Monday, April 29, 2013

Surya Spring Rug Sale - Limited Time Only

Creating a fabulous outdoor living space can start with a fabulous rug!

I am proud to say that we have worked diligently to curate an entire collection of indoor-outdoor coastal rugs for our customers - all durable, all easy to care for, and long-lasting.

And for a short time remaining - we have a small collection from Surya on sale! Save 10% through midnight April 30.  No need for a coupon, just click on this link: Special Spring Sale to preview the nearly 30 different styles, all different colors and motifs, plus all available in several different sizes and shapes.

Have fun planning an escape right in your very own back yard!



Tropical Palms Too!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Note from Boston

I have tried many times to write some kind of blog post about how the Boston Marathon tragedy effected me last week, and I just have not been able to.  How can you put into words the complicated emotions and utter heart break for the families and the victims of this senseless act?

Last week, as we sat in the airport waiting for our flight back home after
our trip to Washington D.C. to see Tom's daughter and to experience the beauty of the Cherry Blossom festival, we heard the horrific news.  I was glued to the television by our gate to see what had happened before our eyes on the streets of Boston.  A day that is usually filled with fun and celebration...

I think I cried all the way home on the plane.

Then this weekend,  I received an unexpected note from one of our customers.

"Dear Caron,

I received the new bowl today.  I love it!  You would not have known, but I was on the finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday here in my home town, and was badly injured in the second explosion.  I had surgery in the ER, and am now on the mend.  The bowl brought me some colorful joy!

Thanks, and I hope to do more business with you in the future.


Once again, I was reminded at how connected we all are.  So humbled that he thought to reach out to me for such a simple thing...

I wasn't sure what to expect in Washington D.C., but I can tell you this; it was an amazing, and at times an emotional journey. Everything we did, and everything we experienced while we toured the city, the monuments and explored the museums, made me so proud to be an American.  In spite of all of our differences, (and there are a lot of those!) we are all part of such a grand, successful experiment.  Just look at how we've all come together to help the city of Boston... incredible.

We've (Tom and I) donated to, in hopes that our small donation can help the families so deeply affected by the tragic Boston Marathon event.  It's just a drop in the bucket, but I hope that it can help with all of the unexpected medical expenses for the injured. 

This is the bowl that our customer Tom ordered....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day! Meet the Artisans behind Living Simplistically

We started with working with Josh and Rhonda about a year ago, and are simply crazy about their natural, creative approach to coastal home decor.    I thought it might be fun to get a little more in-depth with them about their art and their philosophy.  Enjoy our interview!  

1.  How were you inspired to create your company, Living Simplistically?  
Rhonda: Josh & I were friends before we started Living Simplistically, I knew he created gorgeous functional art pieces made from driftwood and once I saw them, I knew his work was too fabulous not to share with other. That’s when I offered to design and build his website.

Josh: I’ve always been most inspired in life by my time spent outdoors while exploring nature and Living Simplistically was created with this in mind. It was important to me to try to design furniture, along with some home d├ęcor items that were not only one of a kind pieces of functional art but more importantly, were designs that allowed me capture the simple beauty that I saw in nature and to be able to bring that beauty into a living space. 

Living Simplistically Driftwood Lamp
2.  How did you start Living Simplistically?  
J: It was a time when I was going through some life changes and I came to the conclusion that what I needed was to simplify my life and so I moved onto a small property nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains where I was surrounded by nature. At the time I didn’t have much furniture so I decided to make my own out of natural materials that were reclaimed from friends, local ranches and the beach. When my friend Rhonda saw a couple pieces that I had finished, she told me that I could probably sell them if I wanted to. And so she really inspired my confidence and pushed me to start Living Simplistically.

R: Sharing the same eco practices and concerns as Josh, while being an artist myself, we decided to form a partnership and combine our talents together to form Living Simplistically. Our hopes are to inspire others to rethink how they decorate their home. You can have beautiful and modern pieces made from nature and/or recycled material in your house and still be kind to the environment.
3.  Why does “Living Simplistically” mean to you?  
R & J: Living Simplistically means exactly what our brand says. To live simple. Living in an age where most people feel the more they have the better they’ll feel. We believe if you cut out all the excess clutter and simplify, you can enjoy nature while preserving the future of our planet and still be fulfilled.

4. What do you feel is your biggest influence on your own design ideas?  
R: I live in the same Southern California beach community that I was born in, so my biggest influence has been the beach, ocean, surfing or anything maritime. {Which is kind of funny because I have a huge phobia of deep water and cruise ships.} Right now all of our pillow collections have some sort of ocean influence in their design. 

J. By far, the biggest influence on all of my designs is what I find in nature. Whether it is down at the beach or up the mountains, it’s the beauty of the natural colors, the lighting, the shapes, and the sounds that I find guidance in.

