Ready, Set, Beach!!!!

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I’ve determined that I am a beach bum.  The beach is my happy place be it the height of summer or the dead of winter.  There is something calming about the sound of the waves and sand between my toes.  It is a place where I can “hear myself think”.  Given the Zombie Apocalypse of 2020, I’m finding it to be my remote work refuge.  A place to contemplate and work and, better yet, the view is amazing!

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With the upcoming holiday, I am setting the week aside as vacation.  It’s time for some pleasure reading, beach walking, and general out of office time.  I’m packing the beach bag with goldfish for a snack, my kindle loaded with beach reads, my iPod with audiobooks and a playlist and I’ve ordered a case of sunscreen from Amazon.

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2020 beach reading list (no reviews as I’m just set to start my reading binge)

  • Feels Like Falling, Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Hello Summer, Mary Kay Andrews
  • Chanel’s Rivera,Anne de Courcey
  • Sex and Vanity, Kevin Kwan
  • Drawing Home, Jamie Brenner

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2020 audiobook playlist (no reviews as I’ve just started listening and walking)

  • The Summer House, James Patterson
  • The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel
  • Firing Point, Tom Clancy
  • Resistance Women, Jennifer Chiaverini
  • All the Ways We Said Goodbye, Beatriz Williams
  • True Evil, Greg Iles

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Packing list for the beach bag

  • Sunscreen – 30 and 50.  My go to is Coola but I couldn’t find the unscented this year so I’m opting for Supergoop.
  • Beach towel – I’m still using monogrammed bath sheets I ordered from Neiman’s years ago but I keep eyeing the ones from Weezie.  I love their makeup towels.
  • Tech – iPod, kindle and AirPod Pro (the pro are amazing at noise reduction.  I highly recommend)
  • Cooler with drinks and a spray bottle of Evian to cool you down
  • Goldfish
  • Hat

It’s the little things

2020 is the year of the zombie apocalypse. That’s were I am with this year. I joked to a good friend that I was stamping it defective return to sender. That’s truly what I’d like to do. I love New York and visit there often. Now, I cringe in horror as I consider a visit at some point in the distant future.

Then there are the things that I’d forgotten, the things that make you smile, the things that matter, the little things. Working from home has reminded me how much I love the light in my kitchen. Something so simple but something that puts a smile on my face when I walk into the room. Same with a quick chat with my neighbor. BC (before COVID-19) I was always racing somewhere. There was the office, an appointment, an errand, something that I had to get to. Now there is time to breathe. Things are slowed down which lets me appreciate the blessings in my life – and I am truly blessed.

So what are the little things I’ve rediscovered?

  • Cooking – I’ve always loved to cook but there is a difference between cooking to simply eat a meal and cooking to enjoy.  The former is quick and usually involves a microwave and something quick.  The latter, is slow.  It is a process to be enjoyed. I love contemplating what I’m going to serve, sourcing the ingredients, preparing the meal and then serving it with china and linen and, most importantly taking the time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Also, its probably healthier than the other option.
  • The fur ones – It struck me that it had been ages since I’d taken a long walk with the pups or played a game of fetch.  To be certain they were not neglected.  In point of fact they are spoiled rotten but somewhere the weekend walk on the trail and the evening play disappeared into life.  What a treat to get out in the fresh air with the pup and exercise my legs after being at my desk for hours.  Sun also helps.
  • Organizing my home  – I literally hear my Mom in my head each evening.  Are there dishes in the sink, did you hang up your coat, put away whatever – well, you get the picture.  At the end of each day she straightened each room before she went to bed. Everything in its place for the start of the next day.  I’ve adopted her habit.  Not that I’m messy or generally disorganized but, again, the little thing of waking up to a straight house is a wonderful feeling.
  • Writing letters, talking to someone on the phone, arranging cut flowers, planting my container pots, taking a moment to breathe and enjoy rather than rushing through to get to the next thing on my to do list.  

 

I think I’m reclaiming my life.  Or, maybe I am remembering to live my life.  This “pause” as someone called it the other day, has given me the freedom to manage my own schedule.  I still have a ton of work that must be done, if anything, those responsibilities have increased.  Still, it doesn’t quite feel like it because I can manage my life in a different way.  A way that lets me enjoy the work, the career, and my life.   The talking heads say this is a black swan moment.  I don’t know if that is true but I hope that as we move to what is next we manage to take some of the good this time has brought with us.

