Tuesday, April 29, 2014

7 Natural Ocean Approved Beauty Products To Make At Home

I'm so excited to finally share seven beauty products that are easy to make at home, derived from natural ingredients probably sitting in your pantry, save you money, work better than big brand names, and are all OCEAN APPROVED.
Ocean approved means these homemade beauty products contain non-toxic ingredients that don't harm waterways with polluting chemicals, and don't pose harm to marine life by contaminating their habitat with materials that don't decompose quickly.

You might be wondering how I got to be so interested in natural products...Last year I had really bad swelling in my ankles and the doctor couldn't figure out why - but wanted to give me strong medications anyway. This was really a wake-up call to research for myself how to heal my body naturally without having to fully rely on modern medicine at all times. Yes, modern medicine has its benefits, but sometimes our bodies rather eat-up the pure natural goodness it is has always instinctively known. In the end, a cucumber + water soak relived most of my ankle swelling and I just took one Advil a day.

I started making my own beauty products from natural ingredients and essential oils shortly afterwards to help combat my sensitive combination oily-dry type skin, constant daily blemish issues, and concerns I had about the side-effects of ingredients in mass-produced big brand name products I was using every day. If you share these same concerns, make an effort to dive in and start making beauty products from my recommended set below to make your way towards a clean and healthy body, while at the same time protecting the environment. I'll give you all the ingredients and steps to follow, explain environmental hazards of store bought products, and shopping tips to make your own products at home. Have fun knowing you're on the road to a richer body :) Please share tips or products that work best for you, because you never know who might also benefit from your advice and it could rock their world!

1. Brown Honey Oat Facial Scrub
Why you shouldn't buy at the store: Exfoliating scrubs that contain microbeads from brands like Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal, Proctor & Gamble, and Colgate-Palmoilve get washed down the drain and enter rivers, lakes, and oceans - currently there is no way for them to be cleaned out of the water. Yes that means your expensive Neutrogena/Clean & Clear bottle is on the list. The inability to clean the water is because very few water treatment facilities in the USA are able to trap them. Washing your face shouldn't be an act of pollution! Government officials have noticed an impact from microbeads smothering waterways, and this past year a profound movement has started in New York and California to ban microbeads and microplastics. These really small bits of plastic attract toxic compounds of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), flame retardants, and other non-biodegradable chemicals. On the label of your products from the store, look for the ingredients polyethylene and polypropylene aka for plastic microbeads...plastic as an ingredient to put on your face, ew. It actually causes acne. These bits of plastic and gulps of chemicals get mistakenly eaten by fish and turn their insides toxic which makes us all unable to eat them safely. *One bottle of facial scrub from the store contains at least 300,000 microbeads according to 5 Gyres! These plastic beads hinder treatment facilities, recreational and commercial fisheries, and waterfront real estate developments so DON'T BUY SCRUBS with any beads, just make your own or find safer brands like Burt's Bees Apricot and Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula!
Make Your Own, You'll Love It: Ladies, we know what an amazing feeling scrubs give our face. It feels smoother, removes dead skin cells, cleanses our pores, and gives off a shine. It's important to do this gently though so you don't aggravate your skin and then cause blocked pores. Below is my brown honey oat ocean approved facial scrub recipe to make at home that will leave your skin feeling cleansed, and adds the healing powers of a thin coat of honey to your skin. Brown sugar is more gentle on sensitive skin and helps deliver all the moisturizing ingredients and a protective barrier to your skin instead of taking it away like plastic microbeads do. You can find cute functional glass containers with wooden spoons like the one I used at Hobby Lobby. These are great for easy washing once you finish the scrub, and can be used over and over again!

Ingredients - makes 3 jars
* Pinch of jojoba oil and vitamin E/aloe vera oil (my measuring spoon actually says a pinch)
* 3 drops tea tree essential oil
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* Sprinkle of old fashion oats
* Handful of dried rose petals
* 1 TBSP coconut oil
* 2 TBSP raw local honey

1. Mix jojoba oil, vitamin E/aloe vera oil, tea tree essential oil, and coconut oil together in a mixing bowl.
2. Grind in a separate bowl old fashion oats and dried rose petals into small pieces. Then add to the other bowl.
3. Add brown sugar and then raw honey. Mix everything together thoroughly.
4. Scoop ingredients into glass containers.
5. A little scoop goes a long way! Just wet your face and gently massage in an upward circular motion. Rinse with warm water and dab dry with a wash cloth.You should be able to notice the smoothness and a hint coat of honey that has added a layer to protect and heal your skin. Feels SO good!

