Thursday, July 29, 2010

Flip Flop Cookies

I saw these adorable cookies in a magazine while I was waiting at my son's doctor's office.  They are so cute!  And the best part... No baking required.

  • Oval-shaped cookies (we used Nabisco Cameos and Pepperidge Farm Milanos)
  • Frosting
  • Sour gummy worms
  • Rope licorice
  • Gummy candy

  1. To make a pair, frost two oval-shaped cookies or use a toothpick to dab frosting on each cookie where the straps will be attached.
  2. For wide straps, snip the rounded ends from a sour gummy worm, cut it in half, and slice each half lengthwise, leaving one end intact. For thin straps, cut rope licorice into four 1-3/4 pieces, cut one end of each piece on an angle, and pinch together the pointed ends to form two pairs.
  3. Press the straps, connected ends first, into the frosting. Use more frosting to add gummy candy jewels. Let the cookies set for 20 minutes. Serve them on a dish towel spread on a beach of graham cracker crumbs.

Decorating Around Your Tropical Bedding

More and more people are paying attention to the decor in their bedroom today, thanks to the decorative sheets and blankets now available. There are more ways to turn the bedroom into a tranquil place with bright or soft colors. Tropical bedding is a popular choice and decorating around that can be a matter of personal taste and personality.

Beach theme bedding offers a wide range of symbols, designs and colors to go with it. You have a selection of soft colors or bright, cool colors or bold combinations to choose from. The large selections of designs and symbols range from the simple or intricate. With choices vary from warm beaches to rolling waves, seashells to tropical havens.

Tropical Haven Bedding
Knowing the colors that you want to use is the first in creating the theme you want. Popular bold tropical colors include coral, blue, turquoise, green, and yellow. But soft colors like a tropical sunset can work. Your personal preference and mixing and matching bold and soft can bring the right combination of colors to create the atmosphere you are looking for.

To get the effect you are looking for, the walls and floors will also need attention. One way to do this is painting the walls a soft shade of brown or even a bronze, which works well with wooden floors. Hanging curtains that are light and flowing in a white or off white color. Displaying simple pieces of art on the walls will add to, rather than take away the bedding, which can be the centerpiece of the room.

Muted walls accented with bold colored accessories bring the color out without being too overwhelming. Or you can use bold colored walls with natural and neutral colored accessories. Bold and natural color combinations are what the tropics are all about, their natural beauty. Even a few throw rugs that are full of color will add a fun atmosphere.

When it comes to accessories, staying away from the mainstream novelty items is best. Everyone will have the most popular ones. To pull everything together, use your own creativity. Shells are good when left natural looking and on their own, or displayed around a light that has a tropical touch to it. For an added touch, a basket woven with bright colors and accessories inside, like lotion, beach towel, and umbrella can be sat in the corner.

The window treatment of the room can add or take away from the theme you are going for. Whites and light colors work well, but so do lightweight materials. If going for prints, walls should be muted, otherwise it can be too overpowering. Consider some plantation shutters or wooden blinds for a true tropical touch.

Bringing the tropics to your bedroom everyday is simple when you start with beautiful tropical print bedding. Accessorize with what matches your own personal taste in tropical decor and what makes you feel like you are in the tropics. The right colors can give the impression that you have just stepped into a tropical haven, each time you enter your room.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Capturing A Memory With Seashell Bedding

There is nothing more relaxing than getting into a bed that has beautiful sheets and pillowcases. These give one the anticipation of an excellent night's sleep with sweet dreams. Having seashell bedding makes this linen extra special, giving one the feeling of being near the ocean. This is especially appreciated by people who have had the pleasure of spending time in such a location. It often brings back happy memories of times gone by.

When one is on the beach they see the white sand stretching out before them. This has been captured by the manufacturers of these linens. The printed ones have a white background that is embellished with beautiful seashells, seaweed, coral and other items which stand out in all their glory. Some families use this linen as a learning experience, making a game of identifying the different shells and their location in the world.

There are a number of types of seashell bedding available. One might prefer the type that has shells embroidered on the pillowcases and on the trim of the sheets. These are done by the finest designers and artisans to produce something that is striking to behold. Only the finest embroidery thread is used and, many times, the work has been done by hand which makes it above the average, machine embroidery.

One will find that the better quality of this type of linen is outstanding. It may consist of imported cotton with a high thread count which produces linen that feels like silk when one is lying in bed. This gives a feeling of relaxation as well as enjoying only the very best in luxury.

Also on the market are beautiful comforters with seashells and other things of the ocean imprinted on them. These comforters come in many different colors so it is very easy to choose one that will complete one's decorating scheme for the bedroom. Having light green walls and a comforter that reflects those colors against a white or ivory background presents and outstanding scene.

These comforters are available in a number of colors so it is easy to pick up any shade desired. This makes it very simple to choose other decorative things to pull the whole idea together. Many home decorators have found this an ideal way to complete the impression they wish to convey.

In addition to bed sheets, pillowcases and comforters one can also purchase a bed-skirt and shams. This bedding is all available in Full, Queen or King sizes, which makes them available for anyone's bed. As a rule, shams will be printed the same as the comforter and the bed-skirt will have a contrasting design.

Nothing reveals a person's ability for fashion and detail than the decorating of their home. Having things in harmony, reveals not only one's personal ideals and things that are important to them, but shows the ability to produce something beautiful and outstanding that is different from the ordinary. Using beach decor in your bedroom is an outstanding way to put one's individual detail in action. Seashell bedding will make the scene complete.

