Monday, July 30, 2012

Attention Wine Lovers! Portugese Steamed Clams

Tom and I are officially on a wine tasting DIET.  We are not allowed to go the wine country at all until we get back from Seattle in a few weeks.  I hate to confess how much wine tasting we have done in the past few weeks... 

We spent the 4th of July in Healdsburg, Calfornia.  It's a tiny California town with a  historical town square, surrounded by towering trees,  fabulous restaurants, wine tasting salons and unique art boutiques. The lush Alexander Valley borders on one side, and Dry Creek Valley stretches out on the other.  Has to be one of my favorite 4th of July memories - we even watched the fireworks at the local high school!

Our friends, Joel and Tracy came down for a few days,  and we had the best time exploring new (for us) wineries in the Dry Creek Valley. Wonderful (experienced) tour guides, Joel and Tracy  took us to all kinds of new tasting rooms and vineyards that we had never been to before.  Honestly, you could spend an entire year in the California Wine Country and never see or taste even a fraction of what is there to enjoy.

It was a gorgeous summer day, temperature hovering in the 80's, the vineyards were simply beautiful in the sunlight with their bright green leaves, vines dripping with baby green grapes.  We drove over through the valley with windows down, sunshine streaming in the sunroof while Fleetwood Mac played in the background.  

(do you get the idea that we had a good time? maybe too good??)

One of the loveliest wineries that we visited towards the end of the day was Passalacqua, on the Lambert Bridge Road.  Wide open views over the valley, and such luscious sculpted grounds with old-world fountains and blooming day lilies.

After sampling their new 2011 Sauvignon Blanc to our hearts content,  I spotted the "Wine Lover" cookbook - and knew that it had to go home with me!   It is packed with 211 pages of recipes, all containing the "Essential Ingredient" - wine.

Now which recipe to choose first?

I could not resist their spicy Portugese version of steamed clams!  We changed up a few of the ingredients, to make it ours and it turned out mouth-watering incredible. 

12 oz. chorizo sausage
1/4 cup olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 t. red pepper flakes (or to your taste)
2 cups dry white wine - use good wine
3/4 fish or chicken stock (we used chicken)
3 cups canned tomatoes with juice 
3 oz. prosciutto, juliened
1/2 cup minced parsley (I like Italian parsley)
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
35-45 tiny Manila Clams
1 1/5 lbs prawns deveined, shells removed - I keep the tails on

Cut the sausage into 1 chunks.  In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute' for 10 minutes, or until very soft.  Add the garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 more minutes.  Stir in the wine, stock and tomatoes, prosciutto, the parsley, the bay leaves and the sausage.  Simmer until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a low boil.  Add the clams and the prawns, cover the pan. Steam until the clams open and the prawns are a pretty pink, should be 7-10 minutes.  Discard any clams that do not open.

Serve with really good, fresh bread. We like to make crunchy "toasties" under the broiler  - a little butter, garlic and grated Parmesan (or whatever cheese we have in the frig!) - super easy, and looks impressive.  Perfect for dipping into your spicy seafood broth.

Must have?  A great white wine to go with!  We stumbled uponSeghesio in Healdsburg, and fell in love with their 2011 Arneis.   Have never had anything quite like it.  Perfect combination with our spicy Portuguese Clams and Prawns!

Oh... couldn't help it, we joined the Seghesio wine club, now we have an excuse to go back.  Darn.

*originally published on The Coastal Gourmet Blog

Glasses:  Our Stemless School of Fish Red Wine Tumblers - Set of 4 $44.95

Dinnerware: Beachcomber Collection - love these for their colors and shapes!  Bowls - set of 4 $56.95

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cannon Beach Boutique Shopping

We spent a few hours yesterday walking around Cannon Beach Oregon's cute shopping district.  Lots of t-shirts, gallery art, salt water taffy, ice cream and yummy treats at the Cannon Beach Bakery (more on this subject later!)  - not to mention highly entertaining people watching..

I am always on the hunt for "coastal decorating" boutiques. NOT boutiques full of plastic pirates, weird looking mermaids,  bags of shells from the Philippines, and a few beach towels.  Hate those.  So disappointing to find just another beach souvenir shop, packed full of "stuff" that you would never, ever put in your house.