2. Natural Deodorant 
Why you shouldn't buy at the store: I had been using store-bought deodorant/antiperspirant since I was a young teen - then quit using and buying them in 2013 after reports linked the increased possibility of breast cancer in men and women to the aluminum-based ingredient that prevents your skin from sweating. Preventing this from happening is an unnatural thing to make your body do and disrupts your hormone levels. What's going on under your arm if hardly any sweat or order is being released? Well, it's being stored up in your body and masked. Other ingredients to look out for in store bought brands are triclosan, triclocarban, and parabens which are used to combat odor and bacteria. You can also find those ingredients in antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, and makeup. Just like the effect from toxic chemicals in microbeads, triclosan and triclocarban are wiping out marine life by polluting waterways. Why take the chance of getting cancer, or building up toxins in your armpits? Just make your own. You can buy safer brands at the store like Tom's Deodorant made right here in Maine, USA, but they're a little more expensive. Out ways the bad long-term effects though!
Make Your Own, You'll Love It: You might be thinking I am crazy to tell you it is possible to ditch your store-bought deodorant/antiperspirant forever, but you can! I've been using my all-natural deodorant for 1.5 years now and would never turn back to store bought. I had a lot of hesitation and worry before I made the switch, which is normal, because o my gosh I didn't want to stink!! When you start using your homemade deodorant, you will HAVE TO allow your body to detox for 2-3wks at least. Remember all the chemicals you were putting on your skin to prevent sweating and odor?...all that must come out of your body now! Once your body adjusts, you will feel more confident about the change so don't give up. Below is my summer time ocean approved deodorant recipe to make at home that smells heavenly, but you can't eat it sorry :) These ingredients are perfect for anyone who has sensitive skin, but any skin type can certainly use it. Coconut oil kills bacteria, arrowroot powder absorbs moister, baking soda neutralizes odor, and all the essential oils help protect your skin from toxins. This recipe has not left any stains on my clothes. You can purchase empty deodorant tubes off Amazon usually in packs of five tubes for really cheap if you get the white ones. When you use up all your natural deodorant, don't throw away the container like you used to do with store bought ones! Put them in hot soapy water and clean them out to reuse in the next batch of deodorant you'll make.

Ingredients - makes 2.5 tubes
* 1/2 cup coconut oil
* 1/2 cup baking soda
* 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
* 3 TBSP organic beeswax pellets or shavings (buy local if you can) Use 2 TBSP during the fall/winter
* 10 drops lemon, lavender, and tea tree essential oils

1. Put coconut oil, baking soda, beeswax, and arrowroot powder into a small pot on the stove with low/medium heat until it becomes liquid. Mix using only a wooden spoon (plastic spoon as a last resort). If you need the deodorant more solid, just add more organic beeswax and arrowroot powder as needed.
2. Once a liquid and traces of powder are gone, turn off the stove and quickly pour in essential oils and mix thoroughly. This mix has to stay warm so you have enough time before it cools to transfer over to the tubes.
3.While still hot and liquidy, transfer the mix from the pot to a measuring glass to pour immediately into the deodorant containers.
4. Tubes should cool for at least two hours before using. You can put them in the fridge if you want to speed up time, but be careful not to spill.
5. Store at room temperature. I prefer to apply from my finger so I don't use or warm the deodorant too much where it gets to be a mess, but you can apply however you'd like. Clean the house, go to work, visit family, workout at the gym - do what you normally do during the detox time to allow the built-up toxins to come out.   

3. Grapefruit Chapstick / Lip Balm
Why you shouldn't buy at the store: There is absolutely nothing good about any of the major brands you probably buy, here's why: Petrolatum, Padimate O, Lanolin, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, and Mineral oil. These all are toxic preservatives, disrupt hormones, damage the immune system, and all link to being carcinogenic and can possibly carry an increased cancer risk. Better check that Petroleum Jelly and Vaseline container sitting in your purse, because yup there's crude manufactured oil in them, yuck! We also love to buy lip products that have colors reflecting our style, but turns out artificial coloring, lead, aluminum, and other heavy metals that can irritate and even dry out your lips instead of hydrating them. They also irritate the environmental habitats via runoff water that has those toxic ingredients in them, which causes contaminated marine and plant life. Whether you realize it or not, you ingest whatever you put on your lips when the skin absorbs or if you lick your lips. Who would want lead, manufactured crude oil, and heavy metals in their body?? Not me! You can buy safer brands like Burt's Bees lip balm, but even they won't even compare to homemade chapstick using 100% natural ingredients.     
Make Your Own, You'll Love It: If you find yourself constantly licking your lips even after you've put on store bought chapstick, or after an hour of application your lips are dry yet again - this is a red flag the ingredients in your chapstick, lip balm, lipstick, or whatever you use, are not only un-moisturizing your skin, but causing metals and chemicals to be absorbed thus causing more dryness. Ditch those products right now! You want a chapstick that's gong to constantly hydrate and protect your lips from toxins, and will last for at least half a day. Below is my grapefruit ocean approved chapstick recipe to make at home that will leave your lips full of hydrated goodness with the smell of sweet springtime grapefruit. Grapefruit essential oil will help slow the aging and degeneration of skin, give you an uplifting feeling, cleanse and protect your skin, and once absorbed by your skin it will provide antioxidents and help boost your immune system. Great stuff right!? If you want to use a different essential oil, the recipe remains the same, just switch out the essential oil you use. You can purchase empty chapstick tubes off Amazon usually in packs of ten tubes for really cheap if you get the white ones. When you use up your chapstick, don't throw away the tube like you used to do with store bought ones! Put it in hot soapy water and clean out to reuse in the next batch of chapstick you'll make.

