Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thanks Santa!  You deserve a break after all that hard work last night! 

I hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The ultimate natural decoration for me . . .

So . . .  I love tropical things, natural decorations, lemons, and wreaths . . .

This pretty much covers it all!  Next year, I'm making one like this for sure!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Legend of the Sand Dollar

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about decorating my Christmas tree with sand dollars.  Whenever I would go to the beach in Florida, I would consider myself lucky if I found a sand dollar.

One of the most unusual specimens of marine life; the markings on the shell symbolize the Birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. 

On the top side of the shell, in the very center, is a five-pointed star, representing the Star of Bethlehem.  Surrounding the Star is the Easter lily.

On the reverse side of the shell, you will recognize the outline of the Christmas Poinsettia and also the Bell.  When broken, inside the shell are five little birds called the Doves of Peace.  Some say they are the Angels that sang to the Shepherds the First Christmas Morning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Central Virginia Botanical Artists' blog

I occasionally post on other blogs.  Today I have a post on the Central Virginia Botanical Artists' blog about Mark Catesby: artist, naturalist, and explorer of the southeast coast during colonial times.  A show of his work is on display at Wilton House Museum here in Richmond.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Natural Christmas - decorating with shells

Many years ago when I was single and lived near the beach, I decided to go "simple and natural" with my holiday decorations and used shells to trim my Christmas tree.  Wow - what a wonderful look!  I looped red velvet ribbon through sand dollars and hung them as ornaments.  Many of the clam and scallop shells I found on the beach already had small holes in them, so I slipped hooks through each shell and used them in place of balls.  White shells against a green tree with a pop of red looked so festive in December.

After having children, I used lots of shiny balls and tinsel, but we made it a tradition to buy one beach-themed ornament each year on vacation to add to our tree.  Now that the girls are older, I'm thinking of incorporating shells and other "found" natural decorations again.  I've been looking through Pinterest for ideas on how to use shells, rope, greens and pinecones for garlands, wreaths and ornaments.  I'd like to do a small tree like this one!
And I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't mention the decorations in Williamsburg, Virginia.  They are the masters at using natural objects to make the most beautiful decorations.  My daughter recently sent me this photo she took of a wreath on a door in Colonial Williamsburg.  I'm glad to know my love of nature is rubbing off on another generation. 
Happy Decorating!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beach products I love . . .

While vacationing in Duck NC, our beach house was decorated with charming prints by artist Sandy Gingras.  Her effortless line drawings and happy bright colors are perfect for decorating a coastal home or any room that needs a little reminder of the beach. 
 Her whimsical artwork can be found at:  http://how-to-live.com/index.html

One of my favorite posters is "How to Live on an Island"
Dance on edge . . . stretch . . . listen in on shells . . . put living things back . . . cultivate quiet . . . boogie. . . practice simplicity . . . sugar yourself with sand . . . float . . .  carry a bucket . . . ride rusty bikes . . .go with the wind . . . walk tender . . . tune up your senses . . . build castles . . .and leave them for the moon to find . . .run with waves . . . discover treasure . . . remember yourself . . . keep off the rocks . . . ebb and flow . . . laugh like a gull . . . thank your lucky stars! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - where I add some of my favorite pictures from my Pinterest boards.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reflections on hurricanes and other storms in life

Just as all our days can't be sunny, so too with beaches.  This past week has made me reflect on the awesome power of nature where the ocean meets the shore.   The satellite photos of sailboats tossed upon the shore like toys remind me that sometimes wind, water, waves or other events in our lives are not for us to control. 

My heartfelt prayers go out to those who live along the northeast coast as they pick up the pieces of their lives and hopefully find sunny days and calm waters again.

This Sunday I offer up a navy version of the 23rd Psalm, called "The Sailor's Psalm"

"The Lord is my pilot, I shall not go adrift; He lighteth my passage across dark channels; He steereth me through the deep waters, He keepeth my log. He guideth me by the evening star for my safety's sake. Yea, though I sail mid the thunders and tempest of life, I shall fear no peril for Thou art with me. The vastness of thy sea upholds me. Surely fair winds and safe harbors shall be found all the days of my life; And I shall moor, fast, and secure, forever Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fashion Friday - Nothing says the beach like Lilly!

Today was sunny and warm – a perfect fall day here on the East Coast.  While out shopping, I happened upon a small “vintage” boutique near our local university (the very arty VCU) and found a $14 Lilly Pulitzer skirt.   Score!   It’s even in the classic Lilly pink and lime green.   

For me, nothing says “resort” quite like Lilly, especially when it is bright pink and green.   I love her wild patterns, floral prints and happy colors – they’re quite fun and never take themselves too seriously. 

