Thursday, May 14, 2015

Picnics on the Shore - 10 Inspirations for Fun!

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and then we will be in the full swing of summer and packing up our picnic basket as we head out most every weekend to explore a new coastal town or beach.  

Here are 10 of my favorite ideas to create a picnic on the shore!

1. Build an impromptu beach tent
What a fun idea from Apartment Therapy!  Cool idea for your kids to create their own little fort - Complete (super easy) list of what you will need to build a quick tent to protect from the sun, sand and wind at the beach, and instructions can be found on their site; Click Here for the how-to's

2, Bring your collection of vintage lanterns to create a welcoming atmosphere. 
An enchanting functional way to add light as the sun sets into the sea. I have a gorgeous red vintage lantern given to me by a good friend, I am putting it in the car for our trip up to wine country for a picnic this weekend! (so sorry - not sure about the image source!)

3. Don't forget to bring the grill!  
We have a pretty royal blue bucket one that we grabbed last summer at World Market, love how it's sort of self-contained with a large bucket space for the coals, and a convenient handle for carrying.  Works wonderfully to sit on a picnic table or in the sand.
(image from the

4. Pack a salad in a jar - pretty and convenient
I have a collection of these glass jars with the rubber seals that fit into our picnic basket, but you could use any jar with a closeable lid.  These three salads were super easy to pre-make and we had them last fall for a picnic dinner before an outdoor production of Shakespeare's play "Taming of the Shrew" at UC Santa Cruz.  Such a fun time! (recipe for these salads later this week - I promise!) 
For lots of ideas for "jar" picnic foods - check out this list of 50 Ideas for things to make.

5. Smore's are always fun! (and sort of essential for beach fires!) And an easy way to make a creative fun dessert for everyone at the picnic
Check out Buzzfeed's list of 39 different versions of smore's to find the perfect combination for your shore picnic. 

6. Pack real dishes and real silverware to add an extra special touch of elegance.
Besides it's more eco-friendly and won't blow around in the wind like paper plates. (sorry, not sure about image source)  I am on the hunt right now for a vintage picnic basket like this one....

7. Pack it all in an adorable crate!  
P.S. Don't forget that juicy novel you've been saving to read at the beach! (image from a lovely blog -

8. Don't forget to bring pillows! 
Love this picture of romance, but truly, I would make sure to bring outdoor friendly (and pretty) beach pillows to be on the safe side of salt and sand.

9. Bring a great beach blanket that can double as a "tablecloth" - large enough to really spread out 
Don't you just love her cute boots too?? (So sorry - not exactly sure of the original photograph source!)

10.  Make it simple, just carry your Champagne and glasses down to the dock for a little sunset romance!

Have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. A few ideas from Caron's Beach House that would be great for summer picnics!

 New Coral Reef Outdoor Dinnerware - looks like Italian Pottery! 

 Stackable, acrylic wine glasses.  Too fun - available in 3 colors

Coral Trellis Splendor Pillow

 We love these outdoor "Circles and Rings" bolster pillows - available in 2 colors; blue and turquoise

An "Essential" Throw that can easily double as a pretty picnic blanket/tablecloth.  Easy care and lightweight to fit into your basket - 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Take Mom to the Beach

Our Mom's Day Pinterest Board was Featured on Pinterest!  We were pretty darn excited to get noticed - 
From our Friends at Pinterest:
"Thanks for your submission to our Mother's Day form last week, and congrats! We're so impressed with your business's presence on Pinterest that we're featuring your Mother's Day board on our page feature here:
We loved your board in particular because it had a variety of fresh, well-described content both from your website and from others that are inspirational to you. Keep up the great work!"
All our best,
Jen and the Pinterest Partner Growth Team