Ingredients - makes 10 .15oz tubes
* 1 TBSP shea butter
* 1 TBSP virgin unrefined coconut oil
* 2 TBSP olive oil
* 2 TBSP organic beeswax pellets or shavings (buy local if you can)
* 20 drops grapefruit essential oil

1. In a small pot on the stove combine shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax. Heat on low/medium heat until all ingredients form a liquid. Stir frequently.
2. Once a liquid, turn off the stove and quickly pour the grapefruit essential oil in.
3. While still hot and liquidy, transfer the mix from the pot to a measuring glass to pour immediately into the chapstick tubes.
4. Tubes should cool for at least two hours before using. You can put the in the fridge if you want to speed up time, but be careful not to spill.

4. Detox Bath Soak
Why you shouldn't buy at the store: When talking about detoxing your body, stay on the side of caution and make your own complete bath soak. We're talking about getting rid of toxins from the air you've breathe, food eaten, medications taken over time, and drinks you've had, so this is important stuff here! Who knows what kind of preservative compounds or chemicals have been added to the all-in one bag you'd buy from the store. A big reason not to buy bath soaks from the store is artificial perfumes. What does that even mean?ha Since we don't know, don't take the chance of contaminating with water that will eventually make its way into the ocean. You can buy epsom salts from the store, just make sure you're buying from a quality brand that's selling PURE epsom salt (magnesium chloride).     
Make Your Own, You'll Love It: Sometimes we don't get the pleasure of living by the ocean soaking up magnesium, or eating foods that contain it, therefore we can become deficient. Epsom salt detox baths are a great way to replenish your body with magnesium chloride and draw out toxins. Your pores open up due to the heated water, cause you to sweat, and absorb the magnesium. Detox bath soaks destress you, promote oxygen circulation, help loosen muscle cramps, reduce inflammation, sooth headaches, and when paired with an essential oil like lavender, it can do much more! Over time, if your body does not detox itself, your immune systems is contaminated by all the built-up toxins and allows for disease or illness to take over. *If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I would instead use 1 cup regular pure real salt to provide your body more more minerals and to get the same benefits through a less intense salt. Always talk to your doctor first. Who doesn't want a spa experience in their own bathroom?! Close the door, make time for yourself. Play some relaxing music like sounds of nature, waterfalls, or ancient musical instruments to help you relax and be more aware of the detox process your body is going through. Throw some crushed dried rose petals or lavender pieces into your soak, you deserve it! Below is my detox ocean approved bath soak recipe to make at home. Use glass mason jars to help you store your detox bath soak ingredients. 

Ingredients - makes 1 mason jar
* 2 cups pure epsom salt (or regular pure real salt)
* 1 cup Arm & Hammer baking soda
* (optional): dried rose petals, dried lavender, one essential one of your choice

1. Drink at least one full glass of filtered water. Do not take this soak before or after showering, and especially not after you have shaved. Don't eat at least an hour before or after this bath. Better to soak at night when you're ready to go to bed since this will help relax you entirely. Get ready for the best sleep you've ever had :)
2. If you opt for an essential oil and luxury spa additions...in a bowl crush the rose petals or lavender into pieces. Add the salt and mix together. Then pour in 10-20 drops of your essential oil and mix thoroughly.
3. Fill your bath tub with water relatively very warm water. You want to be able to sweat for at least 20 minutes, so keep that in mind but don't let the water get super hot.
4. Pour the baking soda into the tub and mix within the water for about 3 minutes. Since you most likely don't have filtered water coming out of your faucet, this will help neutralize the chemicals in the water and help increase the flow of minerals into your body.
5. Pour in the salt and mix into the water.
6. Soak for 20 minutes. If you feel thirsty, drink more water. If you feel light headed, cool down the water and get out of the tub.
7. Drink at least one full glass of filtered water after you're done. If you want to apply lotion, only use an all-natural one. NO lotions with perfumes, dyes, or chemicals!
8. Start off detoxing once a week, then you can progress to every other day if you'd like.   