I’m not sure how accurate the story is about how she founded her clothing line, but according to Wiki it goes something like this . . .” In the course of working at the juice stand, Lilly found that squeezing juice made a mess of her clothes. Seeking to camouflage the juice stains, she designed a sleeveless shift made of bright, colorful printed cotton. Lilly found that customers loved her dress, so she produced more in order to sell them at her juice stand. Eventually, she was selling more dresses than juice, and decided to focus on designing and selling what had become known as her "Lillys".

I love old classic Lillys and new patterns too, like this one with dragonflies.   Sometimes I think about what I would design if I had the chance . . . water lilies, flamingos, conch shells, orchids, or crescent moons . . . the list is endless.   


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I will be doing a "Wordless Wednesday" for the fall and re-pinning some of my favorite pins from Pinterest.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fashion Friday - Sunglasses!

With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and 60.
- Jack Nicholson

No trip to the beach is complete without the perfect pair of sunglasses.   Even Jack Nicholson knows that sunglasses are far more than just protection for the eyes.  Sunglasses show your style; they can instantly add the cool factor or make you look glamorous.  
For years I preferred the classic Ray-Ban Aviators because my dad, who was a pilot, wore them.   I can’t fly a plane to save my life, but I loved channeling the “Top Gun” dare-devil look. 
I was never able to pull-off the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, but it remains a popular look; thanks in part to Jake and Elwood a/k/a  “The Blues Brothers”.  

I could never “rock” the Jackie O look either, but I understand the appeal of an oversized pair of shades.  No make-up is necessary; just don a big pair of designer (or knock-off) sunglasses and you’re good to go.

Lately, I’ve been purchasing cheap sunglasses from a kiosk in the Mall; too many of my good sunglasses have been dropped, scratched, bent, and even run over with my car.  My latest favorites are a pair of Tory Burch look-alikes -- great shape; tortoise frames.   As soon as I put them on, I get an extra spring in my step.  With a great pair of “shades” I am ready to hit the beach and feel warm sunshine on my face and in my eyes.   

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ahhh . . . another week ended.  I love lazy Saturdays and Sundays.  I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful fall weather, wherever you are. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fantasy Beach Trip

Well, it's another rainy day in Richmond, so today is Fantasy Beach Trip Day!  Yes, today I'll plan a trip to a beach that I've never visited.  First stop, Hawaii . . .
My first few days will be spent lounging in a hammock by the ocean,
while I sip exotic drinks with names like "Blue Hawaii".
When I'm good and rested, I'll visit the "Big Island" and tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  I will tour the Kilauea Volcano and see where the lava flows dramatically into the sea.
I will also visit a Coffee Plantation and enjoy fresh roasted Kona coffee!  Then I'll visit the island of Maui and maybe even stay at the Marriott Maui, where they have a waterfall in their swimming pool.
If I'm lucky, I'll be there during the Lantern Festival!  (Looks a bit like the movie Tangled  :)
I'll visit the top beaches on different islands, like Kauai . . .
Maybe someday . . .

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Favorite Beaches . . .

It's a grey, rainy day here in Virginia, so I've been thinking about my favorite beaches!   I used to live in Florida, so some of my favorite beaches are in "the sunshine state".  If I could be anywhere else today, I would pick Sanibel Island, right off the coast of Ft. Myers in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sanibel has many features that I love about Florida -- white sand, aqua water, colorful flowers and palm trees, bright blue skies, bike paths, and, most important, warm sunshine!

Someday, I hope to visit more beaches in the US and even make it to Hawaii.  What about you?  What are your favorite beaches?  Where do you dream of going?    

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I don't usually pass along news stories, but the idea of a message in a bottle fascinates me.  I'd love to find one, or perhaps set one adrift myself.

"A Scottish fisherman has set a Guinness World Record by recovering the oldest-known message in a bottle, besting the previous record by more than five years.
Sailing the vessel “Copious,” skipper Andrew Leaper, 43, discovered the bottle floating east of the Shetland Islands off the northern coast of Scotland. It was set adrift more than 98 years ago in June 1914 by Capt. CH Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation, the BBC reported.
Guinness World Records has confirmed that the bottle is, in fact, the oldest ever recovered.
Yet those hoping for a dramatic message from a desperate seafarer or marooned sailor will likely be disappointed with the near century-old message.
“Please state where and when this card was found, and then put it in the nearest Post Office,” the message reads. “You will be informed in reply where and when it was set adrift. Our object is to find out the direction of the deep currents of the North Sea.”
According to the BBC, the bottle was one of 1,890 research bottles that were designed to sink in order to map the ocean currents surrounding Scotland. Thus far, only 315 of them have been returned.
Coincidentally, the bottle that held the previous world record was found by a friend of Leaper’s who was sailing the exact same ship.
“It was an amazing coincidence that the same Shetland fishing boat that found the previous record-breaking bottle six years ago also found this one. It’s like winning the lottery twice,” said Leaper in a statement posted on the Scottish Government website.
Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead lauded the find in the same statement.
“It’s amazing that nearly 98 years on, bottles are still being returned to the Marine Laboratory – and in such fantastic condition,” he said.
Aside from requesting the finder record the details of the discovery, the postcard inside the bottle also promises a reward of sixpence. Unfortunately for Leaper, that particular coin no longer exists."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

