever read any Elmore Leonard, you should try one of these too.  I started reading Elmore Leonard when I lived in Hawaii and spent many many happy hours laying in the white sand at Bellows Beach. 

Then there is my favorite Jimmy Buffet book - "A Salty Piece of Land". Kicking myself for lending this to a friend a few years ago, the worst part is, I don't know who I lent it to!  Crazy characters, living crazy dreams - and it all works out.  

For some Laugh Out Loud stories - try the Stephanie Plum series! Starts with "One for the Money" and goes all the way up to the latest book "Sizzling Sixteen".  I just finished "Fearless Fourteen",  Stephanie Plum is a really really bad bounty hunter, is always broke, and usually wrecks a car or two in each book, quick funny books - perfect for an afternoon by the pool!

Was introduced to Mary Kay Andrews a few summers ago - love her books! All take place in Georgia, on the coast and in Savannah - guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

I started with Savannah Breeze and then moved on to Deep Dish, and then the Fixer Upper.  All fun - great reads with wonderful characters. 

Well, there's a few more for your beach bag! 

More tomorrow!

Monday, June 21, 2010

1st Day of Summer 2010 - Beach Reads Part 1

For the past several months, I have been compiling a list of some of my best-loved beach reads to share on this blog.   My entire life, I have surrounded myself with books; adventure stories, love stories, biographies, war stories, classics, poetry, history - cannot imagine a life without the many rich layers of literature.  Whenever I have needed another perspective outside of my little town, there was always a story to be read about another part of the world, another part of the country, about someone else's struggle and triumphs, someone that was a different color than me, someone that had a completely different life from my own....

I discovered Rosamunde Pilcher's books many years ago when my children were small and my life was incredibly stressful. I worked full-time, and had these little bodies to take care of - I am not sure that I even slept during those years!  I do remember these books though. When the Allison and Alex would finally fall asleep, I would then find some Earl Grey, make a nice steaming cup of tea with honey toast. Snuggling  up in the covers reading about Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall., I was a very happy girl  Could escape for a few hours into the British Isle moors full of lilac-colored heather, could smell  and feel the cold beaches of the Atlantic Sea... ah, a few minutes of peace.

The Short List -  (keep in mind, these are not new books!)
Shell Seekers - published 1988. Read this entire book on my way to meet my ex-husband in Amsterdam.  Very good friend for a very long plane flight. (was a tv movie too, I believe)
September - 1990
Coming Home 1995
Snow in April 1972
Wild Mountain Thyme 1979
Sleeping Tiger 1967
Winter Solstice 2000

If you have never read The Secret Garden, this is also a MUST read.  I think when I read this at age 8 is probably when I started my love affair Scotland and the cold, lonely, windy moors.  It's also one of the first books that my grandmother Thea introduced to me.  The next series of books that she started me on was the Anne of Green Gables books - my project for the summer is to re-read these fabulous stories!   Better find the library here in California though, because my books are packed someplace in Washington.

Snow Falling on Cedars, and most recently Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, (different authors) exposed my cloistered small town life to prejudice and hate within my own community home of the Puget Sound.  Both stories deal with society's shortcomings, misunderstandings, love and with the Japanese Internment Camps in Washington and around the West Coast.  I had such an idyllic childhood in the 70's, and had NO idea of this history of Seattle area in the 1940's.

Cutting for Stone  Not sure where to start with this novel, or how to accurately describe the impact that this story had on me. The story takes you from India, to Ethiopia, to the United States and back to Ethiopia.  I am so lucky to have Suzanne for a friend, as she owns an Independent Bookstore in Poulsbo, and I have been fortunate to have read many many books before they ever hit the regular bookshelves.  This was one of them, and this was one of my favorites from last summer.  I know NOTHING about Ethiopia, and read this to have an insight into another part of the world, ended up on an tangled emotional journey and mystery between twin brothers.  All with the strife in Ethiopia in the background...

Velva Jean Learns to Drive  This was another book that I pulled out of the stack of galleys about a young girl growing up in the Appalachian Mountains before World War II. She was wonderful! Again, I had a chance to read about another part of our big country that I have never seen - while reading this, you can taste the clear water in the brooks, you can feel the earth between Velva Jean's toes as she runs through the life-giving lush forests.   She has big dreams, and gets a little sidetracked by a charismatic preacher - I believe she really does love him, but also wants more,struggles with wanting more (gee, I get that!), before she straps on her shoes, and turns the truck ignition  key to go to find her real voice.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  My daughter bought this wonderful book for me for Christmas this year.  Once I started it, I could not put it down.  I confess, I sat in a barca-lounger at our beach cottage on the Oregon Coast, in my leopard PJ's - sun streaming through the windows, and read the entire story in one day. Once again, was reminded of how ignorant I really am - I didn't know the history of the Guernsey Islands, had no idea that they even existed.  During WWII, these islands were occupied by the Germans starting in 1940, and were completely cut-off from the outside world.  The novel is a series of letters and tells the story of the survival of the islanders in such a fresh new way, completely unlike anything I have ever read.  Romantic, endearing, eccentric characters...cannot recommend it highly enough!

