Beachy Keen Vibes

It's no secret I'm a sunshine, bare feet, short shorts & itty bitty teeny weeny bikini kinda gal. I thrive on the hottest days & become some type of super human when the sun hits my skin. Growing up in Miami with the only "real" season being summer meant I had Vitamin D exposure & happy vibes year round.

Fast Forward to 2010, and something inside pushed me to take the leap of faith and jump to NYC with no job and a couple of rando Craigslist roommates with just the savings I had from my little headband business I started in college.  Moving to NYC was no easy feat in the beginning. The multi-layered winter situation on my tiny frame just didn't tickle my fancy (I much prefer shorts & a linen top.) The reality of having to commute while the sky falls on your head and stomping through slush puddles that can almost hit your knees, with who knows what dying or breeding, was really not too appealing; but, that's enough ragging on winter (it has its perks too), because this post isn't about winter; it's about summer, my beloved summer, and how I've grown to love it in the north.

As time unfolds, I've really had a chance to explore outside the confines of Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens proper, and it's opened my eyes & soul entirely. I've fallen in love with new corners of the world I would've never thought existed had we not left the bubble of NYC. From the rolling hills and mountains (Poconos, Catskills, Green, White & the majestic Adirondacks) to the clear, sandy beaches out east all along the coastline, it's been so much fun exploring what else the northeast has to offer beyond the hustle and bustle. No, I don't go in the water 'till August or September when global warming is at it's peak, but I certainly dip my toes in until then, and that somehow has a magical way of cooling off my entire body and fulfilling the ocean dreams spawned from my south Floridian childhood.

Alright; let's cut to the chase: What's this damn post about?! I'm glad you asked! I've bunkered down this Sunday afternoon with covfefe in hand, and slight sunshine on my bod, curating our edit on summer fav's for a super chic beach day with a lover or friend(s). Whether you're in Nantucket, The Hamptons, Jones Beach, Gold Coast, Sardinia or anywhere in between, you'll want to take a load off and have a look at our edit! You may even find yourself snooping our links to purchase these items yourself. And, if you do, be sure to include our hashtag #sheaxshea so we can take a peak inside your dream journal and interpretation of a chic beach day! 

Happy Readings! x, Becky 


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The Summer Edit

#1 item for your chic beach day is Rosé

When it comes to rosé, Miraval is our absolute favorite. It has the perfect shade of petal pink with a crisp finish. It's an awesome addition to your picnic or fruit/cheese spread. If you toss an ice cube infused with edible flowers to keep it crisp, your pals will be knocked off their loafers, and it'll keep that rosé fresh to death. Interested in making those cubes? Here's a fab how-to! And for the record, we are advocates of "rose all day!" and don't single out any one in particular. In short, we aren't married to just Miraval and are always open to try a new kid on the block. Here's a quick hit list of our personal favorites to consider for your next beach day: Miraval, Whispering Angel & Gerard Bertrand (make sure to include ice packs inside your cooler), though we'd love to hear from you on yours! 

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#2 item for your chic beach day is an amazing blanket 

We love bringing a blanket to lay everything out on, including our towels. It's an additional layer of comfort and from someone who has to think about aesthetics constantly, we can attest that it definitely makes your environment feel cool and more like home (away from home). We have an affinity to turkish or linen blankets, because they're light weight, soft on the skin & blend in perfectly with the sandy beach vibes. Here are a few of our fav's which you can buy right now for your next beach day! (click any of the pics to take you directly to the artisan!)

#3 item to bring on your chic beach day is a delicious, funky towel 

We've fallen victim to purchasing beach towels on vacation that are tacky-tourist level, and yes we still use those since they're utilitarian, so bring 'em on the journey for dipping in and out of the ocean. They also make great neck pillows when rolled into small sausage shapes. But if we wanna be true to the chic vibe, you've got to check these out from the beach people who we've been stalking for some time and are roughly 2 clicks away from making our shopping cart dreams a reality. Designed in Australia, made of 100% soft cotton  (luxe woven jacquard), plush velour top and terry reverse for drying after a dip in the sea, these are sure to add that YAS moment to your chic line-up. The round shape is non-conventional to the traditional rectangular towel and really gives your neck of the woods some major curb appeal, not to mention the carrier it comes in is out of this world. 

#4 lots and lots of water (all the water) and NOT in plastic bottles! Cue in the environmentalists in us

You guys know we have an agenda when it comes to plastic. We've personally reduced our plastic intake at home & have made a concerted effort to deny plastic straws, utensils, containers, bags at any establishments that are still using plastic on demand.  We swear by Swell's technology that keeps our H20 cool & crisp and are compact to carry along. These are great to bring to the beach because they're small in size, light weight and truly keep your beverage the same temperature throughout the entire day, no matter how much sun hits the bottle (I'm convinced it's some crazy voodoo magic) 

#5 a gorgeous beach bag to store all of the above (+ more, hello sunscreen and rose water face mist! - keep scrolling) Who wouldn't want to look effortless while strolling down the beach in your skivvies and bare bum out in the open? These are beautiful bags that will keep all your goodies safe & sound in one place while also adding an eye catching element to your spread. We personally LOVE handwoven bags. They're light weight (consistency is key), and there's something so special about a hand made product. Being able to connect with the energy of the maker's craftsmanship through every fiber and corner makes these bags a win/win in our eyes. Plus, an added bonus on the interior front, these bags make great decorative accents when summer fades and autumn rolls in. Cue in mudrooms and entry ways, fill these bags with blankets or dried flowers and you'll give this article a breath of new life in seconds. 

Some additional *important* cues for your chic beach day check list: 

  • Sunscreen (Body): Neutrogena Beach Defense SPF 30
  • Sunscreen (Face) : Laura Mercier Foundation/Primer SPF 30 *we never leave the house without this on, including non-beach days* 
  • Face Mist: Glossier Rosewater face mist - who doesn't want fresh, delicious smelling water misted on their hot, dried out face? 
  • Sunglass Cleaner: Clarity AR Sunglass cleaning solution (because your sunscreen hands are bound to touch the lens and there's nothing worse than being able to enjoy your view with 20/20 vision!)
  • Sunglasses: we say, to each their own on this one, but don't forget them if you want to avoid crows feet 
  • Hat: Panama Jack or Janessa Leone - our two personal favorites 
  • Beach Umbrella: This is great when you want to take a minute from roasting and catch a little shade. We alternate our sun bathing pattern to avoid major burns 
  • Snacks (We make homemade sandwiches or chicken/tuna salad, and we always bring a slew of fresh fruit (our go to's: kiwi, mango, donut peaches *these are the equivalent of healthy crystal meth, they are addictive!*, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. We love carrots, cauliflower or broccoli to dip with hummus, and we never leave for a beach day without an assortment of nuts & bark thins) We try to avoid foods that are heavy in fat or greasy. The beach is about light and airy, so we apply that to our nutrition. 

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And the most important thing about a chic beachy keen vibe is to truly enjoy the vibe. Summer is short, sweet, memorable and essentially the season that gives us the most heart and soul. It's important to meditate on how beautiful life is and how fortunate we are to have breath, sight, smell, sound, touch and perspective on what a gift it is to be alive and well. To us, the definition of summer is the celebration of life to its fullest amongst the lush, green, vibrant environment, animals and humans basking in vitamin D, and, of course, the beach along with all its glory. That is what has made summer so special to me. It brings me back to my amazing childhood memories in an iteration of myself that has an even deeper appreciation because of the shortened duration of my favorite season. Now, get your suns out, and your buns out, because it's in order. It's beach season! xo


Most beautiful dining rooms we ever did see


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Dining rooms date back to early greek and roman civilizations, which were known for their banquet feasts & grandiose style. From the overall exaggerated ceiling heights to the extra long trestle tables, dinner parties have always been a place for friends, family & patrons alike to gather and consume a bounty of food & drink. During its hay day, dining rooms were on a completely different floor than the kitchen, especially in castles and manors, which were coined "the great hall."