5. Alcohol-free Hand Sanitizer
Why you shouldn't buy at the store: Lets face it, Bath & Body Works is probably your favorite place to shop for lotions, hand sanitizers, air fresheners, etc. It used to be my favorite too, and I LOVED the smell of their anti-bacterial fresh picked strawberry scent - until I learned what really goes into making their products smell so good. Store bought hand sanitizers can contain at least 65% alcohol, microbeads, artificial perfumes and coloring, aminomethyl propanol, propylene glycol, retinyl palmitate, tocopheryl acetate, and many other foreign sounding ingredients that have up to a moderate overall health hazard concern listed in the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics database. They can harm your lungs, disrupt hormones, irritate your skin, and injure your eyes if you happen to touch them after using the hand sanitizer. Aside from all that nastiness you've been putting on yourself, you might be trashing the plastic containers instead of putting them into the recycling bin. All the above being really bad for the environment! Why not control what goes on your skin and upcycle/reuse plastic or glass bottles that are more functional?
Make Your Own, You'll Love It: If you have allergies, or are sensitive to strong smells, you've probably suffocated for a few seconds after applying store bought hand sanitizer to your hands...and then smell the good scent. You also probably had really dry skin afterwards. Lets change that! I chose the alcohol-free path because I read bacteria can actually become immune to alcohol based sanitizers, and I always had super dry hands after using store bought sanitizers. So I decided to put the popular thieves blend of essential oils said to be known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties to work minus the lemon essential oil because I knew I'd be outside a lot (lemon can be harsh on skin when in sunlight). *This doesn't substitute for washing your hands with soap, you still need to do that! Below is my alcohol-free ocean approved hand sanitizer recipe to make at home that will leave your hands smooth, clean, and with a hint of blended essential oils to combat toxins and germs. Upcycle an old bottle with a pump for easy application, or a spray bottle for taking in your car or purse. 

Ingredients - makes 1 12oz. bottle
* 6oz. water
* 2 TBSP 100% pure aloe vera gel
* 10 drops of rosemary, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and clove essential oils
* 20 drops grapefruit essential oil

1. Add water to the bottle first, followed by aloe vera gel. Mix together thoroughly.
2. Add all the essential oils. Screw on the pump and shake the bottle well to mix all the ingredients together.

6. Whipped Chocolate Rose Lotion 
Why you shouldn't buy at the store: Your skin starts absorbing whatever you put on it within seconds and moves it into your blood stream, so lotion is no exception. If something is entering my blood steam, you sure as heck better believe I'm gonna be applying products as naturally as possible! Store bought lotions by big brand names can have artificial colorants and perfumes, parabens, petrochemicals, and pthalates.  
These are toxic ingredients that can cause sperm damage, disrupt hormones, trigger allergies, and even cause headaches to be more prevalent. Not to mention these ingredients can also cause deformities and unnatural growth in marine life and contaminate plants and our waterways. For as many times as you probably use a lotion throughout the day, it's best to make sure you're actually helping your body nourish itself, rather than destroy it. 
Make Your Own, You'll Love It: Everything about making your own homemade lotion is AMAZING. You get so many benefits from using natural ingredients! Shea and cocoa butters help moisturize skin and have anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil helps block harmful UV rays and cleanse the skin, beeswax locks moister in place as a protective barrier against toxins, and essential oils give your skin the deeper rich nourishment it needs. Shea butter will even help stretch marks and scars! Is this not your perfect lotion already? Below is my whipped chocolate rose ocean approved lotion recipe to make at home that will have you hooked on homemade lotion for the rest of your life. Use glass mason jars to store your lotion, or you can find some cute functional glass jars at Hobby Lobby.

Ingredients - makes a 12oz. mason jar
* 1/2 cup coconut oil
* 1/3 cup shea butter
* 1/2 cocoa butter
* 1/2 cup almond oil
* 1 TSP vitamin E/aloe vera oil
* 1/2 cup beeswax pellets or shavings
* 20 drops rose essential oil

1. In a measuring glass put the coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, vitamin E/aloe vera oil, and beeswax. Melt in the microwave for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until all ingredients are melted and form a liquid.
2. Add the rose essential oil, and mix again.
3. Pour all ingredients into a mixing bowl large enough to use a handheld beater in. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or until mix is half way cooled.
4. Once cooled half way, mix with the handheld beater for a minute.
5. Scoop whipped lotion into a glass mason jar. A little goes a long way!