5. Do you have a design or artist's mentor, someone that has inspired you to push your boundaries?  If you do, who is/was it and why?  
R: There are so many great designers and artisans out there that I don’t have any one in particular that inspires me. Now that artists, designers and bloggers are documenting their talents and artwork through pictures with apps such as Instagram, Pinterest and Vine, it broadens our access to such great talent not just locally, but from all over the world. Keeping up on that raises the bar for me to push my boundaries as an artist. I appreciate great design and when I see it, I try to soak it all in.

J. See number 4.
6. What do think is your true "uniqueness" with your products?  What sets you apart from other home decor companies?  
R: The true uniqueness with our products such as our pillow collections are the illustrations and the process to create the handmade product. Or the time and craftsmanship that goes into every driftwood piece that leaves our studios. Every step of the creating process is done by Josh or I. While having a gorgeous finished product, at the same time we feel that imperfection is perfection whether it be our driftwood or our pillow products.

I think what sets us apart is our size, I always say “we are small, but mighty”. We know how hard it is to compete with the nationally recognized stores who mass produce, but that’s why we work so hard to have unique quality designs that will stand out from the big box retailers. We sell to customers who are looking for something unique to display in their homes, who appreciate the artisan’s work, while caring about the future of our environment. We love that online retailers like Caron’s Beach House support our work and mission.

J: For me, because we’re a small company and I build everything myself, I enjoy the relationship that’s sometimes developed between myself and our customers. I put a great deal of my heart and soul into each and every custom piece that I create and I think that there’s something very special in that.

7. Do you have any favorite eco-green charities that you like to support?   
R & J: Blood Water Mission. I recently finished a “40-days of Water” challenge to raise money for wells to be built and bring clean water to small villages in Uganda. The challenge was to replace any drinks that you would normally drink with water and tally the amount of money you would have spent on those drinks and donate it instead. Without being a soda or fancy coffee drinker I was able to raise $192 and drank over 32 gallons of water during the challenge. Living Simplistically matched the donation. 

8. Does your company participate in any fun green activities in your community?  
 Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Trails
 R & J: Yes, we like to give back to our communities and help whenever possible and are active volunteers with our local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. The two most recent volunteer activities were the Surfrider Foundation’s “Hold on to Your Butt” campaign where joined with other locals to comb Huntington to pick up cigarette butts that litter our beaches. It is estimated that several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year and are so damaging to our ecosystem. Surfrider has recently been installing canisters throughout downtown Huntington to help eliminate this problem.

The second volunteer activity was January 19th on The National Day of Service at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve to do a trash cleanup. I run these trails 3 to 4 times a week and it’s sad to see the slow build-up of trash, especially floating in the levy. This water flows directly into our oceans.

9. What are you, Josh and Rhonda most proud of? 

R & J: We’re most proud of the fact that we are able to keep everything we make sourced locally and in the USA. It’s easy to get products mass produced overseas by large manufacturers, but we pride ourselves on finding resources, whether natural or manmade, from other small businesses in our own backyards. This helps to generate more local economic activity for our communities so it’s a win win for everybody.

10. Describe your perfect day at the beach…. (surfing, beachcombing, reading, etc.)
R: I’m at the beach 4 to 5 times a week so a typical day at the beach for me is grabbing my 2 boxers and heading down to dog beach. They have soooo much energy that I like to run them a couple miles along the water before I let them off their leashes to play. That’s typically when I spot a unique shell or object that has been washed ashore. While they’re playing, I like to sift through the warm sand and look for nerdles.

J: I like to collect shells.

11. If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?  

R: Costa Rica! I’ve never been, but I just know it’s a place that I could spend the rest of my life there. {and often daydream about doing so}. Their way of life is so much more relaxed and slower paced than ours here in the states. Not to mention everywhere you look is gorgeous. There motto is “Pura Vida”, a phrase that characterizes their culture……Pure Life! Who wouldn’t want that?

(Living Simplistically's City Pillows are Fabulous! Key West)
J: I was surfing since I was about 6 years old and I just love the ocean. I’ve traveled to some pretty amazing beaches around the world but there are too many places that I’ve yet to see to know where I’d like to live. However, my ideal place would have to be uncrowded, a tropical climate, a good right point break, good fishing, plenty of fresh fruit, no mosquitoes, and no poisonous snakes.
12. What would you like to try next?  

R & J: More collaboration between Josh and I and our products, where we combine our burlap with his woodworking to create another unique product customers would display proudly in their homes.

It will be a pleasure to continue working with Living Simplistically as they come up with new ideas and new products. 

Thanks again for stopping by!