On a personal note, wouldn't every New Yorker just love a dining room? Let alone on an entirely different floor? We dream of the day when we can whip up a meal without hesitation, suited for our closest friends and family to come together to eat, drink & be merry. 

We've curated a list of drool-worthy dining rooms (in their natural habitat) you will not want to miss. Everything from long, to round, square, live edge and banquet style that are properly appointed to accommodate a gaggle of guests or a solo breakfast alone with your coffee & bagel (not the dating app - though no discrimination here; feel free to scroll through that feed simultaneously). When you dive into our light Sunday read, don't forget to feast your eyes on the surroundings in these incredible dining spaces. There is something to be said about a completely intentional room that has considered every facet of design from light fixtures, doors, natural lighting, art, rugs & chairs (who will certainly have their own post in due time).  When we design a dining room, we think of its purpose and what will take place there day to day, so we can improve the flow & desired lifestyle for the room, especially one as intimate as the dining space. We always prioritize function, followed by beauty, because who doesn't want their food to have a pretty perch to lay on once it's been baked or whisked in the kitchen?! (#instagrammoment)

If you're in the mood to host a dinner party and have the proper setup, we've laid out our tips & tricks on how to make that happen. Figured we'd give you some pointers on what to think about should you ever be caught like a deer in the headlights in one of these spaces. Happy Reading! 

x, Becky



- Ambience - 

As designers & tastemakers, we understand that each of the senses should be stimulated in order to create a balanced home, and the same rule applies during any type of gathering set at home. The first step is a clean and tidy space that can be layered with candles, warm lighting, fresh flowers, music *at the perfect volume* and texture.



- timing -

It’s important to understand the space you have and how many guests you can comfortably accommodate to create your flow. Having a low-key, laid-back plan in place for the evening is instrumental to the success of keeping conversation active and your guests engaged.



- food -

We find it’s important to ask well in advance if any of your guests have food allergies or restrictions so you can accommodate and include variety on your menu. We always have a medley of bitesize appetizers our guests can nibble on as they settle in and make themselves comfortable, coupled with a fully stocked bar and variety of mixers, fruits and garnishes.  It's fun to include a seasonal signature cocktail (TBT to our Winter selections), which can always add to the experience.



- décor - 

It’s important to know how many courses you'll be serving so that you can include the right number of plates, glassware and flatware.  From there you can build out your table décor with the knowledge that each guest’s footprint is accounted for. We get creative and use edible centerpieces, seasonal flowers in vases from throughout our home, musky scented candles, and love a fun place card to pique curiosity and ignite conversation.



- entertainment -

If your budget permits, we recommend hiring a bartender along with 1 wait-staff who can help with making cocktails and tidying up. This allows you to be a part of the entertainment while enjoying the company of your guests. There are quite a few services to find reasonable options by the hour that won't break the bank (think taskrabbit or thumbtack). We always like having games and quirky masks out to have a little fun amongst each other. As of late, we’re major fans of Apple TV's aerial art in the background that alternates throughout the night. The content is stunning and keeps us/our guests engaged.



In a nut shell, we can all dream of a dining room that's as free flowing & functional as the above examples and hope our hosting tips are helpful if you're lucky enough to have the space. Tell us which dining room of these you'd pick & what types of flowers you'd layer in. And if you could invite anyone in the world to this party, who would it be?!  

Would you beach house or mountain house?

Growing up in sunny Miami (12 months of pretty perfect beach weather) the warm, tropical environment was embedded into my DNA & the concept of sea & sand intersecting gave & continues to give me complete zen when we do get the opportunity to dip our toes in the sea (rare as they may be!)

Fast forward to adulting in New York City, where beach moments are limited from June to September (if we're being real) which is when you can sit on the coastline & enjoy the salty air without a sweater or blanket. The theoretical conversation at home always comes down to what's better, a beach house or a mountain house? What could we get more use out of living in the North? And is it possible to enjoy a beach house as much as a mountain house during the blistering, cold winter months? (Maybe? But probably not?)

The beach babe in me says a beach house is always the answer and preferably in a climate that's warm year round. BUT the logical babe in me, especially in recent days when I see our calendars filling up months in advance with work commitments, I think about how nice it would be to have a quick escape outside the city, (1.5-2 hours max) in nature, that requires little to no effort or hours on hours of jam packed travel. We think about when we'd desperately want to hit the beach (Jan-March) & sadly for us, that means dead of winter which requires getting out of dodge altogether. So, if we had the ability to just pick and choose, I'd say mountain house here in NYC & a beach house some place exotic or in LA (since CA has my soul anyway.) 

Where do you guys picture yourselves truly enjoying your surroundings, limiting or not? Would you beach house or mountain house if you could?

Below are my top 8 beach & mountain homes. If only we could have one or better yet, BOTH! Enjoy a light Sunday read! 

x, Becky 


Favorite Beach Houses

Container Home
beach house
beach house
beach house
beach house
Villa Palmier
beach house

favorite mountain houses 

mountain house
mountain house
mountain house
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Spring flowers so pretty, they give me the butterflies

Happy Spring & Welcome to Sunday night! Yesterday was a serious tease in all sorts of ways. From waking up and feeling 69 degrees on our bods while drinking covfefe, to driving an hour east (without checking the temp) to "hit the beach" and be welcomed by 47 degrees. It's all good though, we found a sunny, secluded spot in Prospect Park & picnic'ed with our home-made sandwiches & strawberries. Today, it's cold again. But this time, I know it won't be for long. I know you're out there spring and it's totally okay to come out and hang now. With spring top of mind, I couldn't help but write a snippet on why I absolutely love flowers, in fact, I love flowers so much, I'm convinced I may have been a flower in my past life. In the last year, I've put more effort into the floral design at our shoots. It's transformative and humbling to work with your hands and nature and see what it can do to your psyche, as well as how it'll make the space look. From the colors to the scents, flowers are a happy reminder that life is beautiful! 

As of this week, I'm really digging arrangements that resemble nature in a truer, more "stress-free" form. I'm sure you're wondering, what on earth does this girl mean? It's simple, if flowers fall into place as they normally would in their natural (non-human touched) habitat, they have a different appeal to them than the perfectly constructed bouquets (who are marvels in their own right.) Right now, I'm really vibing & looking forward to creating pieces with different heights, widths and slightly flawed so there's more character and depth. Here's my Sunday night round up of brilliant talent & their floral magic! x Becky

Some of my favorite flower designers include: Tinge Floral, Jenya Flowers, Sammy go Lambert, Nicolette Camille Floral, Bows & Arrows Flowers, and Jill Gaynor Floral Design 


 Jenya Flowers - we cannot get over this real life table top flower field. we would kill to dine in a setting like this! jenya is so in touch with nature and its reflected in his creations 

Jenya Flowers - we cannot get over this real life table top flower field. we would kill to dine in a setting like this! jenya is so in touch with nature and its reflected in his creations 


 Jenya Flowers - another masterful creation by Jenya using splashes of color inspired by fruit, and his flowers landing perfectly in each direction.

