Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trying to Get Organized

Why is it that the fall season always makes me want to get my house organized? Must be from all the years of starting projects when the kids are back in school after a great long summer. I find myself cleaning out closets and trying to pass along items that are no longer needed but certainly still usable. I am trying to save less and less, which is always a challenge but so rewarding when the clutter disappears. Wicker baskets make great spots to hold what you need easy access to, but still feel organized. Wall hooks near your door are always a great way to hold your keys, coats and things you use regularly. And, of course, Sadie's many leashes! I used a simple white cabinet with wicker storage baskets to hold throw blankets in our family room. I also put one in our front hall with baskets to hold beach badges and sunscreen for our days on the beach. Luckily, storage solutions have come a long way from plastic bins!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Favorite Long Beach Island Restaurants

I do enjoy going out to dinner, even in the summer with the massive influx of people vacationing on our little island. But, this time of year is so peaceful down there, and the majority of the restaurants close for the season. Luckily, my two favorite restaurants stay open all year! Both have interesting fare done with an eclectic twist. In the Plantation Restaurant you feel as though, well, you are sitting in the dining room of a wealthy plantation owner. Lots of palm frond paitings with wicker and rattan furnishings. Now, DaddyO Restaurant, well, just does not feel like you are at the Jersey Shore, or anywhere in that vicinity! The interior of this restaurant is quite amazing. Bold red leather seating and a myriad of crystal chandeliers. It has been featured on the Today Show and is a very popular boutique hotel. By the way, the food is pretty fabulous! If your travels ever take you to Long Beach Island, check out both of these restaurants!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Isola Bella New Coastal Pillow Collection

Hoorah!! The new coastal collection from Isola Bella is now available. A mixture of beautiful linen fabrics adorned with handpainted gifts from the sea. Artist, Gina Feddersen, has created a refreshing new line of classically contemporary beach decor accent pillows. Each 18" square pillow is handpainted with earth friendly inks and a very soft 19" pillow insert. 26 new styles to choose from . . . the choices!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ipe Wood Decking for Life at the Beach!

Before renovating our beach house, our decking material consisted of fiberglass which was a very difficult surface to keep up with. Every time it rained, the water would pool on the surface and you had to sweep the excess water into the drainage system. Not to mention how dirty it always was. Needless to say, the dirt from outside was always ending up inside. When we did our big renovation, my husband researched decking options very carefully. We ended up doing our deck with ipe wood which looks beautiful. It does not contain any added harmful chemicals like pressure treated wood options, but will still last a very long time. It has the durability and strength of teak for less money. If left untreated, it will weather to a light gray that can be power-washed back to its original hue. We have decided to finish our deck on an annual basis so that it retains its original wood tone. We also learned through our research that ipe wood has a Class A fire rating, which is the same rating given to steel and concrete. For us, it was the perfect choice!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lobster Mac and Cheese Recipe -

I have noticed recently that some restaurants are offering updated versions of the childhood favorite, macaroni and cheese. This recipe was featured in Coastal Living Magazine recently and sounds delicious! Happy cooking!

Lobster Mac and Cheese Recipe - "Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

16 ounces corkscrew pasta
6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated Gruyčre cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup minced fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound coarsely chopped cooked lobster meat
2 cups oyster crackers, crushed
1. Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
2. Place 4 tablespoons melted butter in a saucepot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion; cook 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Whisk in flour; cook 1 minute. Pour in milk; bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 3 minutes or until sauce is smooth and thickened.
3. Remove from heat, and whisk in cheeses and next 3 ingredients. Stir in 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Fold in pasta and lobster. Pour into a greased 3-quart baking dish.
4. Combine crushed crackers and remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Stir in remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until crust is crisp and sauce bubbles. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Coastal Living, OCTOBER 2010"

Friday, October 22, 2010


I don't mind a little sand on my floor at the beach, it comes with living here. I love having hardwood floors at the beach. Choices in throw rugs and area rugs are endless. Natural fiber rugs always look at home at the beach. Small accent rugs are an inexpensive and easy way to bring a little color to your floor without covering the whole area. Easy care rugs that you can simply just shake out are perfect for life at the beach. I searched for quite a long time for the area rug I envisioned for our new living room/dining room space. When I finally found it, it had been discontinued. I kept searching for something to replace it and finally did find something I liked, although not as much as my first choice. When I ordered the second rug, it too, was discontinued. Back to square one. The good news is, I waited so long that my original rug choice became available again!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Autumn in NY