7. Lemon Lavender Goat's Milk Soap

Why you shouldn't buy at the store: I've always been cautious about which soap I use, Dove being my preferred brand from the store - but even they have ingredients that are super toxic. Look out for these ingredients commonly found in big name soaps that are actually nano-particles, pesticides, toxins, and can't effectively be removed from your liver: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, titanium dioxide, artificial fragrances, sodium chloride, stearic acid, sodium tallowate, sodium isethionate, sodium cocoate,...I mean the list just keeps going on and on...propylene glycol, tetrasodum EDTA, tetrasodium etidronate, disodium phosphate, BHT, triclosan, etc. Bad, bad, bad, for you. 'Soap' has some of the dirtiest (by dirty I mean toxic) ingredient lists I've seen so far. Just think how all the fish and marine life feel when they get all the backlash of our toxic daily routine being poured into their habitats! 'Soap' is such a huge culprit of contamination that's overlooked by many. Just like many of the toxic ingredients you've read about so far, these ingredients can actually dry your skin instead of moisturizing and healing it. Plus, you can even get a thin white film of 'soap' stuck to your skin even after showering. Gross. So why am I saying 'soap'? Because what you're buying at the store isn't soap; it's a manufactured mix of toxins and detergents made via a lot of chemical reactions tied with a big red marketing bow. Soap is made with natural ingredients like they used to do back in the day, most popular via a chemical reaction with lye and water. What actually cleans in soap are the ingredients which help heal skin rather than over dry it. Companies now a days have to abide by certain laws that prevent them from selling a product with the word 'soap' if it contains detergents. That's why you are enticed by 'soaps' called beauty bars, exfoliating bars, anti-aging bars, bath bars, etc. So basically they've found a way to get you to buy junk while they save money on cheap ingredients and make a profit. Greedy aren't they, and they're making you suffer for their own gain!
Make Your Own, You'll Love It: Lots of people make their own soap using the traditional lye and water recipe - but that scares me :) It still has a chemical reaction you have to make in order to produce the final soap ingredient. So I chose a safer route by using butters, essential oils, and a Bramble Berry goat's milk soap base that help protect and moisturize the skin. Look no further than Bramble Berry for your goat's milk soap base, even Amazon can't beat them; trust me I looked. They have THE BEST base for your money and the best ingredients! The base I chose is made with 10% creamy real goat's milk plus other safe ingredients (the only one I have an issue with is titanium dioxide, which I feel isn't necessary but couldn't avoid). Goats milk is historically known for its ability to break down dead skin cells, anti-aging acids, reducing inflammation, nourishing vitamins and nutrients, and has anti-bacteria properties that battle acne! Below is my lemon lavender ocean approved goat's milk soap recipe to make at home that when paired with dried lavender and rosemary, essential oils and butters will create a homemade luxury soap your skin will absolutely love. Store unused soaps in a container with a lid.  

Ingredients - depending on your soap molds, this makes about 8 soaps
* 2lbs. Bramble Berry goat's milk melt and pour soap base
* Handful dried lavender, old fashioned oats, and rosemary leaves
* 1 TSP cocoa butter, coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, and vitamin E/aloe vera oil
* 5 drops lemon and lavender essential oils

1. Cut up and put 1 lb of the soap base into a measuring glass. Heat in the microwave for 30 second intervals until completely melted. Add the other 1 lb if you want to make a bigger batch.
2. Grind a handful of dried lavender, old fashioned oats, and rosemary leaves into small pieces and then pour into the soap mix.
3. Add the lemon and lavender essential oils, and mix thoroughly.
4. Lightly sprinkle a pinch of dried lavender, old fashioned oats, and rosemary leaves into the bottom of your soap molds so that these ingredients are visible once the soap cools down.
5. Pour the soap mix into your molds. If you want to add in jute rope like I did, cut a small amount and tie the ends together with a wire. Set the two ends into the soap mix so that they become hardened within it. Allow the soap mix to cool down for at least 2 hours or more until fully solid and dry.
6. Push the soap out of the molds and onto parchment paper for further drying.
7. When ready to use remember, it's the ingredients that clean you not the suds! Don't expect suds to flow out like your store bought brand did. Wet the soap and rub a couple times on your skin. When finished, pat your skin gently with a towel. You should be able to tell a difference between your store bought 'soap' and your new homemade treasure!

Wow, so this is a lot of information about natural ocean approved beauty products - but this is just the beginning! There are so many other natural beauty recipes out there that work better than store bought brands and that keep the environments around us clean and safe. Every day the choices you make for your daily routine, have a side-effect in the environment and on your overall long-term health. Making the switch to more natural homemade products will give you so much more than you've ever thought possible in regards to taking control of what you put into your body, and out to the ocean.

Pin this post for safe keeping to refer back to when you're ready to try a new recipe! Share with your friends and family to encourage them to also be informed on the hazards of store bought beauty products. You can never be too careful when it comes to your health. Enjoy the road to a rich body! Would love to know how you like these recipes :)

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic! 

Monday, April 14, 2014


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mystic Knotwork.