Jenya Flowers - another masterful creation by Jenya using splashes of color inspired by fruit, and his flowers landing perfectly in each direction.

 
 Tinge Floral - this whimsical creation reminds us of spring at it's peak. it's a beautiful medley using different shapes and sizes for a rounded, lush and full look is out of this world gorgeous! 

Tinge Floral - this whimsical creation reminds us of spring at it's peak. it's a beautiful medley using different shapes and sizes for a rounded, lush and full look is out of this world gorgeous! 


 
 Sammy Go Lambert - this compote vase arrangement makes me feel like a little girl running through a wild field of flowers at the end of summer as the sun is setting. such a unique use of height variation and at random points. It has a perfect resemblance to a wild field of flowers.  

Sammy Go Lambert - this compote vase arrangement makes me feel like a little girl running through a wild field of flowers at the end of summer as the sun is setting. such a unique use of height variation and at random points. It has a perfect resemblance to a wild field of flowers.  

 Nicolette Camille Floral Design - this medley is a combination of the sweetest neutrals. we absolutely love the over-sized dahlia as the focal point with soft and warm shades of green intertwined on the outer layers. 

Nicolette Camille Floral Design - this medley is a combination of the sweetest neutrals. we absolutely love the over-sized dahlia as the focal point with soft and warm shades of green intertwined on the outer layers. 


 Bows & Arrows Flowers - this compote vase has a completely different vibe and beauty about it. we absolutely love all the pinks and lush greens. it's so pretty for a spring soirée with tons of rosé (counting down the days until winter is over!) 

Bows & Arrows Flowers - this compote vase has a completely different vibe and beauty about it. we absolutely love all the pinks and lush greens. it's so pretty for a spring soirée with tons of rosé (counting down the days until winter is over!) 


 Jill Gaynor Floral Design - Jill holds a special place in our heart, we've collaborated with her a few times and it's always been a design heaven. this gorgeous bouquet she designed is a perfect reflection of her unique expression on blending color and shapes. she always pays close consideration to the vessel as the first step to designing her arrangements, and boy did this one hit the mark! we absolutely love the concrete and copper combination. it ties beautifully with the burnt orange leaves and flowers, le sigh, flowers are just so damn beautiful. 

Jill Gaynor Floral Design - Jill holds a special place in our heart, we've collaborated with her a few times and it's always been a design heaven. this gorgeous bouquet she designed is a perfect reflection of her unique expression on blending color and shapes. she always pays close consideration to the vessel as the first step to designing her arrangements, and boy did this one hit the mark! we absolutely love the concrete and copper combination. it ties beautifully with the burnt orange leaves and flowers, le sigh, flowers are just so damn beautiful. 

The earth is something we all have in common

Interior designers & architects alike are given the responsibility to create & build your home, packaging function, serenity & safety together to make it your sanctuary. With that goal in mind and understanding that the materials surrounding us translate most of the energy into a space, our teams hold the responsibility to research the origin of all materials and holistically consider their impact on the overall build & furnishings we select.  Whenever possible, we strive to ensure each input of material comes from a naturally sustainable, eco-friendly, local source to minimize its carbon footprint.  Second to materials, your lifestyle is the most impactful element of energy in your home, and thus we also help educate our clients on sustainable lifestyle changes that can improve the quality of your health & overall psyche in your personal space, while simultaneously throwing the earth a bone.  

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In honor of Earth Day today, when more than 1 billion people from 192 countries will mobilize to take part in the world's largest civic-focused day of action, we'd like to start this post by promoting reduction of waste and embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. We all need to take a step back from consumerization and think about how our desire for "more" is harming the environment. The Earth is something we all have in common as our collective home, and while the concept of moving to Mars may seem like an appealing alternative (some days I feel like signing up!), unfortunately for us, the reality is this Earth is all we've got right now, and thus we are all equally responsible for keeping it healthy. Start by donating things you don't truly need or haven't used/seen in over a year, and think twice about purchasing something new if it's more of a want than a need.  In the Shea household, we follow Marie Kondo's KonMari method and highly recommend it, since it helps open up space in your home for clarity and light (in both the physical and mental sense).  You'll be shocked at how much "stuff" you can purge when you take the time to hold an item and ask yourself, "does this bring me joy?"  If the answer is, "kind of" or "no," donate it or recycle it.  I promise you won't miss it.  Cultivating a minimalist way of life will open your mindfulness, and you'll see it becomes a daily practice in all facets of your life; you may even find yourself saying, "no thank you" to that plastic straw at a restaurant by the time you're done!  

While certainly not an exhaustive list, here's a few other things you can do to shift gears and live a more earth-conscience lifestyle: 

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- plant a tree or ivy (indoors) -

I know it may sound crazy, but don't be afraid of this idea! Even though a tree can grow to be 30 ft +, keep in mind it'll take years for your tree to get big enough to be an imposition on your day to day, so grow something indoors until your space can't contain it anymore. If the tree ends up getting too big, you can donate it to a school, garden or library or see if family/friends have interest in its adoption. There are countless opportunities to pay that tree forward, and it'll add so much life and happiness to your psyche in the meantime.  We have both a Southern Magnolia and Fiddle Leaf Fig in our little NYC apartment!  They keep the air clean & will bring a smile to your face each and every day.

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- Living Walls -

I'm so fond of these installations for their impeccable finished look when properly designed and all the good they do for the world. Beyond being a work of art, they're functionally proven to offset the problem of urban materials increasing temperatures, because plants don't store solar energy, they reflect it. As an added bonus, they also help filter pollutants and dust particles naturally (one less air filter needed!). Psychologically, the color green invokes a sense of harmony and calmness, and is a soothing addition to any space whether it be at work or in your home. Some may not favor this as much, but it's important for our overall ecosystem: Living walls create habitats for birds (when outside) and beneficial insects, which strengthens biodiversity in our communities. 

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A look at 1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.

- Paint -

Painting is an easy way to enhance your space in an impactful way without adding "more" to the planet, which is something we're approached about frequently. We love the application of any color on the light to dark spectrum, but we're a hard "no" when it comes to any paints that are not zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) interior paints. We have our preferred lineup of paint manufacturers that contain zero VOC, which our contractors use and we always recommend to our clients. Check out our top 4 zero-VOC paint brands: 

ECOS Paint

Benjamin Moore Premium Paints

Bioshield Paints

Valspar Invigorated Paint Line

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- Invest in quality furniture - 

When we're/you’re on the hunt for something new to layer into your home, keep longevity a top priority and think about investing in something lovingly made locally vs. mass-produced globally. By shopping with this mindset, you're contributing to the overall mission of reductionism and sustainability. It may cost a bit more up-front, but the makers producing at a smaller scale "as needed" vs. those producing poorly-constructed, mass-volume items that will ultimately end up in a landfill are the guys you want to purchase your pieces from.  Not only will your piece be of higher quality, contain the maker's handmade energy and last generations, but it's highly unlikely you'll have friends over who say "I have that same piece! Did you get it during the spring sale?!?" It's also important to have the conversation about wood that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified with your makers (most of these guys follow this practice by trade, by the way.) Forests provide us with oxygen, they filter pollutants and free radicals, and they certainly help mitigate global warming, so it's important that we follow responsible forestry practices to help our world. As the proverbial "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," you're receiving a product that has gone through a million quality checks to make sure it's perfect, the materials used were carefully curated to construct a state of the art piece (couch, console, tables, pillows etc.), and that maker likely did a happy dance when they received your order as you support the local economy.