Discovering The Worlds Most Beautiful Beaches - A Trip To Paradise

When looking for a place to get away for a while, "paradise" is a keyword that piques most people's interests. And when one thinks of paradise, a beach with powdery white sand, swaying palms, and glassy turquoise water often comes to mind. Thankfully, there are places like this all over the world where you can make a quick getaway, whether it's with your family, your significant other, or just yourself.

One place you may want to consider is Brazil for a visit to Fernando de Noronha. Declared to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by UNESCO, It is located 200 miles off the coast of Brazil and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. This network of small islands provides beautiful sand, huge rock formations and lush landscape that enhance the visitors relaxation and enjoyment.

The Indian Ocean is home to the Maldives and is comprised of a group of beautiful islands known throughout the world. This particular area is known to provide seclusion and a quiet, relaxing atmosphere for the relief of many a visitors stress. Beautiful silky sand, lush palm trees and crystal water present the feeling that this area of the world is practically untouched by civilization.

The Philippine Islands host another great opportunity for a beach get-away. Boracay is known as a lush, tropical paradise for those who want to get away from the busy, noisy typical tourist locations. The slow pace, beautiful weather and consistently moderate climate provide the perfect opportunity for the dream beach paradise vacation spot. If you have any doubts, just look at some of the pictures of this paradise and you will be on your way in no time at all.

Once thought to be the actual location of the Garden of Eden, Anse Source D'Argent has been declared another must see beach and one visit will make it crystal clear why. Crystal clear also describes the waters that rise to the sandy beach areas. Powdery, white sand provides a soft, clean experience for the beach lover and makes it a place that is really quite hard to leave. Surrounding reefs provide an opportunity to enjoy snorkeling and diving that attract many water sports lovers. Lined with huge boulders and small mountain ranges, this palm tree laden beach is beautiful beyond description.

It's hard to imagine a vacation and not imagine beaches; and it is going to be hard to decide between these beautiful suggestions. One you do decide though, all you have to do is pack the sunscreen and bathing suit and head to the beach!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Decorating Ideas To Incorporate Nautical Bedding In Your Room

Nautical bedding is the perfect choice for anyone hoping to style their bedroom with an ocean-like theme. Sometimes trips or vacations will inspire many people to recreate the feel of tropical blue oceans in their design. In addition, white rattan furnishings can provide the additional beach setting flavor one is hoping to achieve. Bedding is usually the focal point in sleeping areas so its theme is crucial. Complimentary window treatments will enhance the total effect.

Selecting nautical theme decor brings a crisp freshness to any bedroom. Retreat-like settings can be achieved with coastal motifs and wave-like patterns stitched with the colors and patterns of the sea. A peaceful environment can be created with the addition of sheets, pillows, duvets, etc., which allude to tropical islands and beautiful, sandy beaches. Sailing away into the sea of sleep is a breeze when snuggled up in sheets and bedding reminiscent of these settings. A power nap or a mere moment to relax and escape from reality would be facilitated in this type of tranquil environment.

When accented with pieces suggestive of travel around the world, bedrooms and guest rooms take on an exotic essence. Sea-shell and sea-foam colors lend a refreshing feel. A room can attain a refreshing atmosphere with the addition of sea-shell and sea-foam hues. Only a few alterations can create the feel of a vacation in an island paradise. The latest technological advances allow for photos to be printed on material; so, printing photos of vacations by the sea on bedding makes a unique and distinctive collage that would be interesting as well as comforting.

Stunning quilts can be made from patches of material printed with beach-signage, patterns of the coast, life-guard posts, or a collage of shells and coral. The relaxing decor one is looking for can be easily achieved when using suggestions of the seacoast as the theme. Those relaxing days at the shore can be experienced at home home when using a nautical stripe or surfing motif to bring focus to a room.

The feel of a tropical oasis can be created in a bedroom when bedding is shaded with blues and soft pastels. A set of new sheets, a duvet, and pillow shams with sea coast themes can take the imagination to far away resorts. It would be easy to imagine sunlit shores, soft breezes, and lush, green tropical forests with the addition of new pillows and bed coverings printed with these themes. Printed sheets portraying sandy dunes, swaying palm trees and glistening waters are only a few of the possible selections.

Bedrooms for children can be styled with nautical items to create a play time at the ocean where imaginations soar off to faraway lands in fanciful pirate ships and deep sea treasure hunts. Materials which display a star motif, striped sheets, or wave and anchor prints provide seaworthy backgrounds for an adventuring youngster on the imaginary ocean. Comfortable sleeping areas by night can evolve into exciting play areas by day when patchwork quilts and duvet covers are made from material depicting sailing boats, pirate ships and treasure chests.

A variety of sea-like shapes can be adapted into pillows, cushions or pillow coverings. Pointers that really turn can be sewn onto a compass-shaped pillow. A steering wheel, a pirate hat, and a variety of nautical play tools can become the stuff a child dreams of using in their pretend adventures. A duck, a whale or a set of waves shaped into cushions can be the very things that hours of play and dreams are made of.

When nautical bedding is the right choice, it can conjure up feelings of being on a luxury ocean liner cruise. Similarly, when the right accessories are added to the mix, an ordinary beach decor bedroom can become a virtual oasis of memories and dreams of the tropics, the beach, or a night on the moonlit sea.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tiki Culture

Many people are familiar with tiki culture because of its widespread popularity as a decorating style. It is also the dominant style in many tropical tourist destinations. However, you may not realize that tiki culture actually has its roots in several different locations. Tiki culture as it is represented in America combines elements that are distinctly Hawaiian, Polynesian, Maori, and from Easter Island.