This past weekend I got to put my tablescape styling and cooking skills to the test for a pre-Easter dinner with family. A week before any holiday is always a great time to test out any first-time dishes you haven't made before just in case a few tweaks are needed to be made to recipes. Doing this will also help you figure out just how long you'll be in the kitchen cooking so you know how much time you'll have left to get yourself ready before guests arrive!ha

I don't cook that often, but when I do, I head to my Food Favs Pinterest board! Great way to pair drinks, sides, entrees, and desserts together before hand. I wanted a light meal paired with a nice glass of wine, so immediately thought of doing a fish. Orange roughy has been a family favorite for many years because it's not a fishy tasting meat, it's light, and you can season it any way you want and it still comes out perfect. I decided to bake instead of fry the fish so I could marinate and add in a bottom layer of organic garlic lemon basil sauce to keep the flavor. For the sides, I steamed fresh broccoli and chopped carrots sprinkled with cheese and placed them on top of a scoop of white rice cooked in organic coconut oil. For the drinks, everyone got a glass of water and a glass of white wine to compliment the fish...but not just any white wine. Let me HIGHLY recommend that if you're looking for a half light sparkling/half sweet wine to fancy up a meal, go buy a bottle of Paolo Saracco 2012 Moscato D'Asti imported from Italy and you will thank me forever. I had a glass of Luccio Moscato D'Asti wine at a high-end restaurant a month ago and Saracco is its twin at only $14 a bottle instead. I also found it quite funny that so many people were raving about Saracco on Pinterest, so that enticed me even more to try it out. Its not heavy on the stomach, which made it great to keep around for my brownie bottom cheesecake. YUM! I'm going to give you the recipes so you can also make this tasty meal yourself, so make sure to keep on reading.

With such a light but flavorful seafood meal made with a few organic ingredients here and there, what better tablescape styling to use than a dash of nautical blue over a sand colored stitched white tablecloth with driftwood, shells, palm crosses, yellow roses in cardstock bunny menus (you can get the printable here) and white hydrangeas! I used silver lined white china that had been passed down to me from my dad's parents, crystal glass water and wine glasses passed down to me by mom's parents, and my parent's silver utensils. Everything went together perfectly to use white, tan, and navy blue handcrafted turks head coasters from Mystic Knotwork. The coasters worked great for the glasses. Since they are made out of firm cotton cord, they didn't slide on the tablecloth and adjusted to the base of the glasses so they didn't tip. No spills! The coasters also came in handy when the water glasses were filled with ice and let off cold condensation. No white marks on our wood table! :) Two lucky readers will WIN a set (4 coasters) in the color of their choice, so keep reading to find out how to enter!

I always recommend Mystic Knotwork for nautical decor and gifts. Every product is so unique and made by a husband-wife team, Matt and Jill Beaudoin in Mystic, Connecticut, 100% American made! Their business holds on to a tradition that goes as far back as the 1930's when their family practiced knotworking as an art. As items became more popular after WWII, selling started a small business and pieces were even donated to the Smithsonian! Generation after generation, the appreciation and craftsmanship of knotworking was passed down eventually inspiring Matt and Jill to continue their family's legacy of traditional cord art. From colorful bracelets, coasters, entry door mats, wedding decor, keychains, and much more, Mystic Knotwork has continued to put a modern touch to historical form of art that never ceases to impress their customers. 

To keep things organized, you might want to make your menus first in case you forget what you'll be cooking. I saw a bunny printable on Pinterest that I liked so much I wrote my menu on top of it and printed them off on white cardstock paper. If you punch a hole in the bottom where the tail is you can stick a flower stem through it to give a 3D tail effect, which is pretty cool. I wanted my roses to stay alive for 6+ hours as I cooked, so I took a damp paper towel and wrapped the steam with it and covered it all with foil to keep the water cool. Worked like a charm. Plus, the foil helped keep the bunny menus standing by themselves when they were on the table. 

It was fun laying out the styled tablescape! It all turned out so good I was pretty excited for everyone to see it before dinner. A few close-ups before dinner below ;)

Now on to the food! I'm going to assume white rice and steamed broccoli and carrots are already in your cooking basics, so I'm going to share my recipes on how to make the orange roughy, Tuscan roasted potatoes, and the brownie bottom cheesecake. 3 FREE recipes for you!

First, lets start with the orange roughy dipped in garlic lemon basil sauce. The recipe is for 6 fillets.

1. In a small mixing bowl, put 2 TBSP olive oil, 2 TBSP dried basil, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 TSP lemon juice, and a quarter sized sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix it all up.
2. Pour the mix into a plastic bag and place the defrosted fillets in. Close the bag and cover the fillets with the mix.
3. Place the bag in the fridge for 2-4 hours to marinate.
4. In a glass baking dish, cover the bottom entirely with a thin layer of olive oil.
5. Take out the fillets and pour everything into the dish.
6. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the fillets are fully cooked and flaky.
7. Spread freshly chopped Italian parsley on top of each fillet and top with a slice of lemon per fillet.

So easy right?! It'll taste amazing.

Second up, the Tuscan roasted potatoes. This recipe can feed up to 7 people.