(P.S. You can find Living Simplistically products on our site - simply use the search bar with the key words - "Living Simplistically")

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Birthday Wishes from the Beach

So.... today is my birthday.  Unlike most other years, this one has been a little tough, as I am rapidly approaching the big five-zero.  I was actually was okay with just ignoring the whole thing until I woke up this morning to a flood of birthday wishes on my personal Facebook page, along with texts and phone calls from my family.

Wow - what an outpouring of love.  I feel so so so lucky.
This pretty cake was sent to me by another San Francisco beach girl - isn't it heavenly??

Have been saving up these sea-inspired cakes for just an occasion like this  - wish only that we could be sharing some of these yummy creations together! 

All sources can be found on my Pinterest page  - The Coastal Gourmet

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Green" Coastal Living Decor Fabulousness!

Not sure if "fabulousness" is a real word, but this company represents it well!  Enjoy our interview.

Laura's Office at Eco Accents
1.  How were you inspired to create your company, Ecoaccents?   My inspiration really started with my love for the outdoors and particularly with time spent on the coast and in the Florida Keys.  I developed a fascination with sea life and marine creatures that shows in many of our designs.  I am drawn to the look and feel of minimally processed fibers like burlap and natural cotton.

2.  How did you start Ecoaccents?   Ecoaccents started when I took the leap from making pillows for my own use to creating "green" pillows and bags using my artwork and bringing those products to consumers.  

We launched Ecoaccents in January 2011. 
Where are you? 
 Ecoaccents is located in Raleigh NC - right between the NC mountains and our beautiful shore
3.  Why create "green" products?  
Given the choice, I believe many consumers would prefer to purchase well designed and well priced green products over comparable traditionally manufactured products.  Every green step makes a difference.
All natural cotton canvas pillows printed with environmentally -friendly ink, inserts are all made from recycled plastic
4. We love your bright, clean colors and design - why do you think you are drawn to create in "technicolor"? 
 One of my favorite design approaches is to take inspirations from nature and classic motifs like cane patterns, houndstooth and Greek key designs and add something just a bit out of place like vibrant colors.  

 5. What do you feel is your biggest influence on your own design ideas? 
 The natural world has the most influence on my design choices.   Bringing the outdoors inside through design and combining those choices with traditional patterns and bright colors is the core of our design philosophy.

6.. Do you have a design or artist's mentor, someone that has inspired you to push your boundaries?  If you do, who is/was it and why?  
Joe Cox, a great NC artist and one of my professors at NC State's School of Design, taught me to view color differently.  Joe knew no fear when it came to expressing himself through his art with color.
Ecoaccents bright turquoise coral trellis pillows for spring 2013
7. What do think is your true "uniqueness" with your products?  What sets you apart from other home decor companies?  
Ecoaccents is unique in that Ecoaccents products are made with earth friendly components and processes.  We use minimally processed and sustainable fibers, no VOC inks, recycled paper, paper products sourced from sustainable harvested trees and recycled plastic fiber inserts for our pillows.  Ecoaccents is unique in that we combine fresh design with an earth friendly approach to manufacturing.    

Burlap and Natural Cotton Blue Shell Placemats
8. Do you have any favorite eco-green charities that you like to support? 
We are happy to support the Ocean Conservancy.  Another wonderful charity, the Cristodora Foundation, caught our attention with it's thoughtful approach to educating children about the natural environment.  The Cristador Foundation provides inner city children with the opportunity to spend time out of the city and in the country on a working farm that the foundation owns.  This experience allows children to connect with nature on a personal level.  Having children grow to love their time spent in the outdoors is like creating an insurance policy for our earth.  We all want to protect and care for what we love.
9. Does your company participate in any fun green activities in your community?  
We have participated in local river clean ups and coastal turtle nest watches.  We  plan to join NC coastal clean ups this summer.   
Ecoaccents unique soft washed burlap sea turtle pillows
10. What are you, Laura Allen, most proud of?  
Of course, as a mom of three boys - I am most proud of my sons.
11. If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?  
I would live anywhere with my family but would love for us to be planted somewhere along the intra-coastal waterway overlooking the marsh.  
12. What would you like to try next?  
I have a list of home decor products that I would like to reinterpret in ecoaccents green style.  Stay tuned.. we hope to color your world green!

Can't wait to see what Ecoaccents comes up with next! For a full selection of their beach house pillows, including their unique washed burlap styles, and their fun table linens - check our website, and simply use our handy search bar with the words "Ecoaccents".

 Here's just a few of my favorite examples:

Can't get enough blue seahorses!
Or modern coastal bamboo-style in bright colors!

Hope you all enjoyed having a peek into one of our favorite eco-artists' world.  We love their well-made, durable and affordable coastal home decor, but especially admire their thoughtful approach to saving our oceans... one pillow at a time.

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