The Polynesian idea of the tiki is said to have originated in the Marquesas Islands. According to Polynesian mythology, tiki refers to a male figure. Sometimes tiki is identified as a first man. The word 'tiki' can also refer to a wooden or stone image of this male god. The tiki figures are said to represent either the ancestor or creator of humans. Other tiki gods represent other areas of life. Besides wooden tiki figures, tiki images are also carved onto bowls, canoe paddles, and other items. Typically, this tiki figure stands with hands clasped over its stomach, with a large flat nose, round eyes, and a wide mouth. One common thread between most tiki figures is that the face is very flat, and much taller in proportion to the body. The word 'tiki' comes to the English language from both the Marquesas Islands and from the Maori language spoken in New Zealand.

According to Maori legend, tiki figures represent ancestors using simplified forms of the human figure. Sometimes these small figures are worn around the neck for good luck. These pendants, usually made of greenstone, are called hei-tiki. Some believe that these represent not only the ancestors, but also the goddess of childbirth. For many Maori, the wearing of hei-tiki is a central part of their cultural identity. The word 'tiki' is usually used to refer to larger wooden statues. Larger forms are used to mark the boundaries of significant or sacred sites.

One such place where tiki figures are used to mark a significant site is Rapa Nui, on Easter Island. This famous example includes a ring of very tall, yet partially buried, stone figures. Moai were carved many centuries ago, and they have overly large heads like many tiki representations. They were carved by Polynesian colonizers of the island. However, it is important to note that these figures are not called 'tiki' in Rapanui, the language of Easter Island; they are actually called Moai. These Moai represent deified ancestors in a minimalist style that is related to tiki and related forms found in many island cultures.

Similarly, in the Cook Islands Tiki is the guardian of the entrance to the underworld. Islanders bring offerings as gifts when someone is dying. Tiki-related symbolism also appears in Hawaiian culture, where the name appears as Ki'i. There are several different Hawaiian versions to the story of tiki.

In the United States, tiki culture refers to a blending of all of these tiki forms, along with related island motifs. The island culture symbolized by the tiki first became popular in the 1940's and 1950's, and remains popular today.

Royal Tiki specializes in genuine Hawaiian-made Tiki masks, Statues and Signs. Our Polynesian Art Fred the Aku Moai is a great addition to any collection

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Al Fresco Dining Has Never Been So Stylish

California is famous for its luxurious coastlines and the mild weather that graces the state almost year-round. And while the rest of the country looks forward to the few short months each year when they can entertain outdoors Californians are lucky enough to be able to celebrate outside all year long.

In Italy, dining outdoors has long been embraced as a relaxing way to unwind after a long day. So do as the Italians do and take advantage of the gorgeous surroundings by gathering your closest friends for a stylish evening of dining al fresco.
  • Make the decor divine. Whether you are entertaining on the beach or in your own back yard, it's simple to add some pizazz to your surroundings. Colorful paper lanterns cast a warm glow once the sun goes down. Small, stranded lights also enhance the mood. String them in trees or around a deck to add glimmer and ambiance to your setting.
    You can also use serving dishes to enhance your outdoor coastal decor. Colored ceramic dishes with bold patterns are an easy way to add flair to your table. Don't be afraid to mix and match colors. Red and yellow dishes on a royal blue tablecloth may seem hodgepodge in a dining room, but in an outdoor setting, this look imparts an eclectic, funky charm.
  • Master the art of mood music. Get creative with your music selection. Consider tailoring the music around the type of cuisine you are serving. For an Italian meal, play an assortment of Italian opera compact discs. To keep the mood light and playful, you can't go wrong by enhancing the outdoor theme with reggae music. Or get your guests involved by inviting everyone to bring their favorite CD to the party. Set your disc player to shuffle so that everyone's music selection gets playtime during the meal. It's a simple way to incorporate each person's personal style.
  • Create a stylish menu. Eating outdoors lends itself to fresh, easy-to-prepare foods. And you can add flair to any basic dishes with just a few additions.
    For an Italian meal, a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad is always a crowd pleaser. Drizzle chicken and fish with olive oil and lemon for a fresh, light flavor. And dust colorful veggies with Italian seasonings to bring out their natural flavors.
Whatever you serve when dining al fresco, remember that it is easy to infuse any outdoor setting with glamour by adding a few small touches. Every selection you make will reflect your personal style. And in the end, nothing says style like dining underneath the stars.

Visit the Grape Plants website to learn about wine grape bonsai and benefits of grapes.

Beach Table Decor

Throwing a beach themed party and want to set a terrific table that reflects the beach? No problem - there are so many ways to incorporate the theme into your table setting!

Tableware: At the beach one typically uses plastic or acrylic plates and utensils (or paper). These come in array of bright colors and are not that expensive (and go on sale around late summer). Purchase color coordinated napkins too. You can also put a colorful linen or plastic table cloth on the tables.

Beach themed candles or tea lights at each place setting: This not only helps to set a beautiful table, but some candles and tea lights come in beach-themed candle holders and also serve as take home party favors.

Beach themed picture frames or place cards at each place setting: There are a wide variety of picture frames and place card holders that come in the shape of Adirondack chairs, flip-flops, shell, pineapples, and sail boats. These also serve as take home party favors.

Beach themed coasters at each place setting: Once again these can not only serve as party favors, but also help to set a fun and beautiful table. Many such beach theme coasters also enable you to put a photo in them.