Allied Maker

NAFCO Studio

Soil & Oak

Uhuru

BDDW

Crofthouse 

Estudio Persona

Mirena Kim Ceramics

- Water Filters vs. Plastic Water Bottles - 

Switching from plastic, bottled water to home water filtration is one of the most impactful steps to improving and protecting our planet. Adding this incredible system to your kitchen or wet bar is pretty easy as well; here's a how-to from This Old House. If you're renovating a home, make sure to consider a water purification system in your early-stage plans. It's seriously the most economical, convenient and effective way to give back and give yourself healthy, clean water. Of course it's not always feasible to add a system like this, so as an alternative, the tried and tested Brita or other filtered water pitcher is the next best thing, especially when combined with a S'well or similar insulated bottle.  To give you an idea of impact, if each person considered this or simply used a refillable water bottle from the tap, we could reduce the current consumption of 1500 plastic bottles per second to minimal numbers. It's a serious problem you guys; our oceans are drowning in our pollution (the "Pacific Garbage Patch" is now THREE times the size of France). In fact, Earth Day 2018's focus is specifically highlighting the enormous challenges we face directly related to plastic's impact on the planet's, and humans', ability to pull out of the hole we've created.  It's not too late, and each little decision we make respectively plays a part in our collective future.

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 We equipped our Soho loft with a water filtration system from California Faucets  

We equipped our Soho loft with a water filtration system from California Faucets  


In summary, here's a few options to start the shift towards a more "eco conscience" way of thinking & living: 

  • Use Zero VOC (volatile organize compounds) in construction and fabric materials
  • Source solid vs laminate products so they last
  • Install water filters when possible & pair with reusable water bottles (no plastic) 
  • Invest in quality furniture that is made from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) wood or other sustainably sourced, recycled materials
  • Plant trees in your home and consider living walls to embrace nature & its benefits

At the end of the day, every effort from a simple change in mindset to launching the next major initiative to help improve our environment is a step in the right direction, especially if we do it together. 

Happy Earth Day! Love our planet, it's our only home xx Becky

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    Our round up of beautiful spring tarts!


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    Dark Berries Tart with Basil

    for those of us who can't gluten

    DAIRY-FREE

    GLUTEN-FREE

    VEGAN

    FOR THE CAKE BASe:

    10 stoned Medjool dates

    150 g almonds

    60 g hazelnuts

    60 g sunflower seeds

    3 tbsp virgin coconut oil

    1/4 tsp sea salt

    FOR THE TOPPING:

    300 g blackberries

    300 g blueberries

    3 stems basil

    3 tbsp maple syrup

    1 tbsp lime juice

    150 ml coconut milk

    1 tbsp starch

    1 tsp agar-agar

    150 g blackberries to garnish

     

    Fresh Berry Mascarpone Tart

    For the base

    1½ cups all-purpose flour

    ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    9 tablespoons very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

    1 large egg yolk

    For the filling

    8 ounces mascarpone cheese

    ⅓ cup well-chilled heavy cream

    ¼ cup sugar

    1½ cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quatered

    1½ cups blueberries

    1½ cups blackberries

    2 tablespoons strawberry (or other berry) jam

    2 tablespoons dark berry liqueur, like crème de cassis

    Fresh mint leaves for garnish, optional

    directions

    Start by making the crust. Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse again until the butter is mixed in with some pea-sized pieces remaining. Whisk the yolk in a small bowl. Drizzle it into the food processor, a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. Continue processing in long pulses until the dough forms clumps and then comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    Grease a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before baking.

    When ready to bake, heat oven to 375º. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with nonstick spray and place, oil side down, firmly onto the crust. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and use the back of a spoon to gently press down the crust if it has puffed. Continue baking another 8 minutes, until the crust is firm and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

    To make the filling, combine the mascarpone, cream and sugar in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Transfer the mixture to the cooled shell and use a spatula to smooth it evenly. Refrigerate while preparing the berries.

    In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Combine the jam and berry liqueur in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Pour the mixture over the berries and gently toss to coat evenly. Mound the berries over the top of the mascarpone cream. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.

    The tart can be made a couple hours ahead of time and chilled. It’s best the day it’s made, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the last remaining slice the next day.

     

    Fresh Fig & lemon cream tart 

      Special Equipment:   a medium oven safe bowl (I used a Pyrex bowl from  this set )  an  8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom   a  quick-read digital thermometer   an  immersion blender  (or a regular blender works too!)      For the Brown Butter Tart Shell:   (makes one 8-inch tart)  6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter   3 tablespoons water  1 tablespoon grapeseed oil  1 tablespoon granulated sugar  a pinch of kosher salt  6 ounces all-purpose flour      For the Lemon Cream Filling and Fig Topping:   (makes enough for one 8-inch tart)  1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 fl. ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice  3 large eggs, at room temperature  1 large egg yolk, at room temperature  3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar  a pinch of kosher salt  1 cup (2 sticks // 8 ounces)  cold  unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes  1 pint ripe figs               

    Special Equipment:

    a medium oven safe bowl (I used a Pyrex bowl from this set)

    an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom

    a quick-read digital thermometer

    an immersion blender (or a regular blender works too!)

     

    For the Brown Butter Tart Shell:

    (makes one 8-inch tart)

    6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter 

    3 tablespoons water

    1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

    1 tablespoon granulated sugar

    a pinch of kosher salt

    6 ounces all-purpose flour

     

    For the Lemon Cream Filling and Fig Topping:

    (makes enough for one 8-inch tart)

    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 fl. ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice

    3 large eggs, at room temperature

    1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

    3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar

    a pinch of kosher salt

    1 cup (2 sticks // 8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

    1 pint ripe figs

     

     

     

     

     

     

    late summer tart

    for the base

    100g wholegrain flour
    100g desiccated coconut
    100g unsalted butter, melted
    60g coconut sugar or 40g unrefined cane sugar

    for the filling

    300ml double cream(cold) + 2-4 tablespoons
    250g mascarpone cheese
    icing sugar/maple syrup or any of your favourite sweetener to taste

    top with

    fig slices, blueberries, blackberries
    cinnamon
    maple syrup

    directions

    Preheat the oven to 180C.

    Mix the ingredients for the base and line the bottom of the 35cmx12cm tart tin using your fingertips.

    Bake for around 20  minutes. The tart will ‚swell’ a little bit so take it out and press the pastry back to it’s shape with the back of the spoon and put back it the oven for extra 5 minutes.

    Take it out the oven and let it cool down.

    In the meantime, whip the cream until it’s thick and creamy, add mascarpone cream and icing sugar to taste (you can also leave it unsweetened or add couple of spoonfuls maple syrup or any of your favorite sweetener). Add extra double cream in case it’s to thick and might feel difficult to spread.

    Spread the mascarpone mixture over the base and decorate with fruit. Pour over the maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon just before serving.

    Lemon Berry mascarpone tart

      For the Crust:   2 cups all purpose flour  1/4 teaspoon salt  1 cup unsalted butter, softened  1/2 cup powdered sugar  1 teaspoon vanilla extract   For the Filling:   1 pound mascarpone cheese (about 2 cups)  1/4 cup powdered sugar  1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice  1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (plus more for garnish)  1 teaspoon vanilla extract  1 pound fresh berries, washed, hulled, and sliced as desired   DIRECTIONS:   To prepare the crust, whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, using a standing mixer or electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture on low speed until just incorporated, being careful to not over mix. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Once the dough has chilled, press the dough into the tart pan and up the sides. Use a knife to score the edges and make them even at the top. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to lightly brown. If it has puffed up a little during baking, just gently press it down when you remove from oven. Cool completely in pan.  To prepare the filling, combine the mascarpone, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Spread mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with berries. Garnish with lemon zest.