 

It may be the zombie apocalypse, but I’m learning to live my life again.  

 

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Master suite makeover; a work in progress

Everyone needs a project in the middle of a pandemic if for no better reason than to distract from the apocalypse.  As an aside, is anyone besides me thinking this time is a bad mix of reality tv and dystopian fiction, the worst of each form you can find?  Thus, my need to do something to occupy myself.

Paint and Color Scheme

 

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Before this all started, I’d started to redesign my master suite.  Now I’m full tilt into the project.  First up was to paint.  I’m using Farrow and Ball pointing in estate eggshell.  I’ve used it throughout my house in different finishes.  It is my favorite creamy white.  I first saw it used in one of the Kips Bay decorator homes and it’s been my go to ever since.

Next up is the color scheme.  I went back and forth between blue, black, and white and green, black, and white before selecting the green combo.  For me green is restful and relaxing.  I’ve done a black and white room and a green room before.  This room combines both in a combination I’ve not previously used but am loving.  Even better, in selecting the green combo I can use things I already have at the house.

The Bed

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Working with Second Yard in Charlottesville (they are amazing), I selected Thibaut’s Oriental Toil in green for an upholstered headboard.  Alice helped me design the shape and suggested a contrasting black cording.  The result is amazing.  I’m pairing the custom headboard with black and white sheets and a duvet from my linen closet.  I love white bedding so I tend to grab sheet sets from Rue Lala when they go on sale.  Added benefit is that I tend to go with sheets with either green or black embroidery in all my bedrooms so laundry is easy.  For the duvet insert and pillows, my go to is the Yves Delorme outlet in Charlottesville.  They have an annual sale on bedding which is the time to stock up.

The bed skirt was inspired by a lace skirt I found on Pinterest.  I wanted something that contrasted with the headboard.  I selected a sheer fabric and used a box pleat design.  The creamy white color of the fabric ties in with the white in the headboard and furthers that green and white combo.

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For the finishing touch I’m considering a monogrammed bolster pillow from Leontine Lines.  They’ve done pillows for another bed that are to die for.  I’m also contemplating a quilt in either green or black.

Lighting

So far I’ve selected one lamp for the space.  I will need another but I’m still working on furniture and placement so more to come.  The one lamp I settled on is brass with a green and white shade by Fermoie.  The Shade Shop in Charlottesville has an amazing selection.

 

Furniture

I’m still selecting furniture.  At a minimum, I’m going to be searching for a night stand and chest. My plan is to take my time and find pieces I love.  I am repurposing a vanity bench that I already have.  I also found an antique love seat at the local antique barn.  I’m having both the bench and the love seat painted with a black mirror finish using Fine Paints of Europe paint for that mirror finish. Palette Home out of Richmond/Charlottesville is my go to for paint.  I’m using a Thibaut green and white print to upholster the love seat and make a pillow for the bench.

Stay tuned .  .  .

 

 

A bit of the familiar

 

Everyone keeps talking about the “new normal”.  I’m not certain what that even is or looks like but I am certain that I needed a dose of the familiar.  This time of year is beautiful in the south.  My normal on Saturday is a trip to the nursery for ferns, flowers, and herbs.  It is a trip I plan and savor.  Once there, I love taking my time. Imagining new combinations, thinking about a cocktail or dinner on the patio and the joy of summer.

I ventured out not certain what I’d find since we are still “closed for business”.  I was pleasantly surprised to find my nursery open for business.  For a brief hour, I immersed myself in the familiar and joyous task of planning my patio for the summer.  How wonderful to think of fun things.

When I left the nursery, my car was filled with herbs for cooking, flowers for the containers and ferns for the front porch.  I’ll take that hour of familiarity in a time that is otherwise so uncertain.

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Summer Reads Audible Style

Is listening to an audiobook “reading”?  While not “reading” in the traditional or neurological (due to different processing in the brain) sense; but an excellent alternative when you are driving, exercising, otherwise engaged in an activity where you are unable to “read.”

As an avid reader, I often have several books started at any given time and one of them is likely to be an audible book.  This summer I’ve listened while painting, weeding, exercising, and driving.  As confession is good for the sole, I confess I’ve listened to some excellent books and then there are the duds.  My summer thumbs up / thumbs down list follows.