  • A plastic pail filled with a shovel, suntan lotion, small beach toys, flip-flops, etc. Send the centerpiece(s) home with a lucky guest(s).
  • A beach hat with a pair of fun, inexpensive sun glasses next to them.
  • A whole pineapple actually makes a very nice centerpiece and it screams 'tropics'.
  • Several candles grouped together. Preferably candles that have a beach theme to them.
You can also spread an assortment of sea shells on the outside of the centerpiece to add to the décor.
By the way, don't forget about the music to help set the scene. Of course music from 'The Beach Boys' is perfect for any beach party. Or do some online research to find songs that have the word 'beach' in them or a beach theme and make your own tape or CD ("Cruel Summer", "Heat Wave", "Island Girl", "Margaritaville", "All Summer Long", "Soak Up The Some" just to name a few").

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Author: Debra Rosenberg

10 Great Summer Beach Reads

1. Fly Away Home
    Jennifer Weiner

Sometimes all you can do is fly away home . . .
When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife—her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.
Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve—a husband, a young son, the perfect home—and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.
After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.

2. Promises To Keep
    Jane Green

In Green's 12th novel, Callie Perry is a happily married photographer with two wonderful kids, a lovable sister, Steffi, and a best friend, Lila. Problems are minor: Steffi can never settle down, Lila has finally found love but the guy has a nightmare of an ex, and Callie and Steffi's divorced parents haven't spoken in 30 years. But then Callie, a breast cancer survivor, is diagnosed with a rare and incurable complication of the disease. Suddenly realizing that she has only months to live, she begins the painful process of saying good-bye. While the subject matter is intense and personal, it's far from depressing; the characters are warm, funny and realistic. Green (The Beach House) manages to create an authentic tale of a woman who truly loves her life and family and is trying to do the right thing for them before she dies. While Green breaks up her chapters with recipes (presumably because Steffi is a cook), this peculiar modern conceit in women's literature feels like a misstep. Overall, Green once again delivers an enjoyable emotional story.

3. The Island
    Elin Hilderbrand 

 At the start of this steamy woman's novel from Hilderbrand (The Castaways), recently divorced Birdie Cousins is busy planning the September wedding of her older daughter, Chess, at the family house on Tuckernuck, a privately owned island near Nantucket. Birdie hopes to spend some quality time with Chess on Tuckernuck in July, but then Chess breaks her engagement to her consummate Ivy League golden boy fiancé, Michael Morgan. Michael fatally plunges off a Utah crag just when Birdie acquires her own new beau--a married man with a wife stricken with Alzheimer's. Birdie, Chess, and their support team--Birdie's computer-guru younger daughter, Tate, and Birdie's bohemian widowed sister, India--hare off to Tuckernuck. There hunky handyman Barrett Lee flutters hearts and dampens underwear in a breathless month of supercharged estrogenic imbalances. This never-never land portrait of the rich and randy will please those looking for a satisfying beach read.

4. Lowcountry Summer
    Dorothea Benton Frank 

Here's one for the Southern gals as well as Yankees who appreciate Frank's signature mix of sass, sex, and gargantuan personalities. In this long-time-coming sequel to Plantation, opinionated and family-centric Caroline Wimbly Levine has just turned 47, but she's less concerned with advancing middle age than she is with son Eric shacking up with an older single mom. She's also dealing with a drunk and disorderly sister-in-law, Frances Mae; four nieces from hell; grieving brother Tripp; a pig-farmer boyfriend with a weak heart; and a serious crush on the local sheriff. Then there's Caroline's dead-but-not-forgotten mother, Miss Lavinia, whose presence both guides and troubles Caroline as she tries to keep her unruly family intact and out of jail. With a sizable cast of minor characters with major attitude, Frank lovingly mixes a brew of personalities who deliver nonstop clashes, mysteries, meltdowns, and commentaries; below the always funny theatrics, however, is a compelling saga of loss and acceptance. When Frank nails it, she really nails it, and she does so here.

5. Sweetgrass
    Mary Alice Monroe 

When his domineering father, Preston, suffers a stroke, environmentalist Morgan reluctantly returns to help run Sweetgrass, the aging family plantation, even though he said he'd never go back to South Carolina after guilt over his older brother's death made him flee to Montana. Mary June, Morgan's mother, has grown estranged from her husband, but his stroke causes her to take a hard look at their past. Amid all this emotional chaos, Morgan's Aunt Adele is trying to force them to sell Sweetgrass to developers. Once again, Monroe, author of Skyward (2003), makes expert use of metaphors as she weaves the story of the region's Sweetgrass baskets into the story, and subtly addresses the urgent need to protect the environment. Monroe makes her characters so believable, the reader can almost hear them breathing. The lush details in this prodigal-son tale bring the low-country setting to life, and flashbacks tell the story of a young love rediscovered. 

6. Heart of the Matter
    Emily Giffin 

Tessa Russo is celebrating her wedding anniversary with her handsome husband, Nick, a pediatric plastic surgeon, when his pager goes off. At the hospital, he meets his new patient, six-year-old Charlie, who has been badly burned while roasting s’mores. Charlie’s mother, Valerie, a high-powered lawyer who has raised Charlie on her own, is wracked with guilt. As Charlie goes through various grafts and surgeries to repair the damage done to his face and hand, Nick and Valerie become close. Tessa, a stay-at-home mom who has misgivings about leaving her professorship, recognizes the distance growing between her and Nick but isn’t sure what to attribute it to or what to do about it. The premise is a familiar one, but Giffin injects freshness by getting inside both Tessa’s and Valerie’s heads and by making both sympathetic, fleshed-out characters. 