    For the Crust:

    2 cups all purpose flour

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1 cup unsalted butter, softened

    1/2 cup powdered sugar

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    For the Filling:

    1 pound mascarpone cheese (about 2 cups)

    1/4 cup powdered sugar

    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (plus more for garnish)

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1 pound fresh berries, washed, hulled, and sliced as desired

    DIRECTIONS:

    To prepare the crust, whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, using a standing mixer or electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture on low speed until just incorporated, being careful to not over mix. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom.

    Once the dough has chilled, press the dough into the tart pan and up the sides. Use a knife to score the edges and make them even at the top. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to lightly brown. If it has puffed up a little during baking, just gently press it down when you remove from oven. Cool completely in pan.

    To prepare the filling, combine the mascarpone, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Spread mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with berries. Garnish with lemon zest.

     

    Orange and chocolate tart 

    for the base

    1 1/2 cups flour

    1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    9 tablespoons cold, cubed butter

    1 egg yolk

    Pastry Cream

    3 cups heavy cream

    3/4 cup sugar

    1/2 cup flour

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    8 egg yolks

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1 teaspoon lemon juice

    1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

    Extras

    2 large blood oranges

    3 large cara cara oranges

    2 navel oranges

    1 bar high-quality dark chocolate


    How to keep your house plants alive


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    1. identify your plant.

    this definitely seems like an easy responsibility but most ignore what the tags explaining the conditions your plant needs say. make sure you read the tag carefully and familiarize yourself with the plant’s requirements for sunlight and watering. we recommend doing additional research on the species so that you know what to expect at any given stage.


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    2. keep an eye on how your plant looks. 

    always check the soil before each watering. if the soil is still soaking after your last watering, you’ve drowned your poor plant but fear not, you can save it! it's important that you allow the soil to completely dry out before you water the plant again. once you've noticed or if you're just noticing that the soil is dry and crumbly, now it's time to water the plant until drops emerge from the drainage holes at the base. after that soaking, don't water the plant until you feel dry soil under the first layer. we stick our finger into the dirt and can tell if it's time for another watering based on the moisture.

    an important thing we may overlook is the growth your plant is undergoing. always check your plant for new leaves or branches. if your plant isn't producing new foliage, it's likely lacking light fertilization which will enable growth. there is also the chance you may need to repot your plant to allow the roots to grow if you've had it in the same container for an extended period of time. if you've been able to produce new growth (congratulations). if you've produced new growth and your leaves are looking thin and stretching towards the sun, your plant obviously needs more even sunlight. we recently learned that even growth requires rotating your plants a quarter turn weekly, who knew?!

    if there are brown spots on leaf tips, it's time to revisit your strategy and change your watering schedule and/or levels. the humidity in the area your plant sits could be too high or too low. if you've been over watering your plants, (accidentally) all that excess water will drown the roots and lead to rot and possibly even death (sorry for the dramatics, this is serious!) make sure to mist the leaves 2-3 times a week, it makes your plants so happy and keeps them fresh and green!


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    3. Know thy water.

    if you’re not over or under watering, it could be the water itself that’s the problem. tap water can contain excessive levels of chlorine, which is toxic to plants. try filtered water or collect rainwater in a bucket and use that to hydrate your plants. you can also put tap water in a bucket and set it out in the sun for a day to evaporate the chlorine and make the water safe for your plants.


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    4.location, location, location

    keep your plants away from very hot, cold or drafty areas in your home. if your plant is in direct sunlight and the leaves look dry, move the plant to a place in your home that receives indirect sun because leaves can get sunburned just like humans.

    make sure your planter is the right size for your little guy. if the pot’s soil looks crammed at the bottom, the roots are likely getting coiled and may be trying to escape through the drainage holes (escape artists!). these escape artists have been known to poke through the soil's surface, which is a key indicator it’s time to repot to give that bad boy more room to grow and spread it's little roots. we've always used containers that are roughly 2-4" wider and deeper than the original vessel the plant lived in. the first step to repotting is careful removal. place your plant on its side and pry it out with tender loving care. if the roots are coiled, pull them straight and prune if need be before repotting. place the plant in the new container and pour soil around the sides, then lightly water until the soil is moist, then give your plant a little mist, because who doesn't like a refresh after they've been pinched, poked and probed.


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    5. Tender, loving care

    always make sure that your plants look and feel happy. check your plant while watering for pests or dust build-up on its leaves. if you find pests (mealybugs are one persistent variety and we've sadly had them ourselves) there's a few methods you can try, one of them is placing the plant in the shower and using your shower head to wash off the bugs. we also recommend washing one leaf at a time separately with a gentle micro fiber cloth. we recommend putting a little neem oil on a q-tip and sponging it on the front and backs of each leaf. for dust, you can use q-tips or paintbrushes to remove any unnecessary residuals to keep your plants breathing and happy inside your home!


    How to craft up the perfect charcuterie spread

    charcuterie boards have become a staple at chez de shea. whenever we have company or decide to have a romantic evening at home, you bet there will be one heck of a spread. we love putting together a medley of different cheeses, meats, spreads, breads, crackers, honey, nuts, veggies, fresh seasonal fruits and dried fruits. after years of many nights at home and company coming over, we like to think we've perfected our strategy, and it's sort of become an art form for us. from the board it sits on, to the selection of each ingredient, we carefully construct our board layer by layer.

    we're going to share some of our favorite cheeses, brands of delicious spreads and honey, crackers and boards so curating your charcuterie spread is a real treat! (no pun intended)

    first, let's get started with the board, since, after all, this is our stage, and it will set the tone.  we tend to gravitate towards dark, dramatic backdrops. you'll often find our spreads on beautiful, rich walnut or acacia wood boards, as well as slate. we have an affinity to dark pigmentation, since we feel it accentuates the food like no other palette can. here are our top three boards to give your guests, and yourself, that boost of aesthetic delight that helps the whole package come together in a memorable fashion:

     Homenature always has a way to make the ordinary look extraordinary. This teak cutting board is one of those moments! This one is great for any season and can definitely hold a heavy load with it's massive size.

    Homenature always has a way to make the ordinary look extraordinary. This teak cutting board is one of those moments! This one is great for any season and can definitely hold a heavy load with it's massive size.

     Brooklyn Slate Company knows how to rock the charcuterie train like it's nobodies business. They have an asbolutely beautiful assortment of slate in different shapes and sizes!

    Brooklyn Slate Company knows how to rock the charcuterie train like it's nobodies business. They have an asbolutely beautiful assortment of slate in different shapes and sizes!

     We love this live edge walnut board from Farmhouse Pottery. It has so much depth and character, and the richness of the wood definitely compliments those light-colored cheeses and dark-pigmented fruits. 

