Coastal Decor: Succulents + Seashells

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After a string of rainy days and cabin fever, I decided to rekindle my crafty side with some gardening. One of the things I got around to doing was a succulent bowl. I’ve been using Dr. Earth’s Organic Fertilizer for a few months on all of my plants and I am obsessed! I started with a single succulent and sprinkled it with this fertilizer, and seeing it grow so much made me want to finally follow through with this cute bowl. I’m gaining confidence in my ability to not kill plants so I picked up several more of these low maintenance blooms. Adding shells is a gentle way to evoke those beach days at home.

I used a large terracotta bowl with a hole in the center (similar here) and fitted a matching terracotta saucer underneath it (and here). I used EcoScraps; it incorporates food waste for a rich, hearty soil (and great recycling). It looked a little empty without me completely filling it with succulents, so I put some of my seashell collection to work. ..Which honestly makes my heart happy, instead of them being tucked away in the closet! The middle and shining star of my bowl is an aloe vera plant. I know at some point this summer someone will get a burnt nose and will be glad to have a slathering of it.

A little succulent info. They get their name from their thick leaves which hold onto water so well. You must put them in something that can drain. Allow the soil to dry before its next drink. They require a half-to-full day of sunlight and can survive indoors or outdoors.

I used bits of shells that I’ve collected from our surrounding beaches, and now I am reminded of those quiet, tender moments spent with my family when I look at it. As naval officer and explorer Jacques Cousteau rightly put it, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds us in its net of wonder forever.” It is only natural to enjoy having a little piece of it in your home to help you recall those peaceful hours in the sun. If you don’t have any on hand but would like to try the look, you can always use decorative shells.

Rosé: History + Basics

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similar crystal saucer

Rosé on my front porch – hello late Spring!

I had this idea of buying a bunch of different rosés, noting all their little complexities, and making a post about it. Then I started digging into its history and some basic facts and realized instead of listing specific labels, in truth, its more helpful to just understand how it is meant to be consumed and the regions in which it is produced. And, I’d be remiss to not include some backstory. Here’s the rundown.

Rosé was the first wine. Thousands of years ago, the Greeks would stomp red and white grapes together and then diluted it. It was considered savage as well as the choice of criminals to consume “pure” red wine. The Greeks brought it to the South of France where monks later kept the tradition of wine-making alive.

Many countries produce it and yet Provence, France is still the premier producer for rosé. In a nutshell, terroir is the complete natural environment of wine – from the soil to the topography to the climate. And in this region, it is found to be quite varied – from rolling hills, to the salty coast, limestone, clay, and crystalline (think minerality). And no, the endless lavender does not play a role here. Although that does give me an idea for a rosé cocktail now that I’ve typed lavender… more on that another time, maybe.

The terroir talk brings me to mention its special, beloved air they’ve named The Mistral. I have visited Provence in the summertime and can attest it is a hot one. However, the humidity is cut by this particularly strong, cold wind sweeping down The Rhône and over The Alps – saving its thriving vines and allowing some of the best wine in the world to succeed. I’ve zeroed in on sharing some of their history because, well, they’ve been making it for 2,600 years there and it’s still the classic standard.

It can be still, semi-sparkling, or sparkling. It can be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. It can be savory or spicy. It ranges from nearly translucent to salmon to deep pink.

It can be made from one varietal or a blend. Typically it is made from 2-3. Furthermore, while it is generally made from the early pressing of red grapes after 12-24 hours of skin contact (maceration), it is sometimes made by mixing white and red together. Although in France, this practice is illegal.

It is not meant to be served as cold as white wine – consider pulling it out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before you intend to drink it so as to be able to pick up on its unique flavors. It can range from berries to honeydew melon to citrus to even rhubarb.

It is supposed to be consumed in less than three years. It doesn’t keep. Unless you want vinegar.

It can make a mean cocktail. It doesn’t have to be served on its own. Try concocting a punch bowl or a pitcher of the tried and true frosé.

Provençal rosé is going to be your crowd pleaser – it is dry (not so sweet – no added sugar) and available to enjoy at any price point. You can get a great bottle between $5-$20. There are more expensive options, but really, why bother? Unless you’re dining out.

More from The Old World. In Italy, roscato can be sweeter and sometimes is a blend of white and red grapes. Same goes for Germany and its rosewein. Meanwhile in Spain, they take early-pressed rosé and add it to red wine and call it roscado. Head over to the Portuguese, and your option is a sparkling, sweetened bottle.

New World. American rosé is largely known as “White Zinfandel” and can be very sweet. On the other hand, in recent years and hailing from the cold, salty airs of Long Island, NY,  a hand full of rosés can mirror its provençal rivals. There are some exceptions coming out of California, too.

You can find a great bottle from any corner of the world, just go with the basic rule of the thumb – the lighter the color, the dryer (less sweet) the wine. Go a little darker, and you’re going to get a fuller-bodied flavor. But, anyone can add sugar to the final product so it’s best to do a quick research or ask your wine store. The low price point makes it easier to try different ones until you’ve found one you like. And really, there is no shame in liking it sweeter – sometimes the French ones are so decidedly dry they can start to taste a little watery – it comes down to preference. I’ve only mentioned a couple, but they are making it in most major countries. And yet the threat of a shortage is a real thing every year.

Lately wine enthusiasts like to stress it can be enjoyed year round and with all food. I mean, yeah. Do you. I’m the kind of born-to-be-a-mom gal who lives for decorating around different holidays so for me to reserve it for those balmy late spring to late summer days is a treat. It’s nice as a dinner’s aperitif, too. I’d prefer something like a little kebab of prosciutto, melon, and mozzarella or a nice salad or grilled fish with it – not because it’s a light wine, but because it’s a sneaky, sometimes complex wine that I’d rather sip and be able to give a little attention to it. But, all is fair in food and drink – have whatever you like! I own several books on wine but a very approachable, highly recommended read would be Wine Folly – it has easy charts and everything.

A Quick Hello + Welcome From Home

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shirt | jeansshoes | polish

Hello and welcome! Firsts are always a little awkward, aren’t they? But I’ve got to start somewhere! I am sitting down with a cup of coffee to write a quick post. I’ve wanted to get this blog going for so long, but felt I needed to have all this material ready to go…well, I’m not waiting on myself anymore – ha ha.

“Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Better about self care, which lately looks like buying myself flowers when I grocery shop – it’s saying yes to the beach without even checking the weather – it’s letting the dishes sit for awhile. But it’s not just saying yes to life’s small pleasures, though; it’s pushing myself to get things done for the payoff, too – something as simple as watering and pruning our container garden, after a lifetime of writing myself off as having a black thumb.

I came across the wise words of Thomas Moore while flipping through pages at a bookstore, “The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” This has really resonated with me. I relish giving attention to the ceremony of ‘the every day’ while incorporating a mix of quality goods and stuff with a story.

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my first post! I look forward to sharing more of my life + style with you. Stay tuned…