1. Wash and cut 8 red potatoes into 1'' pieces and place inside a plastic bag.
2. In a small mixing bowl, put 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, 1 TBSP paprika, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 TBSP ground black pepper, 1 TBSP ground sea salt, and 2 TBSP olive oil. Mix it all up.
3. Pour the mix into the plastic bag of potatoes. Close the bag and cover the pieces with the mix.
4. Place the bag in the fridge for 1-2 hours to marinate.
5. In a glass baking dish, cover the bottom entirely with a thin layer of olive oil.
6. Take out the potatoes and pour everything into the dish evenly.
7. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 60 minutes total, taking out and turning the potatoes every 15 minutes so all the pieces cook.

The blend of spices in this recipe is what makes it taste so good!

And we save the best for last! The brownie bottom cheesecake will impress even the avid cheesecake lover like myself. This was my first time making it, and it was devoured and seconds were in order.ha 

1. In a 13x9'' foil baking pan, put a layer of butter and flour on the edges before pouring in Hershey's Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Mix as directed for the pan size.
2. Cook as directed in the oven at 350 degrees for 47 minutes. Then let cool for 10 minutes.
3. To make the cheesecake, in a small mixing bowl put 16 oz. cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 TSP vanilla extract, 1/2 cup sour cream. Mix it all up with an electric whisk beater so no lumps of cheese remain.
4. Pour on top of the cooked brownie in an even layer.
5. Place in the oven at 325 degrees for 35 minutes until the edges start to brown.
6. Put the pan in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight to set.
7. Take the brownie bottom cheesecake out of the pan by pressing down on the pan edges and it lifting up. Since you used butter and flour before baking, you should be able to take it without hardly any sticking to the pan.
8. Cut into square pieces and top with a strawberry slice when ready to serve.

So there you have it! 3 recipes sure to impress during any gathering. A few captures of the finished meal before nothing was left ;) The key is presentation though. If you decide to serve each plate separately instead of buffet style, place in order on the plate: white rice, steamed brocolli and carrots, orange roughy dipped in garlic lemon basil sauce topped with a lemon - then on the side put a portion of the Tuscan roasted potatoes.

After dinner everyone got to choose one colored Mystic Knotwork coaster to keep! Even the puppy wanted to see what they were all about.haha Now for the part you all have been waiting for, the Mystic Knotwork GIVEAWAY!

2 WINNERS will be chosen to win a set of nautical turks head coasters in the color they'd like! Each set comes with four handcrafted coasters in a bag. With 13 colors to choose from, your favorite color is bound to be in the pile!

MYSTIC KNOTWORK COASTER SET - in your color choice!
Choose the coaster set (4 coasters) that best matches your home or event style!

To enter, leave a comment on which COLORED NAUTICAL TURKS HEAD COASTER SET OF 4 you would select. Two winners will be chosen by random.org and announced on 4/18/14. Leave your email address so we can contact you if you win!



Good luck!

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coastal Snail Mail At The ArtSea Chic Desk

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Beach Grass.

It's not often you get to see where I sit down every time I write, so I'm giving you all a little peek at where all the ArtSea Chic waves roll in from ;) I've tried the professional looking desk, but nothing feels more like home than my 10+ year old wooden desk I've had since I was a teen. Has a lot of character to it, simple texture, but detailed features. The best part is that is goes perfectly with all my coastal decor no matter what.

I have been blessed to have traveled quite a bit inside of the United States, mainly in the South and along the east coast. Never to the West though, maybe I'll check that milestone off my list in a few years. I've done the whole Cancun trip many years ago, wasn't too appealing from what I remember, but I did grab that awesome queen conch shell from a vendor boat. It's been sitting on my desk ever since gracing me with its beauty. Same goes for the near perfect sand dollar one of my friends gave me when he went snorkeling in the reefs. One of my top favorite places I've traveled is Sanibel Island in Florida. I like to look up from my writing every now and then to daydream at my keepsake postcard from my first stay at Ocean's Reach. My leather strap palm tote from Turkish-T by Sue Joyce helps put me on a stroll along their beach too. Such a magical place for any shell enthusiast. 

Every time I write a post for you all I am constantly inspired to give you something beneficial to use in your own lives, whether it be a DIY, unveiling a coastal small business' products, or sharing my experiences and important information on what's happening in our environment. A good portion of that motivation comes from what I surround myself with at my desk area. I'm a strong believer that minimal clutter makes you feel less stressed and more empowered to be successful and organized. If you surround yourself with decor that has a story, you'll feel great and be more inclined to become a part of that story by the way you live your life. This is one reason I'm a big small business supporter, they all have their own unique stories that makes them standout from the crowd. A reminder of that dedication and craftsmanship for me is Mystic Knotwork's monkey fist keychain I keep on my desk by my beeswax angel candle my uncle made for me by using leftover beeswax from his bee hive harvests at his farm in Pennsylvania. One of my favorite conservation and recycled decor pieces is the aqua Seasodie bottle fish from Beach Grass. This fish is actually handmade out of a 2-liter plastic soda bottle and fishing line instead of heading to a landfill. 25 cents of each Seasodie bottle fish sold is matched by Beach Grass and donated to MARC (Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center) at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. For me, this is a fantastic reminder that something as simple as a plastic bottle can be crafted into a beautiful piece of art - while at the same time helping fund the education university students get at MARC saving stranded and wounded marine mammals and sea turtles.