    We love this live edge walnut board from Farmhouse Pottery. It has so much depth and character, and the richness of the wood definitely compliments those light-colored cheeses and dark-pigmented fruits. 


    now that you've picked out your board, let's dive into the lineup. we found this extremely helpful little diagram on pinterest, which includes some of our favorite cheeses and meats, and thought you guys may find it handy too! you can always alternate based on your palette, but blending sharp, creamy, soft, and mild cheeses will hit the mark for a number of folks. when it comes to fruits, it's all based on the bounty the season provides. figs are definitely one of our favorites, so when those summer months roll in, those little guys automatically become a staple. not only are figs absolutely delicious and high in fiber along with a number of essential minerals like calcium and potassium, but they're drop dead gorgeous! we don't like to exclude anyone, so let's not forget blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and apples, all of which add a layer of color, dimension and sweetness to the palette, not to mention more raw vitamins and minerals. when it comes to spreads, we're pretty biased. we cannot live without truffle honey, simply put.  we know once you try it, especially the magic our friends at Truffleist have created, we know you won't be able to make another charcuterie board without this rock star in the mix. also, be sure to include all natural spreadable jams like this and this, both by St. Dalfour, which pioneered spreads with zero added sugar. we keep this in a separate, smaller scale container to avoid getting jam on the cheese, meats, nuts etc. different folks, different strokes.

    at this stage, you're probably antsy to start talking carbs. we always love including a fresh baguette from our local bakery, Parisi, in our beloved astoria, new york. before company arrives, preheat your oven to 200 degrees, and place your baguette in there for 3-5 minutes right before cutting/serving. guests will definitely enjoy the warm bread coupled with a spreadable cheese. we also love Mary's gluten free gone crackers and Absolutely gluten free crackers (cracked pepper and onion are our fav's). the fillers are your layers of nuts and garnishes. we always include raw cashews, almonds and pistachios for a little extra crunch and added protein with healthy fats and oils.

    tell us your method of styling and selecting all the right ingredients for a balanced charcuterie spread! we always love to hear what your favorites are and any new recommendations you can make to help us improve our love of dairy, carbs and meats!  

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     Blackberries

    Blackberries


     Fresh Sage - Beautiful Garnish! 

    Fresh Sage - Beautiful Garnish! 


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     Raspberries

    Raspberries


     Fresh Rosemary - Another stand out garnish to fill in the gaps. 

    Fresh Rosemary - Another stand out garnish to fill in the gaps. 


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     Figs

    Figs


     Fresh Pomegranate - The burst of red, and chewyness looks great and tastes delicious

    Fresh Pomegranate - The burst of red, and chewyness looks great and tastes delicious


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    Feast your eyes on these gorgeous spreads & allow inspiration to take over


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    Woodstock - not to be confused with the festival


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    This President's Day weekend we ventured off to a little known town with a big history and a population under 6,000 residents in upstate New York to soak up nature, a little peace, pause & quiet with a dose of giggles & memories with two of our closest friends. We were lucky to see, taste & do a few hipster activities while there, which we've curated for you guys here! 

     Josh & Molly

    Josh & Molly

     Jake & I

    Jake & I

    To start, our Airbnb was ridiculously cute & comfortable! Her name was Ophelia (not kidding, like a lumineers EP or something). All that research, teamwork & curation certainly paid off. It was the perfect space for two couples (or a family with a child) to hang out, make dinner, watch movies, nap by the fire, hike the grounds or build a snowman. We literally did all of the above. We also ate our body weight in cheese, molly's morsels (our very own Molly's recipe, which is easy & simple. We'll snag it from her and post about it later!), turkey balls with a coconut, ginger, lemongrass broth, garbanzo & kale salad and a slew of other things which filled us to the brim. The only way to manage the over-indulgence was to nap it off. #adulting

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    This is the cozy sitting room we spent a lot of time in hanging around the fire. Morning coffee, afternoon wine & pre-dinner gin & tonics all fit in perfectly in this setting. 

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    The kitchen was definitely a focal point throughout the weekend & very functional might I add. It had all the bells & whistles you need for breakfast, lunch & dinner, and came equipped with a Bertazzoni stove, extra wine storage, french press + coffee maker and a look-out point. 

     The Band's "Stage Fright" Album Art 

    The Band's "Stage Fright" Album Art 

    Equipped with two bedrooms, one large open bathroom, a sun drenched dining room, sitting room, TV room (also where The Band shot the sleeve cover for "Stage Fright" above!), look out point, vaulted ceilings, beautiful grounds, pre-cut wood & an amazing host. Highly recommend you guys check this place out! 

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     Snowman - Conceptualized & Built by Jake & Josh 

    Snowman - Conceptualized & Built by Jake & Josh 

     Dining Room - Drenched in sunlight & cutie-pie bar cart included 

    Dining Room - Drenched in sunlight & cutie-pie bar cart included 


     Oriole 9 

    Oriole 9 

     Oriole 9 - Bloodmary 

    Oriole 9 - Bloodmary 

    So many food options! Here's our list of breakfast, lunch, dinner & grocery options:

    • Oriole 9 - great service, charming spot & in the heart of Woodstock. I had the avocado, arugula, truffle-oil & poached egg toast (very millennial) with a glass of fresh squeezed OJ. AMAZE
    • Phoenicia Diner - this diner feels like a Brooklyn transplant from the 70's in the middle of the country. It's way cool & the food is delicious. I had the tuna melt on gluten free bread (yes!! they have GF bread! I was finally able to eat a damn sandwich in an establishment.) I paired my sandwich with a bloody mary that had the perfect balance of spice 
    • Bread Alone - Delicious Almond-milk cappuccino & from what I understand yummy (un-gluten free) treats 
    • Woodstock Meats - though not a restaurant, this place had everything you needed to make dinner at home! We bought ground turkey & made turkey balls in coconut broth which was the perfect comfort food for a snowy night in. 
    • Sunflower Natural Food Market - This local grocer filled in the gaps for breakfast foods & our side dishes for our homemade dinner. They had the freshest veggies, local cheeses, granola & every other hipster treat you can imagine. Highly recommend. 
    • Bear Cafe - We ate dinner here on our last night. The food was pretty damn good, but the service, not so great. It may have been a really busy night but the experience didn't leave us wanting to return. 
    • Alcohol - Partition Street Wineshop in Saugerties (20 minutes east of Woodstock) is where we picked up our loot. We snagged some Barrhill gin from VT. Each batch is distilled in their custom-built botanical extraction stills. It has a juniper-forward taste and they've figured out the perfect balance by using raw honey. Does anyone feel like summer yet? Cue up the VT gin & juice
     At home breakfast 

    At home breakfast 

     Phoenicia Diner

    Phoenicia Diner


     Pacama Handmade 

    Pacama Handmade 

     Pacama Handmade

    Pacama Handmade

    Places to see! 

    • Pacama Handmade - Holy Cannoli, this husband and wife team is legit. Their craft is clean, minimal & utilitarian. I loved everything about their showroom, energy & creations. I cannot wait to use one of their products in our projects. It's now a legit mission! 
    • Vintage - Honestly, this place is the mecca of all things renewable & repurposed. There are too many to name but Saugerties Furniture Market was definitely my favorite. That's where I spotted these rounded, high-pitch, rattan chairs & Turkish rug. I wish we had the space for these or maybe even a beach house to squeeze them into... just sayin' 
    • Drive through the Catskills - we went off the beaten path a few times & landed ourselves on some pretty gorgeous scenery. From rivers, streams to lush forests pushing their green through, it was a breath of fresh air to see the country. We tend to lose sight of how wonderful life is outside our NYC bubble, so it was great to explore & stumble on these types of settings.
     Saugerties Furniture Market

    Saugerties Furniture Market

     Partition Street Wine Shop 

    Partition Street Wine Shop 

    It was so nice to finally take a minute for ourselves & our friends. It's a quintessential part of our personal & professional growth, especially in what we do. Being in a completely new setting, enriched by nature, a home that's an old build with modern essentials was something I definitely capitalized on towards our craft. Overall, it was a great weekend, and we could not have asked for a better turnout. We even got snow! What did you guys do during the long weekend? xo