Tucked a few steps back off of the main street at the end of a flagstone courtyard, surrounded by overflowing  blooming Pacific Northwest flowers, we discovered an inviting gem in Cannon Beach.  M. Smith Interiors

Chocked full of lovely Michael Aram treasures (some of my favorite coastal tabletop pieces!), soft hand knit cozy throws for stormy Oregon Coast weather, pretty blue and white ginger jars, and handcrafted local "driftwood" furniture pieces,  this store did a fabulous job of display and creating an elegant beach house atmosphere.  Surprisingly affordable beautiful home decor and tabletop in a "tourist" town.

I am surmising that this interior design studio really is trying to attract local home and second home owners on this stretch of the Oregon Coast, in addition to the throngs of seaside customers that flock to Cannon Beach.

Just have to show you all one of my favorite vignette corners in the boutique!  Love the combination of the neutral toned framed seashell art, white beaded coral pillows, coupled with the splash of nautical in the rope detailed cloche.  Especially admired the weathered-look buffet dressed up with mirrored doors, and the worn soft inviting leather wing back chairs.  Can't you just imagine curling up here with a good mystery novel on a tempestuous ocean night? (now to find some good Oregon Pinot Noir...)

Close up shot of the top of the buffet, with a simple mirrored tray and the roped cloche covering up a chunk of coral.  I might have used a big local shell under the glass instead of the coral to keep it more in line with the Oregon Coast.  What do you think?  

Have a great Sunday - we are off for more adventures in the Northwest all week!

M. Smith Interiors
219 North Hemlock
Cannon Beach, OR 97110
Phone: 503-436-1908

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ah Ha! Another idea for Driftwood

Hi everyone! Just popping in for a minute, but had to show you these creative driftwood benches that we spotted yesterday in Pescadero at one of my favorite shopping haunts, Luna Sea.  This tiny shop housed in a vintage cottage on the main street in town, Sea is stocked full of interesting creative pieces from local artists in Northern California; paintings, hand blown glass, yard art and so much more!

I can't find a website for them - so sorry!  Here's a link to shopping in Pescadero that might be helpful though -

 Trying to guess what the numbered board in the middle must have been. Any ideas?  
Like the old buoy accent on the side too! 
Same artist, with the twist of using an distressed painted red shutter and accenting the bench with big abalone shells, and a red and white buoy.

So wish I had a place for one of these!  Would pile them with coastal outdoor pillows, sit my hot chocolate mug on the driftwood arms, and enjoy a summer sunset while cuddling up with someone I love.

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Driftwood and Rope Bouquets

A few weeks ago, Tom and I spent a wonderful early summer, sunny afternoon climbing around the rocks at Pescadero Beach.  I managed to bring home another bag of interesting driftwood pieces. (you don't want to see my trunk...)  Tom even convinced me to throw in some washed up pieces of twisted turquoise rope that we found stuck in the rock crevices.
Originally, I had some crazy idea that I would make a driftwood mirror for our bedroom.  Changed my mind quickly upon realization that maybe, just maybe, I was a little over-ambitious.  Who knows where my glue gun is?  Or how in the world do I find the time?  Or the space to make that happen?
Came up with these "bouquets" instead!

Set of inexpensive clear cylinder vases from Ikea and voila'!

What do you think?  I can still make the mirror later this summer or next fall, but in the meantime I can enjoy the natural shapes of the driftwood, and remember the great time that we had at the beach that day gathering up everything.  Tom convinced me to the rope home, so glad that I did - it matched everything else in our house, and it was such a creative way to recycle beach "garbage".  

Thank you to Tricia Rose of Cabin on the Water for the fabulous nautical "W" linen pillows on my couch.  Thank you so much for entertaining Allison and I at your welcoming beach cottage on a very rainy afternoon. Especially want to thank you for your encouragement and friendship!  

The other pillows can be found at our store - I could not resist them!

Have a great Thursday!  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Coral, Not Really....

Sometimes "Coastal" Style is just about that one special piece, not an entire collection.   Can you just imagine this simple, organic sea-shaped white coral displayed all by itself on a fabulous antique credenza, or imagine it as part of a creative shore table scape,  dressing up a rustic driftwood-like buffet, or hiding in a nook on a towering bookcase?  The possibilities are endless for elegant beach style, for bringing in memories of the of the sea, warm sand and wild waves...  There's nothing quite like adding a touch of the natural sea and shore to complete a coastal home.

The best part?  This piece is not real coral, only finely crafted with tiny attention to detail to make it appear like an incredible beach find, allowing one more piece of precious coral to actually stay in the ocean.

Here are a few more examples for pretty artificial coral!  Tried to find a few pieces for you in several colors, to complement any seaside room.

From Z-Gallerie - comes in Turquoise, Red and White too!