(Note - image from Kristy Siebert's beautiful Starfish Cottage Blog, Lovely post - make sure you stop by and check out her ideas for beach cottage decorating!)
We've been gathering ideas for spending the day with your mom at the beach, or if you are a mom - ways that you can rest, relax and recharge your mom batteries with a day on the shore. Take a look at a few of our favorite ideas!  For more ideas check out our "Take Mom to the Beach"  Pinterest Board
Starting off with breakfast in bed - just like in this dreamy bedroom at Kristy's Starfish Cottage!
Go for a bike ride!
Maybe fill your basket full of wildflowers on the way....  LOVE this idea! (image source unknown)
Learn how to paint by the sea - I soooooo want to do to this! 
Go for a picnic! 
 I think this basket is a great idea, lots of room for beach blankets, and all of the extras that you need when you are planning a day of fun in the sun (sunscreen is a MUST!) and sand. Image from Style Me Pretty,styling by Aaron Hartselle, photography by Justin Sullival
Make a beautiful feast for your mom! 
An outdoor party always is fun, just make the planning easy and the menu items easy - it's all about the fun and relaxation for mother's day. (at least for me!) Image from Taste of Home - click for their great tips on planning a menu for seaside dining. Oh yum - the Shrimp Gazpacho looks so delish - I might have to try making this for a day trip to our beach!
Take lots of pictures!!!
Jennifer Dell's Blog Post "How to Take Pictures at the Beach" is an excellent tutorial, full of beautiful inspiration shots plus real practical advice for taking pics with your kids at the beach -
Make something with your found beach treasures -  
My mom and I both made seashell planters from shells and sea glass gathered on walks along her beach, and from our collected shell "travels".  Practical, very pretty and super easy project for kids of all ages.  Click for the instructions on our "End of Summer Beach Treasure" blog story!
Have a wonderful Mother's Day!  I am more than a little bummed out as my kids are off doing their own adult things and can't be here this weekend, and Tom and I can't be with our Mother's in the Pacific Northwest.  Oh well, trying not to be sad because I do know that we are all together in spirit, and will be together in the next few months.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fruity Margaritas To Try for the Non-Traditionalist!

(our School of Fish Margarita Glasses, make very pretty containers for Margaritas)

I almost missed it!  Cinco de Mayo is today, and this presents a delightful opportunity to try a new margarita recipe out on Tom.  Maybe with fresh strawberries, or better yet, fresh mangoes? Hmmm... I did see watermelons on sale last week...

I have been collecting some yummy margarita recipes on our Pinterest board "Cocktails, Anyone?" and thought I would share a Five Fruit Forward non-traditional recipes with you.   Now to decide which one to try for us tonight....

1. Strawberry and Mango Margarita

How about a blend of both strawberries and mangoes?  This easy recipe from looks so YUM! (pic and recipe from the BakerbyNature Blog)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 1 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
Throw everything together in your blender and mix until your margaritas are the right consistency.  Pour immediately into pretty glasses, garnish and serve!

2. The Tequila Sunrise Margarita 

From; a south of the border treat with fresh orange juice. Looks so delish, and is a non-blended recipe for those of us (raise your hand!) that try to avoid the "ice cream" headaches with blended cocktails...
  • Red Colored Sugar
  • Lime Wedge
  • 3 cups Triple Sec
  • 2 cups Tequila
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup superfine sugar or powdered sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • Ice Cubes
  • Grenadine Syrup
  • Orange Slices for garnish
1. Place red sugar on a small plate. Rub edges of cocktails glasses with lime wedge and then dip the rims into the sugar to coat.  Set finished glasses aside.
2. Combine triple sec, tequila, lime juice and sugar; stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Stir in orange juice and chill until ready to serve.
3. Add ice cubes to red sugar-rimmed glasses. Pour margarita mixture over the ice cubes and add 2 dashes of grenadine to each glasses.  Garnish with orange slices.  

Orange "twists" would be fun too as garnish!

3. Pineapple Margarita

Pineapple Margaritas from The Recipe Girl.  Who doesn't like pineapple for cocktails beside the sea?   Simple directions; add everything to the blender, whip until blended and then garnish with lime or pineapple slices. 
These might be the winner tonight!
  • 1 cup good tequila
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons triple sec
  • 4 teaspoons granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau
  • crushed ice
  • lime slices or pineapple slices for garnish (optional)
4. Watermelon Margaritas 
From, these margaritas look so refreshing! Created  (and photographed) by Erin Gleeson of the Forest Feast - a fabulously dreamy recipe blog from Sonoma Country.  (one of our day trip hang-outs!)
  • 10 lime wedges
  • 3 cups Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
  • 2 cups tequila
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup super fine sugar
  • 5 cups seedless watermelon chopped
  1. If desired, freeze cubes of watermelon on a waxed paper-lined tray for 1 to 2 hours or until firm.
  2. Place salt on a small plate. Rub rims of eight glasses with one of the lime wedges. Dip rims of glasses in salt to coat; set aside. (Erin, of the Forest Feast, the recipe creator skipped this step - I might too, or at least experiment to see what tasted better)
  3. In a pitcher combine Triple Sec, tequila, lime juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup of tequila mixture into blender or food processor with chopped watermelon (working in batches if necessary). Cover and blend or process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Combine watermelon juice with remaining tequila mixture. Stir. Chill until ready to serve.
  5. Place frozen watermelon cubes, if using, in salt-rimmed glasses. Pour tequila mixture over watermelon cubes. Garnish with remaining lime wedges.
5. Chili Lime Mango Margaritas
Love this idea of spicy and sweet mixed together. From the Minimalist Baker - super cute blog!  Another non-blended margarita recipe - yay
  • For the Margaritas:
    • 1 ripe mango, cubed (~1 cup or 157 g)*
    • 1 cup (240 ml) orange juice
    • 2 small limes, juiced (~1 ounce)
    • 2.5 -3 ounces (73 - 88 ml) silver tequila (depending on preferred strength of drink)
    • 1 ounce (29.5 ml) triple sec or orange liqueur
    • Dash hot sauce (optional)
    • 1-3 (15-45 ml) Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (depending on sweetness of mango)
    For the Chili Salt Rim
    • 1 lime wedge for rimming
    • 1 tsp chili powder + 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Add all margarita ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness / strength of alcohol as desired.
  2. To chill, either blend in a large handful of ice cubes to make a frozen margarita, or transfer half of the mixture to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Rim serving glasses with a lime wedge and immediately dip in salt/chili powder mixture, and fill with 1 large ice cube or several small. Pour over margarita and garnish with lime wedge.