    Garden to Table


     Our freshly clipped bouquet from our Air BnB stay in Venice Beach

    Our freshly clipped bouquet from our Air BnB stay in Venice Beach

    did you know that domestically, 75% of cut flowers are grown in california? internationally, the majority are imported from colombia or ecuador?

    but what about our own landscapes? why do so many of us neglect the beauty within our own back yard? is it fear of nature's little critters? or uncertainty on picking your own greens & blooms independently? is it limited resources? if the latter, we can relate. if you're an urban dweller like us and don't have the luxury of a back yard, it's hard to commit to such a thing. it wasn't until this year that we found solace via air bnbs in new locations. we had mobility for long-weekend getaways all summer and definitely took advantage. in the heart of venice beach, california, a few minutes from abott kinney, we've found a few home away from homes with backyards filled with vegetation.

    as firm believers in spontaneity and newness, this is the one place that has our heart and keeps us coming back. maybe it's the perfect temperature or the calmness of the ocean meeting the mountains. or maybe it's the versatile landscapes that make us feel so at home.  

    here we're sharing how to harvest garden greens in your or someone else's backyard, how to keep those fresh cuts living, and what a meaningful impression it can make to use what you have vs. going out and buying something pre-made.

     
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    What you'll need

    Tools

    Garden Scissors, Shears or Knives

    Jar or Vase

    Vessel of water for harvest  

    Ingredients  

    Height: Minimum of one ingredient should bare height to give your arrangement fullness

    Width: Leafy, Lushy, Filler's to widen and give an impression

    Depth: Consider texture with leafiness, branch, grasses and a splash of color if it's available

    Recipe Preparation

    after your early-morning cup of coffee is the most ideal time to cut fresh flowers, greens and grasses. the cool night air and morning dew fill the stems with water and carbohydrates. as the day goes on and temperates rise, nature's bounty slowly begins to dehydrate, which makes your lush cuts more prone to limp, bent necks or issues with recuperating during their in-vase life cycle. be sure to bring your vessel with water in hand so as to not waste a second without supplying your freshly cut bounty with water.

    cut your foliage at a 45 degree angle from the main stem, roughly one inch from the base. when you cut at an angle, it exposes your stems to uptake more water. we highly recommend removing any excess lower foliage to avoid bacterial growth, which will shorten your fresh cuts' lifespan, make the water murky, and may also produce a terrible smell.

    once you're ready to transfer your harvest into that gorgeous vase or jar, you'll want to consider one last step. contrary to popular belief, you actually want your water to be 100-110 degrees f for that initial pour. warm water molecules move quicker than cold and are absorbed by the foliage with much more ease.

    now that you've conditioned and prepared to give your fresh cuts longevity outside of the garden, it's time to arrange!

    1. the height of the flowers should be in proportion to the size of the container—that is, the height of the flowers should not exceed one and a half times the height of the container.

    2. the arrangement doesn't need to be symmetrical in any way or form. visualize nature in its truest form, allowing for each quadrant to fall in a natural direction.

    3. support the flowers to keep them in place. one simple approach is to use the flower stems themselves for support. by placing each flower into the container at an angle, you can form a grid or web that will hold the design together. the only flower that should be inserted straight up in the container is the center flower. this flower cannot stand without the support of the other flowers and should be placed in the container only when the grid has taken shape.

     
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    Some other tips to make your cut-flower arrangements last:

    Don't overcrowd the flowers in the container

    Check the water level in the vase daily and replenish it with fresh water frequently. flower food or a dash of sugar can help feed them for up to a week

    Flowers that go limp are not drinking well and need to be recut

    Always discard wilted blooms. they are only going to accelerate deteriorating other blooms!

    How to style your bookshelves so they look photoshoot ready


     Photo Capture By:  Claire Esparros  

    Photo Capture By: Claire Esparros 

     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield  

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield 

    As an interior design studio, we're often approached to tackle the task of styling shelves once our creations come to life. This is truly when we can wave our merchandising freak flag in the air and put our strength to practice. we love working in all types of scale, from open shelving in the kitchen to large format built-in's in the media room. We look at shelving as the perfect opportunity to tell your narrative through a display of warm layers and personality that offer a window into your greatest pursuits and passions. what many folks find challenging is how to balance utility and aesthetics without cluttering the space. we're going to walk you through the art of styling a shelf, one book and object at a time!  

     Photo Capture by:  Sean Litchfield

    Photo Capture by: Sean Litchfield


    step 1: Take it all off, clear that puppy up! no man left behind. Give it a nice dusting and wash. No one wants real estate on a dirty shelf.

    step 2: Organize your objects by shape and size on a nearby table or on the floor directly by your shelf. Organize the taller objects together, all the picture frames together and so on and so forth. This technique makes life so much easier when you finally hit the ground running. sometimes we take it as far as to color coordinate books into piles so we know what to reach for when needed.


     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield

    step 3: Before you add even a single book, start with a tall object, like a vase or large format picture frame. Adding the tallest object first helps establish the scale for all your other objects.

    step 4: Start layering in your beautiful books. we definitely suggest using books with decorative spines or covers in beautiful or monochromatic shades. grouping books is key. Always stack everything with the spine facing outward, working in a pyramid format with your largest book on the bottom and your smallest book at the top. or, you can group them by color for an extra-polished look from side to side. One thing to keep in mind: always steer clear of any worn down paperbacks or college textbooks - it doesn't quite fit in with your new sophisticated aesthetic.

    Here are a few of our favorite beautiful books:  Monochrome Home, The Kinfolk Home & Simplicity

     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield  

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield 


    step 5: Pick an object for each shelf that you feel has sentimental value or can make an impactful difference. These are the key items that you'll want to work around. a decorative box or tray, picture frames, potted plants, vases and objects should all do the trick.

    step 6: Fill out the space with smaller items like bud vases (or these & these) and mementos that can easily be changed. We believe in collecting a few transitional pieces that will give your home a seasonal refresher without having to reimagine an entire space. It's always nice to see something new every few months. but do keep in mind, you want to keep these seasonal refreshers in a safe and known place after you've put them away. After all, they're only on display for 1 of the 4 seasons!

    Now you're definitely a seasoned pro! we'd love to hear your thoughts and own unique spin on styling the perfect bookshelves in the comments below!

     Photo Capture By:  Sean Litchfield  

    Photo Capture By: Sean Litchfield 


    sweater weather, our top 5 this winter

    When it comes to purchasing behavior in the fashion world, versatility & practicality are the first priorities for me. i always ask the same four questions whenever I'm considering a new purchase... 

     Theory Cashmere Bicep Cinched Pullover 

    Theory Cashmere Bicep Cinched Pullover 

     

    1)  can i wear this with at least 5 existing articles of clothing in my closet?

    2) how many times will i REALLY wear this?

    3) is it practical for my lifestyle?

    4) can it be worn to work and a nice dinner?


    If i can answer "yes" to those questions, then chances are high that article of clothing is coming home to mama. the reason behind these four silly questions is part minimalism - i have enough going on in my day to day to have to worry about picking out my outfit - and partly that my job requires quality/durability/versatility, since we're on construction sites majority of the week. sometimes we have to meet with clients or for scheduled social time with friends, but a few hours earlier we were knee deep inside a recently demo'ed wall accessing the plumbing and electrical, so that's why question #4 is pretty important.

