Waterfront Tabletop, 3 Ways

I've been dreaming of owning a little cottage on the waterfront for years.  Whenever we rent a place on the beach, I wake up, stare at the ceiling and imagine how I would re-paint it or change out the curtains and refurnish the screened-in porch.  Here's how I might lay out a dining room table, depending on whether I was living on a lake, a tropical island or by the ocean.

LAKE HOUSE

I'm picturing a cabin at the edge of the woods, looking down on a shimmering lake.  The walls are all made of natural logs, there's a stone fireplace and cozy wool blankets for winter.  In the summer, the large windows let in the sunlight, beckoning you down the steps and onto the dock where you can jump in a canoe and spend the morning on the water.  When you come back for lunch, you might pull out these items to set your table:  

Napkin Holders via Ocean Swept

Tablecloth via Anthropologie

Lanterns for Candles via Anthropologie

Pitcher via Toast Ceramics (as seen on Scout Mob)


TROPICAL RETREAT

There are tons of kitschy ways to lay out a "tropical" table, but we know we'd quickly get tired of the tounge-in-cheek palm tree look.  Instead we're going for a more subtle approach allowing some brightly colored flowers and stunningly fresh food take center stage.  

Napkins via Crate & Barrel

Tablecloth via Terrain

Pitcher via Anthropologie

Lanterns for Candles via Crate & Barrel


BEACH HOUSE

This is where my heart lives.  I'm an ocean girl through and through and I would love nothing more than to own napkins printed with a line drawing of a great sailing vessel!  I can picture stringing lights around the porch and leaving some inside these terrific lanterns, throwing on a simple tablecloth and serving up a bright red lobster on this delicious wave-patterned plate.  All after a day of playing in the salt water and reading a trashy murder mystery on the beach!  

Tablecloth via Crate & Barrel

Napkins via Oh Little Rabbit

Platter via Jessica Howard

Lanterns via Terrain

Which table setting speaks to you the most?  Let us know in the comments.  And vote for your most favorite item!  Also, send us a photo of your own version of a waterfront table... we'd love to see & share!  

xoxo

Zandra

P.S.  Check out these book for further inspiration:

Quick Idea: Rope Lampshade

As much as I enjoy sunshine when I'm at the ocean, I secretly love a rainy day at the beach so I can laze around playing solitaire and reading a good book.  But I also like to get my hands on an easy project while I listen to the rain coming down.  Here's a super quick way to add a little rustic, nautical charm to a side table, perfect for a waterfront cottage.  And you can do it in under an hour!  

lamp3.jpg

Find an old lampshade at a thrift store.  Using an Exact-o knife, cut off all of the fabric or paper and peel it away from the edges.  You can soak it it warm, soapy water if you're having trouble removing it all.  If you'd rather buy a new frame, you can order one online.  We recommend The Lamp Shop.  For about 10 bucks you can get a hexagonal frame like the one we've used here.  

Using jute or other natural twine, tie off one end of your rope and start wrapping it around the frame, vertically.   You'll need a LOT of rope so you might want to buy a new spool before you get started.  If you have a drum shade, you'll probably just use one, long continuous piece of twine.  If you have multiple sides like ours, you might choose to do each side with its own piece, tying off twice per side so that you have little knots around the bottom edge of your shade.  Totally up to you!

xoxo Zandra

DIY: Bleach Pen Shirts

Materials:

Cotton T-Shirt
Bleach Pen
Transfer Paper
Pen
Cardboard
Tin Foil

Whale Design (front end)
Whale Design (back end)

Transfer a design onto your t-shirt using transfer paper.  For our light colored t-shirt, we used graphite paper.  Print out our whale design or find one of your own.  We freehanded the text on our Follow the Stars t-shirt.  

Cover a large piece of cardboard or foam core with tin foil and slip inside your shirt so that the bleach doesn't soak through to the back of your shirt.

Squeeze a thin line of bleach from your pen and trace the outline of your design.  

Allow your bleach to set for 10 minutes. You will notice that the bleach will seep a small amount.  Carefully slide the cardboard out from the inside of your t-shirt.  Make sure to not allow the bleach to touch other areas of your shirt.  Hold under a heavy stream of cold water in your sink and wash off all of the bleach.  It will have gelled together by this point, so won't run across your fabric.  Gently wash your t-shirt by hand using hand soap.  Now you can throw it in the wash along with your other laundry.  