7. On Folly Beach
    Karen White 

To most people, Folly Beach is simply the last barrier island before reaching the great Atlantic. To some, it's a sanctuary for lost souls, which is why Emmy Hamilton's mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly's Finds, hoping it will distract Emmy from the loss of her husband.
Emmy is at first resistant. So much has already changed. But after finding love letters and an image of a beautiful bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly's Finds, she decides to take the plunge. But the seller insists on one condition: Emmy must allow Lulu, the late owner's difficult sister, to continue selling her bottle trees from its back yard.
For the most part Emmy ignores Lulu as she sifts through the love letters, wanting to learn more. But the more she discovers about the letters, the more she understands Lulu. As details of a possible murder and a mysterious disappearance during WWII are revealed, the two women discover that circumstances beyond their control, sixty years apart, have brought them together, here on Folly Beach. And it is here that their war-ravaged hearts can find hope for a second chance...  

8. Beachcombers
    Nancy Thayer 

After her husband leaves her for one of her best friends, middle-aged Marina Warren takes a friend's advice and retreats to Nantucket, the stomping grounds of her youth. She rents a cottage from handsome local widower Jim Fox, who has recently welcomed back his two older daughters, Emma and Abbie, into the house he shares with his third daughter, Lily. Emma has recently lost her job and been left by her fiancé, while Abbie has decided to start an odd-jobs company servicing the wealthy summer crowd. Lily, meanwhile, earns a living as a society reporter for the local magazine and stews in her resentment toward her sisters (who return the sentiment) and newcomer Marina, who clearly has eyes for her father. As each search for fulfillment (and a man), they encounter vexing villains, class struggle, and good old-fashioned romance. 

9. Thin, Rich, Pretty
    Beth Harbison 

Twenty years ago Holly and Nicola were the awkward outsiders at summer camp, and rich and popular Lexi was their nemesis. As adults, all three women are having trouble finding their place. Holly, a successful gallery owner, is struggling with her weight and a manipulative boyfriend. Nicola tries to revive her slumping acting career with plastic surgery, making her just another pretty face. Lexi is left nearly penniless and with few real-world skills after her father's death. Through a chance meeting, Holly and Nicola find out Lexi was not nearly as charmed as they thought, and they set out to right a wrong they committed as kids. Harbison, author of Shoe Addicts Anonymous (2007), uses scenes from the women's camp days to show how childhood insecurities linger, but doesn't dig deep in this sweet story about friendship and coming into your own. 

10. Cum Laude
     Cecily Von Ziegesar 

Gossip Girl goes to college in this tart satire of the class of 2014, centering on four mixed-up Dexter College freshmen who stumble through their first semester trying on life, love, and drugs. There's pretty rich girl Shipley, rebel-without-a-cause Eliza, repressed-artist Tom, and hippie-spawn Nick. With a total population of only nineteen hundred, Dexter was a small college in a small town, but it still felt overwhelming compared to high school, the kids discover, but the really scary bit is the newfound freedom—from families, histories, and their adolescent identities. In real life, this might be where the adults come in handy, but at Dexter, teachers (other than lesbian Professor Rosen) are nearly nonexistent, and the folks at home are distracted, disillusioned, or dolts. Plenty of Animal House antics and wiseacre banter keep this light and breezy, but von Ziegesar, whose Gossip Girl novels spawned the megahit TV series, adds a crisp and surprisingly steely edge that keeps the precocious teens from devolving entirely into smug knuckleheads. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sand Candles - Beachy Crafts


  • Large heat-proof mixing bowl
  • Sand
  • Empty 1-pound coffee can
  • Paraffin or old candle stubs
  • Candle wicking
  • Thin wood dowel or stick


  1. Fill the bowl three quarters full with slightly damp sand and dig a mold about the size of your fist.
  2. Using your hands, bend one side of the coffee can rim to form a spout. Fill the can halfway with paraffin and set it in a saucepan that's one fourth filled with water. (Never place the can directly on the burner.) Then melt the wax over very low heat; when it has melted, turn off the heat.
  3. Cut the wicking to 6 to 8 inches longer than your mold is deep. Rest the dowel across the bowl's top and tie one end of the wick around it. Press the other end into the bottom of the mold.
  4. Now carefully pour the wax into the mold until it reaches about 1 inch from the top.
  5. Once the candle is cool, remove it from the mold, brush off any excess sand, and trim the wick.

Nautical Decor: Bring Summer Into Your House

If you look around your house and know that it is time for a change, but are not sure what to do next, then consider nautical decor. This fresh and eye-catching look will gain your friends' admiration and bring its clean lines and refreshing color to your life.

Customarily, the two main nautical colors are a pure, bright shade of white and dark, beautiful navy blue that are accented by little bit of bright, sparkling gold here and there. The disparity between these colors looks stunning as they play off of each other, not over-powering the room or overwhelming with their intensity, but simply charming with a pleasant vividness.

Another reason that this look is so pleasing to the eye is because it is refreshing with its straight, parallel lines. People like to see balance and structure in design and especially finding patterns is comforting to guests sitting in the room, whether they realize it or it is an unconscious vibe they pick up from the theme.

This type of decoration is mostly set with one line on top of the other, blue and white, and blue and white, so the repetition brings a nice feel and a sense of relaxation and security.

There is a strong connection of this kind of decor with the feelings of the beach because that is the basis for this look. Your home will remind visitors of the last time they relaxed by the ocean, lying on a chair tanning in the hot rays of the sun, with their feet dug firmly into the warm sand and the seagulls crowing in the background as the waves moved in and out.