I never tire of NYC. We just spend an extended weekend with friends from Washington State and the suburbs of St. Louis. Although I have been in NYC countless times, we were there this past weekend to show our guests the city, and I think we did quite a lot! We walked to Fifth Avenue and browsed the shops, visited St. Patrick's and then had lunch at the Rockefeller Cafe to watch the ice skaters. We did a carriage ride through Central Park. Then it was off to pre-theatre dinner at Becco's and finally, the play of their choosing, "Mama Mia". We had already seen this play, but I did forget how much fun it was! The main character was actually played by the understudy and she was fabulous. A late night stroll through Times Square to visit the M&M store and a stop at a local bar to watch our Yankees win! A visit to Macy's Herald Square (a must in NYC). Saturday found us on a lunch cruise around the city. A visit to Ground Zero and the beautiful iron cross that the workers made from the steel of the buildings. Back to the streets. Walking through Chinatown heading toward Little Italy. We ate at one of the many great restaurants in Little Italy then headed to the Empire State Building. I have actually never been up there at night so that was a new experience for me and quite beautiful, but packed. Sunday found us traveling the city on one of those double-decker buses ending up in South Street Seaport for an outdoor lunch. By Sunday we were all exhausted and my husband and I were thankful that all we had to do is drive across the river and not get on a plane!

Perfect Colors for that Outside Shower

One of the hidden treasures of a beach house is the mandatory outdoor shower. More than just a space for a hose to rinse off the sand from the beach, I have been pondering colors for our newly renovated outdoor shower, when I came across this photo from Coastal Living magazine. These colors are perfect . . . I love the bold yellow and white against the vibrant periwinkle background. Reminds me of the retro cabanas that used to line the resort beaches. Love those colors!!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My New Favorite Beach Cookbook

While staying at the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, our room was furnished with some reading material . . . including the "Summertime Anytime Cookbook". . . recipes from "Shutters on the Beach" which looks like an amazing hotel in Santa Monica. I started casually leafing through it and copying down some recipes that looked interesting. I finally decided I should just purchase the book because there were so many recipes I wanted to try. In between chapters there are antedotes about life on the beach and the recipe chapters all have wonderful coastal themes (Sunny Days, Cloudy Days, Balmy Nights, etc.) This is the absolute perfect gift for the beach lover!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Love NY & My Girlfriends!!

This picture says it all. Spent the day in NY yesterday for our annual girls' play and dinner. The weather was picture perfect for October. We sat outside for a light lunch before our play in a little corner shop. We saw "Time Stands Still" with Laura Linney and Christina Ricci. The acting was impeccable and we were all charmed by Christina Ricci's performance. We had dinner at our never-fail restaurant in the theatre district, Becco's. They do a great pre-theatre dinner, by the way, and always make sure you get to your play on time! Pre-theatre reservations go quickly, so if you decide to go, book early. After a leisurely walk on a perfect fall evening, we came upon a bar with outdoor seating. Naturally, we were not ready to go home yet, so stopped to chat some more. Turned out that the "Mercury Bar" on 9th Avenue is the official Penn State Alumni hangout in NY! We laughed, chatted and laughed some more and realize how important these traditions have become to us. In fact, last year, we added a beach gathering for our little group because it seemed like such a long time until fall. We decided last night that perhaps we can make this a monthly event??