Endurance   I love this story of the Endurance and Shackleton's crew in the Antarctic. Amazing adventure story -  all true. Incredible photography and so well researched.  Any time I am feeling a little down, I just think of this crew, how WITHOUT Gortex, or any other modern cold-weather gear, they survived and thrived after getting their ship stuck in the ice.  Sort of a weird present for me one Christmas, but one book that is always on my bookshelf.

Well, that's a few to get your started on your reading list for this summer! More to follow this week  - including some of my recommended Interior Design Books.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Recipes for Summer Parties - and A Contest!

Here's the scoop:
We're having a contest (sort of) at Caron's Beach House. I spent about 3 hours writing and sending out the "Beach Club Member"  newsletter this morning full of fun recipes to enjoy with friends, and then I got to thinking about all of the blog readers that may not receive the newsletter..  So, thought maybe I should extend the contest to all of the blog readers too!

Happy Summer!

School's out..graduations are done.. time for vacations,  it's that time of year when we want to invite family and friends over to spend time on the deck, at a sandy beach, on board the boat, or gathered around a roaring beach fire. Time to relax, kick back, enjoying the laid back feel of summer sun 
and sea breezes....

**We're having a contest!  We're inviting our friends to share their favorite appetizer, dessert or cocktail concoctions,  just drop us a line! The first 5 that we receive will win a $10.00 gift certificate  from Caron's + we'll publish your recipe on the next newsletter!  (or blog post with credit given to you and your blog)

I am so looking forward to trying ALL of them! (Tom is excited too!) Here's where to send your entry:

Enjoy one of the recipes from the newsletter - courtesy of Coastal Living Magazine!  **For more beach party recipes - check out our Beach Club Newsletter!

Caron's Signature
Greek Shrimp Bruschetta - Courtesy of Coastal Living Magazine

So Easy - So Delish!
Here's what you need to get started:

  • 1/3  cup  olive oil, divided
  • 3/4  pound  small fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  minced garlic
  • 2  large plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2  cup  sliced green onion
  • 1/2  cup  crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4  cup  finely chopped parsley
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  teaspoons  minced fresh thyme
  • 1  teaspoon  Greek seasoning
  • 1  French baguette, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slicesHeat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté shrimp and garlic 3 to 4 minutes until shrimp are cooked.
Transfer to a small bowl and chill.
Combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place bread slices on a baking sheet; brush bread with remaining olive oil. Bake at 375º for 8 minutes. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon shrimp mixture onto each bread slice.

These look so easy to prepare - and delicious!  Could see how you easily impress your friends with your host/hostess skills - 

If you are not already a Beach Club Member, I am inviting you to join now!

  • Exclusive Coupons
  • Contests
  • Recipes
  • Entertaining Ideas
  • Decorating Ideas
  • New Product Announcements from Caron's Beach House
  • Sign up on any page of our website -
Have a wonderful Father's Day weekend - see you at the beach!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Glamourous Life - Photo Shoots on the Deck!

Happy Summer Thursday!

Quick blog post to share my glamourous morning. (ha ha ha)  Gorgeous hot sunshine on my view deck, Smudge (my 18 year old lovey kitty)  sleeping next to my tomato and herb plants, Tom and I drinking coffee, having some strawberries, watching the world go by in our PJ's.  Good thing we are on the top floor, our hope is that  no one can see us!  You know the drill, hair sticking up in all directions, no makeup....

Feeling a little guilty, so thought we had better get to work.  Tom off to the mortgage world and me off to the exciting of world of e-tailing.... let's see what do I need to do today to drive some customers to the Caron's site? I know, I will write a newsletter full of recipes for summer entertaining.

Great idea!  Hmmmm... recipes are easy, but need a "party" picture. Iron a tablecloth, haul out some Caron's Beach House inventory and go for it!  Don't worry, we weren't really drinking wine at 8:00 in the morning, it's only cran-raspberry juice! 

Aha! A photo-staging party on the deck! Still in my pj's.... Don't worry, I won't scare you all any pictures of me. I think some of the pictures came out pretty good though.  Perfect opportunity to re-shoot some of the products on the website, now you can really see how fantabulous (yes, it's a word!)  the napkin boxes and wine coasters really are.  Think I better go unpack some of the other products in the warehouse and take the pictures tomorrow morning.....

Tomorrow is soon enough, will finish newsletter today, then  will be running off to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito to see baby sea lions.  (PS  If you would like to receive the newsletter - just sign up on any page of my website, http://www.caronsbeachhouse, or even on my fb page:

See you at the beach!

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