This association will be enough to make the stress fall from their shoulders as they sit comfortably back in your furniture and feel relaxed once again, as they did by the sea.

You can do a lot of fun and cute things with these furnishings as well. Anything related to the ocean will work here, so a gold anchor hanging on your wall might be nice, as well as a clock decorated with seashells and pictures of the shore.

An abundance of creatures and animals are also associated with the shore and would fit into your theme, such as crabs, oysters, and lobsters, as well as pictures of fish in all different types and colors. If you are really getting into it, then add a live fish tank for an awesome and classy enhancement to your cool theme.

You also might think of putting some birds into your room, as they are also found in abundance by the sea. Paintings of different types and species of birds could be a beautiful way to enrich a room that is basically solid blue and white, from the walls through the furniture, and will add interest to your look. If you are not into fish, but like real birds, you also might want to put in a bird cage and take care of real one.

A nautical decor can be a lot of fun to work with because the possibilities are truly endless and the end result is unusually stunning and sophisticated. Especially if you are thinking of redecorating your home with coastal decor, this is a great idea to consider that will please all who enter your home.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Totally Radical Surf Decor Ideas For Your Bedroom

If you want a fun and unique look for your bedroom, then you might want to consider surf decor for your new theme. This is a fresh, colorful way to add a lot of life and excitement to an otherwise dull and boring area.

There is no one way to decorate a room in this type of theme because there are so many different factors and details that can be changed or altered according to personal taste. No one personality is more suited for this look than another one and totally different types of people could really enjoy this look, each with their own personal twist on it.

The first type of look for this decor is for someone who is very manly and enjoys the beach in a masculine type of way. The main color for a room like this is blue, with dark blue walls to represent the sea and even a blue carpet or rug to match.

There are multiple ways to enhance this room and for this kind of look. The best choices are probably pictures of surfers on the walls or even an actual surfboard hanging up, as well as photographs of scary sharks with their mouths open and large teeth showing.

An extremely different way to take this look is for a feminine, delicate girl who wants a surf decor theme for her bedroom. She can paint her walls in varying shades of pink and purple, with Hawaiian flowers in all different colors as decorations to the look.

A nice effect for her centerpiece would be a lamp that is shaped like a palm tree sitting on her desk and photographs of the sunset at the beach can be placed strategically all over the room as well.

For either a boy or girl that absolutely loves surfing and does not care much for the color of their room, choose accents that are shaped like surfboards for a cool look. There are small and large rugs, signs to hang on the door, and even surfboard ceiling fans that come in all different colors. There are even beds made in this shape!

There are also Hawaiian girl lamps, where the stand of the piece looks like a hula girl, hula hoops that might look nice hanging from the wall, and grass skirts that can be placed around the room to add to the feeling.

You cannot forget the natural surf look, either. This type of decoration is focused on natural, wooden pieces, such as unfinished wood beds and desks and bamboo decorations. The photographs around the room can be ones of wrecked ships, tiki huts, and lots of plants and greenery.

With the number of ways and directions that surf decor and beach decor can take, the sheer amount of personality types that would feel comfortable decorating their room like this is amazing. By simply going on the internet and looking around a little bit, you will definitely be able to find bedding, curtains, carpeting, and enhancements that will make a bedroom like this feel your own, even if you would never have imagined it. You never know what you will find until you start to look.

Hawaiian Luau Theme Party 101

Most people think of modern luaus as large scale productions at resort hotels that usually include a real kalua pig in an underground oven, live Hawaiian music, and real hula dancers. But you can capture the essence of a luau simply by having a Hawaiian theme party right in your own home. Throwing a successful Hawaiian theme party basically comes down to three simple things: attire, atmosphere, and food. If you can pull off these three things, you are sure to have a party that your guess will remember.

Hawaiian Clothing
The easiest way to give your party visual pizazz is to have all your guests wear colorful Hawaiian shirts and dresses. Let your guests know about the Hawaiian theme ahead of time so they have time to get their clothing if they don't already have some. It would also be good to have leis for all your guests as they arrive, just as they would when they arrive at a real luau. You can easily find cheap silk or plastic leis online that will do the trick while keeping you under budget. And for the women, a nice real or fake flower to wear behind the ear would add a nice tropical touch.

Tropical Atmostphere
In addition to having your guests wear their favorite Aloha wear, it's important to make sure they walk into a festive atmosphere when they arrive at your party. There are 3 easy steps to accomplish this. First, play Hawaiian music on a CD or MP3 player that can be purchased and downloaded from many sources on the web. Second, use simple props or wall decorations that are available at many local party supply stores. Tape plastic decals of coconut trees to your walls or scatter flowers on the food table and drape it with a raffia skirt. If you are having a backyard party, set up an inflatable palm tree or some outdoor torches. And finally, use colorful or tropical colored cups, plates, and napkins. Set everything up, step back, and take a look at your party site. If it looks and sounds like Hawaii to your mind's eye, then you're probably good to go.

Luau Food
As important as attire and atmosphere are to your party, ultimately it will be the food that will put your party over the top. If you really want to make your Hawaiian party feel like a real luau, you should include at least a few iconic luau foods. If you make only one luau dish, make it kalua pig. There are many recipes on the web for simple kalua pig that you can make in your oven or crock pot. Other popular menu items include things like poi, lau lau, poke, mahi mahi, haupia and many more. The more luau foods you include in your menu, the more adventurous and exotic your party will feel.