     
     Vince Double Layer Cashmere & Cotton Crew 

    Vince Double Layer Cashmere & Cotton Crew 

     Anthropologie Michael Stars Dolman-Sleeved pullover

    Anthropologie Michael Stars Dolman-Sleeved pullover

     Club Monaco Emma Ribbed Cashmere Sweater

    Club Monaco Emma Ribbed Cashmere Sweater

     Jenni Kayne Merino Puffy Crewneck Sweater 

    Jenni Kayne Merino Puffy Crewneck Sweater 

     

    Fashion isn't what you're wearing, but how you're wearing it. the simplicity of my style is at it's prime during autumn and winter - which is funny, because i loathe the latter. albeit absolute misery as the cold whips its way inside of my skeleton, the silver lining means i can rock a sweater like it's nobodies business. sweaters are one of those pieces that know how to mold to my tiny frame. i can wear them with ripped jeans, tight jeans, skirts and tailored pants. each wear could have a unique personality that still enables me to be comfortable, warm and versatile. for all you ladies out there thinking about your winter wear, here are my top 5 sweaters this season! 

    i definitely want to hear where you're shopping, as well as what you're wearing this winter! leave us a note in the comments! 

    Signature Cocktails to Curl up with in Winter

    jake and i spend most of the week at job sites, with clients, attending events, catching up with friends when we can (we all have crazy busy lives!), discussing and figuring out ways to improve and evolve our brand.  our weekends have become a time for us to pause on the fast-paced business dialog and shift gears to a more laid-back creative dialog which works really well when you're homebodies who love going grocery shopping.... don't laugh, i know all of you do too..

    we love these trips because each visit means we've dreamed up a delicious home-made meal or a unique, one of a kind craft cocktail, or BOTH! when it comes to our homemade delicacies, we go all the way to make it an experience  - garnishes, home-made simple syrups, x-large ice cubes and beautiful glassware. we put together a lineup of cocktails we both love and would love to make again if anyone wants to come over! 

    what's your approach to indulgence? do you take weekends to pause and tap your creativity?

     

    Spiced Pear Gin Fizz

     
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    Ingredients:

    Pear

    1 Egg white, large

    1 1/4 oz Lemon juice, fresh

    3/4 oz Spiced pear simple syrup

    2 Cardamom pods

    4 Star anise

    1 cup Sugar

    1 oz Club soda

    2 oz Gin

    1 cup Water

     

    DIRECTIONs:

    Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add gin, lemon juice, egg white, and Spiced Pear Simple Syrup (recipe follows) to cocktail shaker. Replace lid and shake for 15 seconds or until shaker becomes frosty. Strain into cocktail glass. Top with club soda, garnish with star anise, and serve.

     

    Fig & Thyme

     
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    ingredients:

    2 ripe figs, quartered

    1 ounce thyme simple syrup {see recipe below}

    1 1/2 ounces light rum {Downslope was my choice}

    1/4 ounce Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur

    1/4 ounce allspice dram {St. Elizabeth‘s or your own, recipe below}

    3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

    In a mixing tin, muddle the figs with the thyme simple syrup.

    Fill the tin with ice.

    Add the light rum, apricot liqueur, allspice dram, and lemon juice.

    Shake well and double strain into coupe glasses. Optionally, double strain into cocktail glasses filled with ice and top with a splash of seltzer.

    Garnish with a sprig of freshly cut thyme.

     

    directions:

    For the thyme simple syrup

    Add sugar and water to a small saucepan and stir on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, add thyme and let simmer for 10 minutes. 

    Remove thyme and pour into a heat-safe glass jar.  Let cool before using in your cocktail. This can be refrigerated for up to two weeks 

    For the cocktail

    Add the fig (quartered) and thyme simple syrup to the bottom of your mixing glass. Break up the pieces of fig by muddling lightly. If your fig is nice and ripe you probably won't even need a muddler. I used my barspoon! 

    Once muddled, you'll immediately notice the vibrant colors of the fig bleeding into your glass. Next, fill your mixing glass with ice, and add the remaining few ingredients. 

    Snap your shaking tin on top of your mixing glass and seal it into place with a firm whack with the palm of your hand. Give it a good shake for a full 10 seconds. Make sure you smile, especially if you're alone at home with your dog (like me)! 

    Crack open your shaker and double strain through a fine mesh strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme and half of a fig.

     

    Cinnamon Rosemary Old Fashioned

     
    89819cada41cbc7ed6712b4d1865c551.jpg
     

    Ingredients:

    Cinnamon Rosemary Simple Syrup

    1/2 cup honey

    1/2 cup water

    6 sprigs rosemary

    3 cinnamon sticks

    For the Cocktail

    4 teaspoons cinnamon rosemary simple syrup

    3 dashes angostura bitters

    2 ounces bourbon

    1 orange peel

    rosemary sprig for garnish optional

     

    directions: 

    Start with making the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, combine honey, water, rosemary sprigs, and cinnamon sticks over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently until honey has dissolved into water. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Once cool, remove rosemary and cinnamon sticks and transfer to an airtight container.

    When ready to make the cocktail, add 4 teaspoons of the cinnamon rosemary simple syrup and 3 dashes of bitters to an Old Fashioned glass. Swirl syrup and bitters around in glass. Add bourbon, ice, orange peel, and stir. Store extra simple syrup in airtight container in refrigerator. Enjoy!

     

    Honey Sage Gin Fizz

     
    sagehoney-15.jpg
     

    Ingredients: 

    3 ounces gin

    1/2 – 1 ounce honey sage syrup, depending on your desired level of sweetness (recipe below)

    1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

    5 ounces club soda

    fresh sage leaves for garnish


    Honey sage syrup:

    1/2 cup honey

    1/2 cup water

    5-6 fresh sage leaves 

     

    directions: 

     

    muddle sage leaves with gin, fresh lime joice and Homemade honey sage Syrup or other natural sweetener.

    Pour over ice, and add club soda.

    Stir and garnish with extra sage.

    Plum and Thyme Prosecco Smash

     
    Plum+and+Thyme+Prosecco+Smash-+My+Diary+of+Us.jpeg
     

    Ingredients:

    2 Plums

    6 Thyme Sprigs

    Juice from one Lemon

    4 Tbsp. Thyme Simple Syrup (1/2 Cup of Sugar, 1/2 Cup of Water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, add thyme sprigs, stir, and let cool.  Chill until ready to use.)

    1 Bottle of Prosecco or your favorite bubbly 

     

    Directions:

    Peel and chop 2 plums.  

    Muddle the plums with the thyme simple syrup and lemon juice until all of the plum juices have been released. Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker.Pour over crushed ice evenly between two glasses.Top off with Prosecco, and then garnish with extra plum slices and thyme sprigs. 

     

    Pear & Ginger Sage Champagne

     
    pear-sage-cocktails-3.jpg
     

    ingredients: 

    1 cup honey

    3 cups water

    2 whole pears, peeled, cored and diced

    1 large chunk of ginger, peeled and diced

    20 fresh sage leaves + additional for garnish

    1 bottle of your favorite champagne or sparkling wine

     

    directions: 

    In a saucepan combine the honey and water over medium heat and bring to a light boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved completely. Add the pears, ginger and sage leaves. Simmer until the mixture has reduced by 1/3. About 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for an additional 10 minutes.

    Strain the syrup into a large mason jar. Discard the ginger and sage leaves.

    To assemble the drinks place a few pieces of the cooked pear into each glass followed by 1-2 Tablespoons of the simple syrup. Add the champagne and enjoy.