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Those on the thumbs up list all share common features.  They had an engaging plot, likeable characters and were well written.  Park Avenue Summer and Down River are not to be missed.  They are excellent!  So, thumbs up for:

Park Avenue Summer

Down River

The Mulberry Tree

The Spitfire Girls

The Malta Exchange

The Girl From Berlin

Single Malt Murder

Honorable mentions to :  The Mother in Law and Berlin Calling

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Those earning a thumbs down also shared certain characteristics including a wandering plot, need for a good editor, and characters who were not rootable. Both The Golden Hour and Wunderland held so much potential.  Yet, they both fell flat.  I kept thinking get on with it!

 

Ashford Castle and Tea

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I love tea and I wanted to stay in a Castle .  On my recent trip to Ireland I combined a few of my favorite things and spent an amazing afternoon at Ashford Castle.

Ashford is that fairytale Castle of your dreams.  The Castle has hosted Kings, Presidents and, most recently was the  site of golf pro Rory McIlroy’s nuptials, it has a wonderful golf course, excellent fishing, clays for shooting, falconry, a spa, beautiful gardens, and amazing food.  I now understand the concept of eating until you pop.

On a recent rainy Sunday, I was fortunate to spend the entire afternoon curled up by a fire having tea and champagne with my favorite gal pal.  Two pots of tea, four glasses of champagne and nibbles was the perfect setting to spend the afternoon.

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I opted for the Irish Wiskey-Cream tea.  Described as the “extravagant flavor of Irish whiskey with a hint of cocoa blended with a malty Assam tea” it lives up to its description as delicious.  Nibbles included chicken salad sandwiches, salmon, ham and cheese, scones with lemon curd, clotted cream, and strawberry and rhubarb jam.  The tip from the server was lemon curd with the cheddar cheese scone.  The pairing was perfect!  The sweets course included eclairs and other tasty sweets but the cheddar cheese scones were my favorite.

What an amazing setting to spend a rainy afternoon.

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Going Home, Charleston, SC

 

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I’m on my way to the 47th annual family reunion in Charleston.  Every summer growing up we planned a visit to Charleston for my Mom’s family reunion.  Held on Sullivan’s Island, the family with all the cousins would gather for a vast lunch, sno cones, the beach, and lots of fun catching up.

As the ladies of the family were wonderful cooks, lunch was always a treat.  Ham, Charleston red rice, shrimp, fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw, and macaroni salad were among the traditional dishes found on the table.  The dessert table was not to be overlooked with poundcake, pies, and cookies.  Add in plenty of homemade sweet iced tea and good conversation and it was always a delightful day for all.

It’s been years since I’ve been able to attend but I’m headed there this year.  I’m so excited to be back in Charleston.  Flying in there was this sense that I was home.  From the plane I could see the marsh and the peninsula.  The humidity and heat enveloped me as I exited the plane bringing a large smile to my face.  This is the place I loved as a child.

With the passing of my grandparents, I opted for a reservation at Charleston Place Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Charleston, it was ideally located for a walk to the battery and the waterfront parks, shopping on King Street, and a visit to the vegetable market.

King Street was always the place for a shopping expedition and continues to be the location for delightful boutiques.  I (re)discovered Ben Silvers and Sara Campbells.  A trip to Charleston would not be complete without a walk through the market to look at the sweetgrass baskets.  They are individual works of art and I always find creative uses for them at home.

Sullivans Island is a barrier island off of Charleston and home of Fort Moultrie, used in the Revolution.  White sand beaches and beautiful old homes mark it as a lovely location for a family gathering and a swim or day at the beach.

 

She crab soup, beautiful iron work, great food, and family, I’m going home!

Swimsuit Attire

 

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I love the beach and pool and opt for any chance to spend time there.  Recently I decided it was time to replace some of my favorite pieces.  After years of constant wear they’d seen better days.  That begged the question – what to replace them with?  I’m also very conscious of the sun.  My father suffered from skin cancer and was my partner in crime when it came to the beach so I opt for sunscreen, hats, and sun shirts when I’m thinking out side.  For more on my sunscreen odyssey see my post at Sunscreen plus the hat!    As an update I’m going with COOLA!

The swim suit.  I love Tory Burch’s suits and have worn the ones I have out.  They hold up well even after years of use.  I wanted something new though.   I tried a new one made by Marysia.  I loved it enough to purchase a second.  One tip I got from a friend was to purchase the same suit in different colors so the strap lines are in the same place.  I’ve taken that tip to heart.  I have the same Tory suit in navy and black and now the same Marysia suit in white and black and a two piece with the same top.