Final Thoughts
The key thing to remember for the Hawaiian theme party, and all theme parties in general, is to make sure your guests have a great time. You don't have to spend much to have a successful party. You could even have a simple pizza party with all your friends in Hawaiian clothing and still have a great time. On the other hand, if your goal is to host an event that will be talked about for years to come, you might as well go all out with real torches, live music, real flowers, a tropical drink bar, and anything else you can imagine. The bottom line is to have fun and create memories to last a lifetime, or at least until your next party.

About the Author
Scott Murakami has been the manager of the online Hawaiian clothing site for over a decade and invites you to learn more about some of the fun things about Hawaii that make life in the islands unique.

Decorating With Nautical Bedding - Not Just For Yachts Anymore

Decorating with nautical bedding is full of possibilities. There are really no limits to the colors and styles you may choose. Blues and greens are often though of as the primary colors for this style of decorating. However, many other colors lend itself to this style as well. One may choose to use reds, browns, and even white. Your imagination is the only limitation.

Take into consideration the atmosphere you wish to create when choosing a color palette. Peace and calm are created when using blues and greens. White will add drama to the space. Red lends itself to feelings of excitement and aggression. If insomnia is a common problem you may wish to eliminate the use of red or use it in very limited amounts.

The common theme thought of where nautical bedding is concerned is lighthouses. However, many other themes are included in this genre of decor as well. Some of them are, sailing, beach scenes, or the tropics. Any one of these choices will give you your primary color scheme. Your accents are then chosen from there. Your accents may include furniture, artwork, and accessories.

You have chosen your primary color scheme, now you should decide on how much of the theme you wish to include in the space. If a lighthouse theme has been chosen, are you going to include that theme on the bedding? You may just want the lighthouses to be added through your accessories. If you included your theme in both, will it be too cluttered for the space? These are all things to consider when decorating with nautical bedding.

The tropics as a theme will allow you a wide variety of colors to choose from. Some of these choices may include oranges, pinks, yellows and even purples. When you take that tropical vacation in your mind what do you envision? Maybe you have been to the tropics and you have seen the boldness of the colors you wish to explore in your decorating. Any one of the colors you think of in this palette are a good jumping off point for your space.

Whether it be tropical, sailing, beach scenes or lighthouses, accenting with wood is a marvelous choice. Sailboats often times will have that warm honey colored wood. Using a clean crisp whitewashed wood for a beach scene is a great choice. The deep richness of the mahogany colored wood for the tropical decor theme will lend warmth against the cooler colors in the palette.

Many times the bedrooms is not just for resting any longer. The room may play host to other activities such as office space, entertainment area, reading space etc. If this is the case, take the alternate activities into consideration when choosing your colors, the saturation of accessories and the accent woods you use. Reading in a room that is busy with color and accessories may cause disruption in that much needed down time. If your office is somewhat cluttered, having to many items in the mix of the office clutter may cause anxiety. Regardless of the other functions, keep in mind your need for rest. Your color palette and theme choice should be one that allows your mind and body to rest.

Your nautical decor does not have to be limited as one may think. Possibilities are endless when you allow your creativity to spur you to design. If decorating with this style causes some anxiety, start out small. Begin by using the color palette and then move on to adding a theme through accessories. Choosing a less bold statement in your bedding may allow you to decide if decorating with nautical bedding is really for you. Adventures wait, however, when you decorate with the seas in mind.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

22 Beach Home Decor Ideas

Is your beach house a little dated or needing a mini makeover? Here are 22 simple decorating ideas that will spruce up and highlight the beauty of your summer residence.

1. Classic Adirondack chairs on the porch.

2. Braided or woven tropical area rug. Because the wood floors do take a beating.

3. Unfinished, unlaquered table tops echo the look of driftwood.

4. White wicker end tables are perfect for bedrooms or the living room.

5. Removable cushion covers and sofa slipcovers in outdoor-rated fabrics such as Sunbrella are easy to wash and will stand up to damp swimsuits and towels.

6. A lighthouse needlepoint throw pillow displayed on a rocking chair.

7. Use red, white, and blue accents for a touch of Americana throughout your house.

8. Louvered shutters keep the midday sun at bay on porches and bedrooms.

9. Ceiling fans to circulate the air and cool the rooms.

10. Underwater themed or tropical wall mural in a bedroom or the living room.

11. Decorative seagrass baskets for storage.

12. Tropical bedding with vivid blue and bright white stripes for a classic nautical theme.

13. For a high-ceilinged room, keep the windows unadorned to let the natural light in completely.

14. Picnic table and benches for outdoor dining

15. Simple vintage bed frames.

16. Seashell mirror for the bathroom.

17. A nautical house flag or brightly colored windsock for the front porch.

18. Wooden model ship. A mini version of a sailboat, fishing boat, or yacht for a centerpiece or to display on a mantel or coffee table.

19. Ornamental lawn lighthouse for the front yard.

20. Cabinet hardware with shell, lighthouse, dolphin, boat, anchor, or palm tree designs

21. Door knocker with anchor or clam shell design.

22. And of course, display seashells, driftwood, and sea rocks found at your local beach throughout your beach house for a special touch.

Use a combination of these beach home decor tips to bring a fresh and decidedly beachy feel to your home.

Article Source:

The Health Benefits of Living at a Beach House

Thoughts of living at a beach house, for most of us, brings about images of clear blue skies and beautiful tropical blue beaches as we call up fantasies of ultimate relaxation and well-being.