Labor Day always marks the end of summer for me . . . (yes, I know the official end of summer comes on Sept. 21 with the Autumn Equinox) but for me Labor Day is the end of summer.  When I was growing up in Ohio we always started school the Tuesday after Labor Day, and it is the same here in Virginia.  It's a bittersweet moment . . . knowing that the alarm clocks will go off early tomorrow and the bustle of the school year will begin.  Our lazy, hazy days will recede into memory. 

For this blog, it will become more difficult to keep that beach feeling with me as Autumn rolls around.  I will just have to take some time out of my day to play some Jimmy Buffett, pour a Margarita, and pretend there is sand between my toes.

Friday, August 31, 2012

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

 - Quote from Neil Armstrong's family

I have always loved seeing the moon over the ocean and we've seen some spectacular moon rises over Virginia Beach.  I'll never forget that night in July when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.  As a kid, I found it amazing, awesome and inspiring - thanks Neil - you made me reach for the stars!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Beach Music

I picture something,
 it's beautiful
It's full of life, and it is all blue
I've seen the sunset on the beach,
It makes me feel calm
When I'm calm, I feel good
Lyrics from "The Freedom Song" by Jason Mraz
I was lucky enough to be in Raleigh NC the other night for the Jason Mraz concert.  It was at an outdoor pavillion on a sultry southern night - just perfect for listening to the breezy, happy music of Mr. Jason Mraz (Mr. A-Z himself!)  His music makes me think of balmy days at the beach, sitting on a terrace and drinking a margarita. 
The video of this song has beautiful beach images.  Listen and enjoy!   
From the Love is a Four Letter Word CD

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Taste of the Beach . . . Key Lime Pie

If I had to pick the number one menu item that reminds me of the beach, I would choose Key Lime Pie.  Whenever we go on vacation I always order Key Lime Pie at each restaurant, so I can compare different versions of this favorite coastal dessert.  (In fact, there was a time when I listed eating Key Lime Pie as one of my hobbies.) 

My favorite version is the classic original recipe that I ate many years ago when I was in Key West with Mom.  I jotted the recipe down on the back of the postcard I was carrying - as you can see, I've made this version many times.

The classic version uses a meringue topping instead of whipped cream.  And it goes without saying that a real Key Lime Pie is never green!

And here's the front of the post card - what a great little pen & ink drawing with a colorful watercolor wash.  Just looking at it makes me want to go back to Key West! 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bringing the beach home with me - part 2

Well, I came home from the local garden center with a few pots and plants to make my own little beach landscape on my deck.  When I look out my kitchen window, I can pretend I'm at the coast!  

                                                          (see the stripes?)

I chose bright blue pots, called Sapphire Blue, to represent the ocean and placed them next to my colorful Impatiens.  The taller plant is Fountain Grass (pennisetum alopecuroides "Cassian") which looks like the sea oats that grow easily at Virginia Beach.  I can eventually plant it in the garden and it will grow 3 feet tall!  The smaller plant is Dwarf Zebra Grass (Miscanthus s. "Little Zebra").  I liked it because it looked like the varigated plants growing at Virginia Beach along the Boardwalk.  Obviously, both plants like full sun! 

Now if I could just get the smell of the ocean breeze to waft across my deck . . .  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bringing the Beach Home with Me

I am lucky to live only two hours from the beach and every time I drive home after vacation I'm so relaxed and content that I wonder how I can bring a little bit of the beach back with me.  In "My Beach Life" I will look at all the ways to bring that beach feeling home.

First up:  Beach Landscaping
Sea oats, fountain grass and varigated switch grass look stunning by the water.  Can I achieve the same effect at home?  How about flowers?  What grows best by the beach?  Hibiscus for sure; but also zinnias, asters, and marigolds.  What other elements might suggest a house at the beach?

A trip to my local garden center is in order.  I'll let you know how it goes!