Monday, April 14, 2014


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 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

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!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Galveston Bay Oil Spill Relief

Three weeks ago on March 22, two ships collided with each other in Galveston Bay's Houston Ship Channel off the coast of Texas that caused over 168,000 gallons of marine and fuel oil to spill into the water. Since then, thousands of responders have been scrambling to contain the oil from pushing further down the Texas coast into more wildlife habitats and our beaches. Unfortunately, tides and weather didn't help the situation much in the beginning, and oil spread further west. Over 1,000 birds have died a slow death, even some listed under the Endangered Species Act because of not being able to rid oil off their feathers, eyes, or bills, and eventually accidentally ingesting oil in contaminated water. What's really sad is that some of these birds native to the Arctic Circle area, were set to migrate back to their home after feeding off the Galveston coast - but now some won't make it even half way back. There is also a suspicion that 29 dead dolphins found in the Galveston Bay area might have been contaminated by oil.

With thousands of responders trying to cleanup oil and its aftermath, the United States Coast Guard has stepped in tremendously to help the situation by monitoring and organizing efforts to survey the coast, initiate volunteer efforts, and maintain routine checkups on cleaned areas. I wanted to take my environmental volunteering up a notch from last year's Adopt-A-Beach cleanup, so I applied to be a volunteer with the Galveston Bay Foundation. Thousands of volunteers poured in from around the state to help, but only about 949 people were pulled into a pool of candidates to help meet ongoing response needs. I was SO excited when I received word that Thursday I had been chosen to be a volunteer for that weekend on Saturday! So I packed up my rainboots, warm clothes, and drove five hours down to Galveston Island.

We got briefed by the United States Coast Guard on our assignment at 8:30AM, grabbed our badges, some water and snacks, and headed to the shuttles that would be dropping us off. Throughout our assignment, we were to report observations and findings of any fresh oil, tar balls, or dead marine life along a 26-mile stretch of beach between San Luis Pass and Stewart Beach. We split up into groups of seven and reported back to the Unified Command in coordination with the U.S Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, Central Texas Coastal Area Committee, and the city of Galveston who then sent response crews with proper training and equipment. I was really impressed by the organization of the volunteer efforts. Before we departed, everyone went around the room giving their 'media clip' in case we were asked what we were doing. Everyone who reported for volunteering on Saturday had a story of why they felt compelled to help in any way. From a local Galveston resident and fisher, to a teenage boyscout who wanted to be a marine biologist when he grew up, you could feel so much desire and determination in the room to help make things right by giving back to make sure our coastal communities would be safe.

When we got dropped off at the beach, instantly we noticed it was low tide, about 10 degrees colder, and very windy with overcast skies like it was going to rain. Luckily it stayed dry for us throughout the whole walk. For those of you who follow ArtSea Chic on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you might've noticed I was capturing some of the discoveries on the walk LIVE as we worked our way down the beach for a little over 3 miles.

My first creature find was this beautiful monarch butterfly just laying in a small pool of water with sand covering its wings :( It was still holding on, so I gently picked it up and brushed as lightly as I could the wet sand off its wings. I set it on some grass way over past the sand dunes so he would have more of a chance to recover. So sad to see a helpless situation; nature has its course - unless I step in ;)

For the first 30 minutes or so, we didn't find any dead birds or fresh oil/ tar balls...until we went a little further down, and they just started popping up little by little. Although we didn't see any fresh oil, which was a good sign, we found dozens of little tar balls that had been washed up on shore and found three dead birds that had signs of oil residue on their feathers.

Some of the local residents who seems to take regular morning strolls on the beach stopped to ask us what we were doing and if we could give them an update on the oil spill situation. This was great to see, because they are aware, getting informed, and care enough to walk up to random volunteers in red hats.haha I had two ladies who came up to me telling me about a few large tar balls they saw days prior and thanked us for helping out.

So lets face it, my eyes are naturally drawn to shells :) So I couldn't help but also keep any eye out for some gems. Boy was I glad I did too! I never thought our Texas coast was anywhere near as shelltastic as the beaches in Florida, but after this trip I certainly have a totally different perspective on shelling on Texas' beaches! I found some of the BIGGEST Angel Wing shells, beating out the ones in my Florida collection. They were as tall as my hand! I found a couple live moon snails, and unfortunately couldn't take their home, so I went about my shelling business and found an older moon snail shell that had a few holes in it, but it sufficed.

I also came along some really neat marine life. A couple rocks with pink and purple barnacles were washed back from low tide, which was really cool to see. Lots of moon snails, and then a really big jellyfish! I've never come across a beached jellyfish so big, and especially on a Texas beach. 

We walked our way down to the end of Galveston Island State Park, and then the sun finally came out and warmed us up!

We ended our surveying around 1PM on schedule to head back to turn in our survey findings to the United States Coast Guard members assigned to our shift. The walk way fantastic, and I really felt we were able to help save professional oil spill responders time by surveying the beach ahead of time so they would be prepared with the tools they needed to cleanup. It was educational, organized, and really showed the full circle aftermath of what an oil spill does beyond the water it contaminates.

I would highly encourage anyone interested in taking their desire to help our environment to the next level to just look for volunteer opportunities. Your time really does make a difference!

On Sunday, Mr. ArtSea Chic and I decided to scope out a beach area on the east side of Galveston that we had never been to before to do a little exploring and relaxing. We decided on Bolivar Peninsula which is a long stretch of beach away from the noise of the city with hardly any buildings, homes, or parking lots on half of it; my kind of beach! Our golden, Andi needed a little outdoors time, so we took her with us :) We grabbed an ice chest full of drinks, sandwiches, chips, and fruit so we could have lunch on the beach in the truck bed with the whole coastline as our view (always wanted to do this!).    

After we ate, we spent the rest of the afternoon shelling and walking the beach. A man who shells with you is a keeper ladies ;) Mr. ArtSea Chic found some really awesome shells, driftwood pieces, and sea glass for me that I was really excited about getting to keep. Truth be told, I had never seen sea glass in person till this day, and I felt like we had uncovered a diamond cave! Right by the truck I also found two really big moon snail shells that were in perfect condition.

During our walk we came across a pretty decent sized redfish that had washed ashore. Obviously dead for more than a few days given his eyes weren't there anymore, but it was cool to see a redfish the size Mr. ArtSea Chic usually catches on a good day of fishing.

We also noticed there was a ton of broken conch shell pieces everywhere we stepped! Gosh if only we would've found a whole one :( Mr. ArtSea Chic is now determined to find one himself sometime.haha A few bundles of white roses were also among some shell piles. Kind of random, but we assumed they were from either a wedding or an at-sea ceremony.

Couldn't have asked for a better day at the beach with my loves - except for warmer temperatures and less wind, I was freezing in 60 degrees. Now I know where to go for some sea glass and generally good shelling on the Texas coast! We will be back on the beaches of Bolivar Peninsula hopefully this summer to camp out and shell.

I had such a fun weekend! Hope you all enjoyed seeing a little behind-the-scenes of the Galveston Bay oil spill relief efforts. Make sure to follow ArtSea Chic on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@ArtSeaChic) because I share different pictures and info on each profile, would love to hear from you!

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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