But what brings about these feelings? You may think it's just a result of clever advertising or a built in instinctive urge to return to the sea from where we first came but it's not. Metaphysically and psychologically, water is associated with creativity and feelings and being close to the sea brings out our feelings and fosters creativity. But Living at a beach house or on oceanfront property has actual health benefits resulting from being near the sea.

Seawater and Sea Air...Good for Body and Soul

Research tells us the sound of waves alters the wave patterns in the brain soothing you into a deeply calm and relaxed state. Relaxing in this way can help revitalize your mind and your body. But the sound of the waves is just one of the health benefits of living on oceanfront property.

Fresh Air for Sleep

Ever wondered why we always sleep more soundly after spending the day on the beach? Well it's because of the sea air. Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that increase our ability to absorb oxygen. These negative ions help balance levels of serotonin, a body chemical associated with mood and stress. This is the reason that after vacationing you feel more alert, relaxed and energized and after a day spent at a beachfront property you start feeling deeply relaxed and able to rest more soundly.

Sun for Feeling Good

Another health benefit of living in a beach house or on beachfront property is of course the beach itself. When we're lying on the beach, the sun feels magnified and so relaxing. This is because the heat of the sun effects our endocrine system (the part of our body which releases endorphins) these natural feel good chemicals are designed to make us feel relaxed and less stressed.

Sunshine is a main source of vitamin D and this vitamin plays a major role in strengthening the bones and boosting the immune system. Inadequate levels of vitamin D are associated with several autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis and Crohn's disease. Recent research on this subject suggests that vitamin D may also prevent the growth and spread of various cancers, including some skin cancers.

Sun to Improve Skin and Aid with Skin Conditions

Our skin is the largest organ of the body and it absorbs chemicals and substances (both good and bad) and tries to rid itself of these substances through sweat. Although care must be taken to avoid overexposure to the suns UV rays, some sun can be good for some skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis. The ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun slows the production of skin cells and reduces inflammation. A common treatment, performed by dermatologists, for these conditions is by the use of an artificial light that emits low-level UV rays.

Seawater to Promote Health

When living in a beach house or on beachfront property you have the advantage of bathing in your own therapeutic pool...the sea. The beneficial qualities of seawater have been known to man for centuries and have been noted as having a great healing effect on the fishermen's hurt hands. The saltwater helps heal the wounds, reduced infection and promoted pain relief.

The magnesium content of seawater is significant enough to have a nutritional and calming effect on our nerves, which explains why sea bathing is so relaxing. Potassium in seawater enters the skin and encourages good urinary flow. Seawater contains all the 89 known elements present in our bodies, including osmium, gold, vanadium, zinc, and iodine.

Bathing in seawater opens the pores and helps to remove toxins from the body by means of the lymph system, which is valuable in eliminating trapped fluids around the thighs, knees and ankles. Research also shows that bathing in seawater increases the elasticity of the skin, and improves its outer appearance.

Not all of us are lucky enough to live in a beach house. But those that do live on oceanfront property are more likely living a calmer, less stressful life with all the health benefits the sun and sea provide.

Article Source:
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Friday, July 2, 2010

Model Ships Can Add A Little Something Special To Your Nautical Home Decorating

There are many gifts that you can offer friends as thanks, to celebrate an occasion, or just because they are who they are. The term nautical decor means the item has a maritime theme. You will be surprised as to the assortment available. If you are a collector there are many different items to choose from.

Whatever area you consider decorating you can be sure it will bring the ocean to your environment. You may want to display your model in your home or office. Perhaps your interest lies in model ships. Some are made of museum quality wood and are really works of art. Some are handcrafted a piece at a time and are built, as the real ones are, to last. Some of these ships sit on a base of marble to add to the quality.

The selection is varied and you can choose the USS Constitution or the Titanic if that fulfills your interest. These could be placed in a place of honor so that everyone can see. The stunning tall ships with their sails or the very renowned Mayflower also deserve a unique place. Putting the H. M. S. Bounty or the Columbus trio, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria on the mantle of your fireplace would be ideal. Reminders of certain eras like the Mississippi riverboats, Sampan fishing boats, or Chinese junks are also exciting to own.

For the adventurous there are the Caribbean Pirate ships. The standard pirate ship for all pirates or perhaps something more important like the Flying Dutchman could be good choices. Models of ships that belonged to the infamous Captain Kidd and Calico Jack could also be favorite nautical theme decor items.

Viking ships with their dragon figureheads and their peppermint colored sails, the Bluenose fishing schooners, and clippers are just some of the different choices. Not only are there historical themes but modern day ships are also available. Perhaps your friend would like a more recent ship or boat depiction.

There is a series of designs for the America Cup. This series includes the Enterprise, Ranger, Defender, and the Columbia. This is perfect for those America Cup aficionados.

Also available are modern boats such as a yacht, dory, whaler, fishing boat, or a lobster boat. Cruisers, speedboats, and even models of Coast Guard cutters and icebreakers can be found. A Trident or Los Angeles Class submarine, the USS Nimitz or the USS Harry S. Truman can also be purchased.

Perhaps you were looking for another type of gift or collectible other than model ships. There is an unbelievable array of different articles under this theme. Available are bells of every kind for ships such as the cast brass bells, the lanyard bells, and the anchor bells. Very important on ships were the figureheads that guaranteed a safe crossing and also calmed the gods. Replicas of figureheads come in a variety of types. You can get the Polynesian maiden, the Indian princess, and lest we forget the most popular of them all, the mermaid. The bells or the figureheads are articles that could also be collections to complement your ship collection.

To find other great beach decor or nautical decorations ideas, check out