Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Summer Solstice Record Spin

Quick– how many 45s can you rattle off that contain references to the sun? If you are a music lover, chances are good that you are hopping on the vinyl train and building up your collection. If not, get in touch with your best record geek pal who also owns a player. The plan: a Super Summer Solstice Backyard Record Spin. You will need a functional player (it is always good to have an additional one back-up) and some vintage discs. Invite your guests to tote their 45s and 33s, even 78s if they have them hiding in a closet. 33s especially come in handy so that you don't have to keep hopping up to flip the record. Also, don't just have one designated DJ. Encourage everyone to get in the mix and take turns spinning the tunes. That way, a natural flow will emerge and you will enjoy an eclectic variety of music. If one person is being a little piggy though, be sure to gently nudge them off the turntable so that everyone does in fact have a chance to play.

Break out the folding chairs and a long table for snacks and beverages, buffet-style. The signature cocktail should of course be a "Sunny Sangria:"

Bottle of white wine, like Chardonnay or Pinot Gris

Flavored sparkling water, such as orange or raspberry


1 lime, seeded 

1 lemon seeded




Wash and cut up fruit and fill a large serving pitcher 1/4 full. Add the bottle of white wine and let it sit in fridge overnight to ferment well. 

When ready to serve, fill an individual glass of ice, add sangria mix, and top with a splash of sparkling water.

You can also make a non-alcoholic version with R.W. Knudsen's Morning Blend Juice. Some times it is appreciated to have a pitcher of each available. Be sure to mark the spiked one!

So get down, get funky with your bad selves while you're digging the songs. Here is part of a sample sunny playlist that I actually used for a past Winter Solstice (Interestingly, the songs work well for winter or summer):

Sunny- Bobby Hebb

Cheap Sunglasses- ZZ Top

Green-Eyed Lady- Sugarloaf

Sunset- Roy Orbison

Behind the Sun- Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sun Goddess (Live)- Earth, Wind & Fire

Sunset People- Donna Summer

Sun is Shining- Bob Marley

Sun- John Lydon

Everyday Sunshine- Fishbone

Invisible Sun- The Police

The Sun Always Shines On TV- a-ha

Sun King- The Beatles

On the Sunny Side of the Street- Ella Fitzgerald

Blue Skies- Frank Sinatra

St. Louis Blues- Billie Holiday

I'll Follow the Sun- The Beatles

You are my Sunshine- "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack



Photo by Salvatore Vuono from

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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work has been featured in her new blog, Off The Beaten Path for the Shepherd Express online (, and the Wisconsin Life radio show for WPR. She recently adopted a little grey and white cat named Tessa, after beloved 22-year-old Bootise passed on.


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