Fun!  Red Coral Mirror from Clay Gray Home

Found at Studio Home

Mushroom Coral Pieces from Caron's Beach House

Red Octopus Coral Branch - comes in light blue and white too.

Remember, if you truly are an ocean lover, real coral is a BIG NO-NO.  It is possible to find unique, exquisite coral-like pieces for decorating your beach house. We need to respect our planet and leave the real coral where it belongs, on the reef. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fish and Ships Coastal Art

So excited to introduce Andrew Ruffhead to our Everything Coastal readers!   I was simply drawn to Andrew's art, not sure if it's because I am from the Pacific Northwest, where our weather is so similar to North Norfolk, England - or it's his use of bright colors mixed with driftwood and "old marsh boats".   I think you will like Sarah Ruffhead's story too!

`Fish and Ships Coastal Art`, is a small Studio/Gallery in the pretty village of Burnham Market, a pebbles' throw from the coast in North Norfolk, England, owned by Artist-Designer Andrew Ruffhead.  He produces and sells a diverse range of bright and witty coastal artworks; prints, coastal maps, cards, cyanotype photography, pen, ink and gouache drawings, and driftwood art. His lobsters, crabs, whales, prawns and fish are made from driftwood and pieces of old marsh-found boats and beach-found ephemera,  as he is particularly interested in recycling found objects. He has a large selection of work available to purchase in the gallery, as well as working to commission, and he ships worldwide. 

" My work has been a hit with seaside fans all over the globe, and my fish have swam as far as Greece, Australia and Cape Cod. They do work well for those with a coastal abode, but look fun in any house with a coastal theme."

People love visiting the Studio as it is quirky and unique in that it only sells work by Andrew, and also he is `at work` too, drawing and painting at his desk, so customers can chat to him about his ideas and techniques, and he gets great feedback and inspiration from this as well.It is this interaction with the public that he particularly enjoys about his work as a full-time Artist, compared with his former years in London.

 Andrew studied Painting and Printmaking at Brighton Polytechnic, and then Printed Textile Design at the Central School of Art and Design. He has worked for many years as a textile designer producing fashion, furnishing fabrics and wallpapers for companies such as Osborne and Little, Designers Guild and Calvin Klein.

He has taught at Chelsea School of Art, Worthing, Loughborough College of Art and Design, and was Head of the Printed Textile Department at the University of East London for fifteen years until 2005. He has worked for the National Institute for Design in Ahmedabad (India) NIFT ( National Institute of Fashion Technology) based in New Delhi, and The National Institute for Design ( NID) in Ahmedabad.

Andrew is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers, and a former chair of the Fashion Textile Discipline Group. He continues to exhibit his work in many galleries in the UK, and in 2006 he was made a National Lottery Artist, and was commissioned to produce a large lino-print, which is on display in the foyer of the Cromer Museum in Norfolk. He had one of his cyanotype prints,`Cactus Corner` on show at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in June-August 2011. 

He relocated to North Norfolk six years ago and simply adores living near the sea, with its vast sands and big blue skies-walking, collecting shells, and beachcombing each day with his wife Sarah and Harry the Lurcher.  "I love the feeling of living `on the edge` that being here gives you, and I love finding the treasure trove that the tides throw onto the beach and marsh, such as wonderful worn pieces of old boats in lovely faded colours." 

The Fish and Ships Studio is at Andrew and Sarah`s home, so it`s a quick stroll across the decking to work, "You will see from the sittingroom pic below, that we are shell mad! I work quite seasonally. When it`s warm and sunny, I make fish and large artworks outside, and when it`s cold and windy, I am in the Studio drawing"

Andrew is keen on recycling and loves winkling out seaside treasures such as shells, rope, wood and pieces of old boats found on the beach and the marsh, which can be fashioned into fun pieces of coastal art. He recently found a 95 year old musselling boat called boat called `Washout` which was rotting in the mud at Brancaster Staithe, and the fishermen kindly said he could have it if he could haul it out of the mud. He has since been making lots of stunning fish from the weather-worn wood and copper and brass rivets. So it was an exciting find, and an interesting tale to tell too.

 "I think my favourite pieces are the large wooden fish as each one is unique, every piece of wood tells a story, and each fish has a character of its own!"

"Living near the sea we have a good range of seafood available fresh each day, and our area is famous for its crabs -particularly `Cromer Crab` from a few miles down the coast, and lobster which are caught off The Wash. Consequently any images of these are always popular with locals and holidaymakers alike, and I make and paint large crabs and lobsters and frame them in white clapboard frames."