Would love to know if you have anything special planned for Cinco de Mayo, or if you have a favorite margarita recipe you'd like to share! 

P.S.  Don't forget pretty glassware for serving!

Stemless Glassware is always a favorite at the coast - doesn't tip over in the sand!  Our Seahorses are rather popular...

Pineapples would be fun too! Especially with the pineapple margarita recipe...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Strawberries and Salmon - who knew?

Confession time again - I am a true Pacific Northwest girl, and can eat lovely pink salmon prepared in just about any way that you can figure out how to serve it; grilled, smoked, barbecued, baked, fresh poke - you name it, I will eat it.  (my kids and Tom too!)

My belief is that salmon is just one of nature's perfect foods. (as long as you get all of the bones out - thank goodness for Tom!)

This salmon dinner idea all started with my birthday trip up to Napa and Dry Creek last weekend. I begged Tom to stop at Jacuzzi Winery at the edge of Sonoma to do a little olive oil tasting and balsamic vinegar sampling. If you are any kind of "foodie" - this is a must gourmet stop on a trip to wine country.
And look - they were having a sale! Perfect time to stock up on goodies.  A new bottle of their special Master Blend olive oil, maybe a little bottle of the Arbequina Olive Oil, a new jar of Herbs de Provence and of course, the strawberry balsamic vinegar.

( I may have a problem...)

The Salmon part of this feast is super super simple:

Shopping List
1. Really good filet of salmon. Avoid farmed if you can. (1/2 lb. per person)
2. Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3. Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
4. A dash of Herbs de Provence
Use your handy dandy "bone" tweezers to remove all of the stray bones. (or ask your husband.... lol) Spread olive oil on salmon, and season with salt, pepper and spices.

Grill salmon pink flesh side down for approximately 3 minutes, then flip over on skin side, grill for 7 minutes. Look for fat to start showing on surface of fish, indicating that it is done.  DO not overcook!

Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

Shopping List:
  1. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  2. Fresh sprigs of rosemary, chopped for 1 Tablespoon. Dried rosemary will work, but be careful, because sometimes the dried version is like floating pine needles in your sauce!
  3. 1 Large Shallot finely minced (1/4 - 1/3 cup)
  4. 1/3 cup chicken broth
  5. 1/3 cup strawberry preserves
  6. 3 Tablespoons strawberry balsamic vinegar.  Note: I used strawberry vinegar, but you plain balsamic vinegar is fine also.
  7. 3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries. I also add blackberries when I can find them later in the summer.
  8. 2-3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter to whisk in the sauce at the end. This final step makes all the difference, trust me.
Heat pan on medium with olive oil, add shallots to skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until starting to caramelize.  Mix  broth, strawberry preserves, vinegar and rosemary together in a separate bowl and then add to cooking shallots.  Simmer 3-4 minutes until beginning to thicken, then add in the fresh strawberries.  Simmer a few more minutes until thick, then whisk in the cold butter, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until your sauce becomes a nice consistency.

Serve on a bed of baby greens with roasted cauliflower. Fabulous and healthy!

And the wine?  We highly recommend a lovely Pinot Noir. We are a little picky about our Pinot, (there are a lot of bad Pinots to be found) Luckily we found a great choice at Stuhlmuller Vineyards last weekend, curated from their vines on the Russian River Valley.  Served in our Cast of Crab Wine Glasses

I promise you, this simple sauce works magic on salmon!

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