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

California Sunshine

We just returned from a relaxing and scenic trip to California. Palm Springs was very warm and yes, it is still hot even if it is a dry heat! One of the highlights was visiting the San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. You reach the top of this summit (8,516 feet) by a large rotating gondola that traverses the steep incline. It is quite an experience and, well, the view from up there is spectacular. We happened to meet a fellow East Coaster on the tramway up who lives in the Palm Springs area and uses this mountain as part of her exercise routine. After a few days in the desert, we headed for the OCEAN. As soon as we were able, we switched our driving route to the Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy endless sea views on our journey to Santa Barbara. We stopped for lunch with friends in Malibu and drove admiring one vista after another. When we finally reached Santa Barbara we fell in love with the charm of the downtown area where we stayed. It was wonderful to walk out your door and have a great selection of shops and restaurants. The Santa Barbara harbor was picturesque and offered a few great breakfast spots overlooking the ocean. We took a day trip to the Santa Ynes wine country right outside of Santa Barbara for some wine education (hahah) and came home with an extra checked piece of luggage containing our wine purchases! We drove further up the coast to the historic landmark now owned by the State of California, the Hearst Castle. On the way back to Santa Barbara, we drove through the adorable seaside community of Cambria and had a bite to eat on the pier in Morro Bay. Sun everyday, perfect 72 degrees in Santa Barbara, much warmer inland . . . I have one question . . . is the weather always this perfect?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn Colors at the Beach!

So, autumn has arrived here in New Jersey and the leaves are beginning to turn their spectacular colors. Now is a great time to redress your dining table with some of these fabulous colors. These dark brown woven round placemats are a great starting point. Use them with the solid brown napkins sold with them, or choose a set or two of Isola Bella's hand painted linen napkins in either orange hibiscus or gold coral. An array of all three different napkins will give your fall seaside table an eclectic, yet together look. Choose a few wicker serving baskets to fill with your favorite beach finds, or a fresh loaf of bread at your next gathering. Use one of your extra napkins as a basket liner to bring some more color to your table. The natural shell napkin rings will give your table a classic beach feel. It's that easy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An Inspiration Piece!

I find when I am tackling the decorating of a new space, I always start with an inspiration piece . . . maybe a piece of artwork or a pillow. It is amazing how a room can come together from one inspirational item. In our beach house renovation, two pillows inspired my color choices for our living room area. When I found this lovely taupe linen Sanibel pillow by Tourmaline Home, I knew that accent pillow had the "feel" I was looking for in our space. The wall paint color was picked up from a throw pillow we used to carry at By the Sea . . . a perfect tranquil aqua shade. These two pillows became our renovated living room and dining space colors. In our new master bedroom, I found a pair of curtains I loved before we even started renovating. The whole room . . . paint color, linens, and accessories, all came from this pair of curtains. A guest bedroom started with a tropical piece of artwork. Everyone probably has their own way of tackling decorating or redecorating, but for me, starting small with an inspiration piece or two is easy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Home Office at the Beach

A home office at the beach can become a calm, tranquil space to get your work done. A farmhouse desk with a linen upholstered chair can bring a relaxed ambiance to your beach decor office. A simple set of antiqued bronze bookends to hold your favorite seaside editions. A practical corkboard with a seashell theme to hold your messages and keep you organized. A beach frame here and there. A faux shell lister's conch accent piece to sit on your desk. Let's not forget lighting. A chandelier done in subtle beach decor can complete the whole look. Have fun pulling this room together!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Decorative Hardware

Decorative hardware is such a simple fix to update a look. We used different hardware as much as we could during our renovation. Our louvre closet doors came with the standard round knobs, so we added some silver starfish. Some of the bedroom windows in our home have simple linen gauze curtains with decorative window tie-backs. All of our new bathroom vanities came with hardware, but, of course, I changed each one to something more beachy. Our new kitchen cabinets did not come with any preset hardware, so I was free to choose whatever I wanted. I love the way the kitchen cabinets came out . . . on the drawers we used simple nickel finish contemporary handles . . . but on the drawers . . . different sealife decorative hardware all in the same finish. This style may not be for everyone, but it suits me!

Monday, October 4, 2010


I am a big fan of accessorizing, whether it is jewelry for an outfit or another pair of shoes for my never ending collection, I do think accessorizing can pull a whole look together. In choosing accessories for your space, I think you should select items that make you feel good, not just your room. I tend to surround myself with beach decor accent pieces that make me feel like I am right on the beach. I have used quite a lot of faux shell pieces from our store (oh, what a surprise), but I think one of my favorite pieces is the large replica coral we have sitting on our new driftwood coffee table. It is rather large, but to me fits perfectly on a small table space. I added the linen wrapped votives that you can shape into whatever size your space calls for. The bedrooms all have a faux momento from the sea also. Sometimes just a little accessory here or there can give your room (and yourself) that ahhhhhh feeling.