We also love eating mussels which are found at Brancaster a few miles from our house, and I was inspired to so a set of fun drawings of seafood which I have had made into A4 sized prints, which look great as a set and can be easily posted as I sell them unframed.

"I never stop drawing and always have my sketchbook with me wherever I go, as it is a valuable source of ideas for me.Often things that happen by accident are a great startng point for an exciting piece of work. So just draw draw draw!"

"My boxes with painted wooden Sardines in are very popular, and in have made quite a few in different sizes, I think it`s because they look fun, and of course blue and white always works well in any coastal theme looking clean and fresh.We love eating sardines-particularly cooked on olive wood on the beach in Spain where we have a holiday home too Delicious!"

"I have just started making these framed maps-I have been buyng vintage coastal maps--just bought some American ones too!!!  I re-colour them and frame them in pieces of old boats , so they look quite quirky and of course very individual.  I can make these to order so they can incorporate a specific, favourite part of the coast for customers."

Andrew sells work not only through his Gallery , but from his website as well.

Fish and Ships Coastal Art also has Facebook page:  

You can also follow his wife Sarah Ruffhead on Pinterest.

Fish and Ships Coastal Art, 19, Ulph Place, Burnham Market, Norfolk, England. PE31 8HQ.
Tel: 00441328738621

Thanks to Sarah Ruffhead for her generous guest blog post!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Early Morning Beach Walks

Some Sunday Mornings are just too beautiful to not share.....

Again, have to pinch myself that I am soooo lucky to live close to Half Moon Bay.  Just a 20 minute drive in our new mini cooper over the coastal mountain range and we are walking on the beach.  Tom and I love to grab a granola bar, pour coffee into our travel mugs and head out for a walk.

Captured this on my iphone last weekend, when we drove down to take the product photos of our new hand blown glass sea urchins that will soon be on our site.

Take a beach break and enjoy the waves!

(yes, that is the Ritz Carlton in the background)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Red, White and Blue - 4th of July Party Cocktails!

Just can't help myself - love summer cocktails and just had to show off a few that I want to try for this weekend.   Thought I would share a few ideas that I am contemplating to serve our weekend guests from Portland!

Pop Rock Cocktails (hilarious!)

Just add red, white or blue "Pop Rocks" to the rim of your summer cocktails to give them that extra little sizzle and pop!

Pop Rocks on the Beach

1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Midori melon liqueur
1/2 oz Chambord raspberry liqueur
3 splashes Pineapple juice
This one might be the winner for me - now to just find the Pop Rocks....

 Or how about this pretty fresh fruit con-concoction from PrettyPlain Janes

Dang, she knows how to make some beautiful cocktails - wouldn't you love to be invited to her house???

  • *1 cup simple syrup (1 part sugar plus *1 part water, boiled until dissolved and cooled)
  • *1/2 cup fresh strawberries (sliced in half)
  • *1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • *1 bottle dry white wine
  •     club soda or tonic water
  • *ice
  • *few sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
  1. Fill Pitcher with ice and top with berries (save some to place in glasses).
  2. Pour in simple syrup and then wine until pitcher is 3/4 full.
  3. Top off with club soda or tonic water, stir and serve in ice filled glasses. Garnish with mint sprig.

This pretty cocktail recipe was sent to me from Designs by Lolita (LOVE their creative martini and wine glasses!)

Blueberry Martini
1.25 fl oz SMIRNOFF® Blueberry Flavored Vodka
.25 fl oz orange liqueur
.5 fl oz Lemon-Lime Soda
1. Stir and strain to lose bubbles, and serve in a martini glass.
2. Garnish with a lemon twist and blueberries.

And from Sunset Magazine - I just love how they used star fruit to make the cute skewers!
Raspberry Lemonade (non alcholic)

  • 1 cup rinsed fresh raspberries 
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • In a small bowl, with a potato masher or spoon, mash 1 cup rinsed fresh raspberries, with 2/3 cup sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Press through a fine strainer into a pitcher (at least 1 1/2 qt.); discard seeds. Stir in 1 cup lemon juice and 2 cups water. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Pour into tall, ice-filled glasses.
P.S.  Don't forget to use pretty glassware!

Try a set of Lighthouses for the perfect Patriotic Celebration!

Can't go wrong with a set of Anchors! 

Wishing everyone a fabulous 4th of July!  For more 4th of July party ideas - check out my "America the Beautiful" board on Pinterest.

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