After settling on a new swimsuit, I decided I needed a refresh on my coverup.  They were also showing signs of wear.  I decided that I wanted a sun shirt.  I purchased a lovely swing style one from Mott with a 50 spf and I found a men’s long sleeve sun shirt in the tennis pro shop that I’ve co-opted.  I wear it with a terry polo mini skirt I’ve had for ages. The mini skirt needs a refresh but I’ve not found a replacement for it – yet!  Although not a sun shirt I also found a lovely tunic style shirt to wear for yoga that I’m giving a trial run as a cover up.  My favorite new addition, however, is a lovely tunic from Gretchen Scott.  It is hand embroidered and simply lovely.

My beach attire would not be complete without a hat, flip flops, and sun glasses.  I usually take both a large floppy hat and a baseball cap or visor in my bag.   The cap and visor are great when the wind whips up and the floppy hat goes flying.  The floppy hat with a wide brim is my preference though to keep the sun off my face.  I’ve used a black hat for many years but at the end of last summer I discovered Peter Beaton’s hats. I have a lovely new one with a wide brim, black blow and pink under rim.  It is amazing. I opt for Channel sunnies.  There is something about the lens they use that makes them perfect for use outside.  For flip flops I am addicted to Tory’s basic black.  I have the traditional ones and the wedge ones.  The wedges are amazing and add a little something to the outfit.

My final mention is to Buckhead Betties for my suit bag.  There is nothing worse than carrying a wet suit.  I discovered a travel pouch designed for carrying your wet suit at Buckhead Betties.  The lining is waterproof and perfect for a wet suit (or your wet hair towel).

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Egg Salad: Comfort Food

 

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Growing up summer at the beach included egg salad sandwiches for lunch.  I have fond memories of Mom boiling eggs and turning them into deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches.  She knew they were a favorite we shared.  Egg salad, chips and a coke and lunch was served.  I have so many fond memories of those lunches.  White sandy beaches, heat, heat, humidity and fun.

Although I never thought about it, the egg salad seemed to be seasonal.  The sandwiches would start appearing after Easter and end sometime after Labor Day.  These days I look forward to my egg salad at the Masters.  There is something about their version of the egg salad sandwich that takes me back to Mom’s.  I’ve  been trying to decode their recipe for years now.  Today as I mixed my egg salad for sandwiches on the beach, I finally came close!

 

 

One dozen eggs – hard boiled and dumped into an ice bath to make pealing easy.

Peel eggs, slice and mash

Add salt and pepper to taste

Mix in 1/4 of mayo to start, add additional as needed.  I used lite mayo,

Add a tablespoon of mustard.  I used Frenches

Spread on bread of your choice and enjoy!

Summer Beach Reads

It’s that time of year again!  With Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer I think of the beach, pool, and nights playing tennis.  I also think of what I’m going to load to my kindle or iPod to “read” at the beach or pool.  These are some of my recent favorite reads!

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Kristy W. Harvey is my new favorite author.  If you like Alice Monroe or Dorothy Benton Frank, you will love Harvey.  Her Peachtree Bluff trilogy is can’t put down.  I love the mix of the southern beach town with a hint of New York City thrown into the mix.  The story of strong women facing and overcoming the challenges in their lives.  Run, don’t walk to grab these for your beach bag.

 

 

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I devoured the Discovery of Witches trilogy.  It was different, fun, compelling and historical – even for someone who doesn’t run to stories of vampires, witches and demons.  This is the latest.  It is Marcus’ story and it does not disappoint.  All my favorite characters are back in the mix, Diana, Matthew, Baldwin but the focus is on Marcus as Matthew’s son and his upcoming marriage.

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If you enjoy that WWII suspense, espionage book, this and the Alice Network are books for you  I “read” (listened) to both with the audible versions.  I highly recommend the audible version for a long car trip (say to the beach!).  The Alice Network is set in occupied France while the Huntress takes a slightly different turn moving back and forth between post war Boston, post war Austria, and the Eastern front.  Both feature the work of brave women in the war.  The Huntress takes an unusual turn by featuring a woman as a sought after Nazi war criminal.

 

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If you’ve not found the Maisie Dobbs series yet, now is the time. The series began with Maisie in WWI and we’ve now progressed to WWII and the London blitz.  The latest, The American Agent, provides wonderful insight into the beginning of WWII and America’s take on a new world war.

 

More recommendations to come!  I think this is going to be a huge reading summer.