Did you notice my four leaf clover?? You can only imagine how ecstatic I was when I found it while working outside in my parents yard and immediately took it inside to dry out and preserve. It's been my good-luck charm ever since.

Sometimes we can get caught up in wanting the trendiest coastal decor to match a room. I've been there. But over the years I have learned less is more, quality over quantity, and think twice before you impulse buy anything. Major weakness of mine is anything from Pier 1 Imports. That's where I found that stunning velvet plush teal pillow...and bought three :) Getting my crafty hat on is something I have started to take more to heart. Trust me, you end up discovering you can actually make things you never thought you had the skill to do. Brings such a feeling of accomplishment. My most recent tutorial on how to make your own coastal succulent garden has opened my eyes to my inner green thumb I never really had. I can actually grow and propagate succulent plants! Part 2 of that tutorial will eventually land on the blog when all my succulent babies have grown more.

Two of my other desk favorites right now are Beach Grass' Bag of Summer and Vitamin Sea Candle. I never really got into the charm bracelet craze, the charms would always get in my way when writing or crafting, and I never really saw the point in collecting so many charms that the bracelet weighted more than a watch. Enter the Bag of Summer sold exclusively at Beach Grass...I'm totally in love with this super cute trend of collecting pocket charms for a mini Zen beach. Any day any time rearrange beachy charms in the dish with sand to tell your own beach story, with a reminder that 'It's always summer somewhere!'; a great gift alternative from the traditional charm bracelet.
In my hand right now is Beach Grass' exclusive pure soy candle called Vitamin Sea. Aside from the gorgeous aqua glass jar, this candle is like any other I have ever smelt before - seriously. If you're a candle collector that must have one burning in your home, I highly recommend giving Vitamin Sea a shot. You'll be hooked. I actually love the scent so much that I wish I could have lotion, shampoo, hand soap, etc in its fragrance :) Whenever I need a pick-me-up it's my go-to candle. The smell is a fresh lemon verbena, coconut, and a whole lot of made in the USA love right out of Maine. Makes me think of a fresh tropical morning breeze by the seaside. Grab a jar for yourself or a friend!

Gift From The Sea by Anne Lindbergh from Beach Grass' shop now has a place on my desk. It's such an inspirational little book with words of wisdom from Anne during a beach trip to Captiva Island in Florida (right by Sanibel Island!) in 1955. Even though this was written after WWII 59 years ago, her advise on life for both men and especially women in America is exceptional and to the point. She talks about love, marriage, inner peace and contentment, aging, women's roles, and how we all are connected to the sea in the ways we live out our lives. A couple fun little facts:
* Her book has sold more than 3 million copies, has been translated into 45 different languages, and was a non-fiction bestseller in 1955! 
*Anne was aviator Charles Lindbergh's wife. He was most famous for his solo flights across the Atlantic Ocean.
*Anne was the first woman to earn a first-class gliders pilot's license in 1930.

The last ArtSea Chic desk feature I want to share with you all is Beach Grass' PostQuote Collection of coastal inspired postcards. Sampling each of the 18 designs created by Beach Grass was so much fun, and perfect for National Letter Writing Month this April. Most forget this is even a national awareness campaign, I myself wasn't aware until I saw it on Facebook. The holiday essentially promotes literacy and the art history of letter writing through sending snail mail via postcards, greeting cards, and letters. With all the technology out there today that allows us to send and receive messages in minutes, at least I feel sometimes it can be such a wash and impersonal. We all like tangible things, keepsakes, a piece to look back at in our hands when we grow older that tells a story of our past, and letter writing provides us with just that. It's even better when using glossy postcards with a coastal edge that have a unique quote on the backs.

This is my favorite postcard quote :)

I do find it easier when postcards have a template already on them for mailing addresses so I know how much room I have to write before filling out the address information. Since Beach Grass' postcards didn't have a template already, I had a little fun with making my own template painted over in gold. I decided to get a head start on my Easter greetings to family, so gold matched the coastal colored back designs perfectly and gave it a little punch of shimmer and light. 

Unfortunately with postcards, if you don't put them in an envelope, people will see what you write and they will see your signature. With identity theft on the rise these days, you can never been too careful. On all my postcards I use a stamp that I've had since I was a teen that inspired how I normally write my signature, but isn't an exact match. I love my name stamp because it's simplistic yet elegant, and legible at the same time. These postcards will be shipped out by the end of today!

Hope you enjoyed my little desk tour and getting to see what inspires ArtSea Chic every day! Make sure to check out Beach Grass' shop for affordable coastal Easter basket stuffer gifts that tell a story.

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

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