Interested in more DIYs by Little Yellow Couch, check these out ...

 

Flower Arrangement: Island Edition

For this month’s flower arrangement, we weren’t sure how to represent our “On The Waterfront” theme.  Add a swizzle stick decorated with a fish?  Use a vase made of shells?  Um…no.  Then I realized that I was only thinking of our typical New England rocky coast and cold lakes for inspiration.  Why not dream about the tropics and go for something that might come from a warm and breezy island instead?

I wasn’t at all sure what I would find at my usual flower shops but when I spotted these huge ginger leaves, I knew I had the base.   Karen then suggested they act as a backdrop, standing upright against a wall.  If we could have stapled them to some driftwood we would have, but the florist told me they curled up quickly out of water.  Instead I placed each one in its own small glass (ones I usually use for votives).  You have to cut the bottoms of the leaves up a bit because there isn’t much of a stem.  

Given that we didn’t have access to any birds-of-paradise or other exotic flowers, I was hoping to use orchids.  Those however, turned out to be $30/stem, which I just couldn’t swallow.  After all, we’re encouraging you to think of these monthly flower arrangements as an every-day kind of thing so we’ll save the orchids for a special event.  Anyway, I decided on using the humble day lily as a focal point.  Even though it’s ubiquitous around here, I still think it’s a terrific looker and worth showing off.  

In front of the three small glasses holding the ginger leaves I’ve used a rectangular box (I stole it from my bathroom…it’s one of those stone containers for cotton balls or Q-tips), fitted with some wet floral foam.  You simply soak the foam in water, cut to fit your container and place inside.  I needed something to trail a bit over the container to hide the foam.  The Bipurum is great for this job, as would any "filler" flower you find at your florist.  The last detail is the straw flower, AKA "Crespedia." I love how sculptural they are, especially when they’re standing at attention.  

So.  Imagine you're at an open-air bar on the beach, sipping a drink that comes with a little umbrella.  Next to you is this tropical flower arrangement and you breathe in its scent as you admire the glorious sunset.  Are you feeling it?  We hope so!  

xoxo Zandra  


Interested in more floral arrangements by Little Yellow Couch, check these out ...

Quick Idea: Brass Bracket Frame

On one of our many hunting trips to antique shows, we found these wonderful brass...things.  There's some question about what they were originally used for.  (If you know or have a guess, leave it in the comment box below)!  At any rate, we loved the brass and it made us think of old ships and the hardware that might have been used, say, during the New England whaling period.  To us, they looked like little frames.

We each chose to frame something that represented a favorite image for our "On The Waterfront" theme.  Karen found an old black & white of a man at sea and I had this little painting from an artist living in Maine.  We were planning on hanging them directly on the wall using the holes in the sides.  When taking photos for this post, however, we simply placed them on top of some vintage books.  Turns out, we love how the colors of the covers offset the brass frames and so we'll affix them to the books permanently, creating a larger piece of found art!  

Next time you're antiquing* keep your eyes out for anything that could be used to frame a small image.  Or perhaps you can find something similar, maybe a light switch plate, in your local hardware store.  Glue the whole thing onto an old book and you'll have yourself a little conversation starter.  Pretty cool, huh?  

xoxo Karen June & Zandra

* Looking for your own vintage brass brackets ... check out these great shops on Etsy:

Retro Collecto
DK General Store
Pippa Marx Studio
Vintage Flea Finds
Stock In Trade
Vintage Flea Finds
Rescued Carolina

 


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Before & After: Waterfront Bar

Karen and I love a good Before&After project.  I found this little number at a thrift store and was drawn to its small size, figuring it could be a quick turn-around.   Plus, I'd been thinking of making a summer cocktail station.  (For my imaginary-future beach house, for which I've been collecting odds and ends for years so that I'm fully prepared to move in as soon as the opportunity presents itself).  

We were particularly excited to try out Cari Cucksey's new line of paint which she's selling under her RePurpose brand.  We met Cari at the Country Living Fair in NY and fell in love with her colors.  For the bar, I chose the Grand Hotel Flowers Red, thinking it would offset the interior, which I already had plans for.  She also sells a terrific primer and sealer.

I've collected a bunch of nautical charts of the Gulf of Maine and Casco Bay and used them to line the interior of the shelves.  Some of my favorite places on the waterfront are there, including Portland and Acadia National Park.  Here's the final project:

To celebrate our "On The Waterfront" theme, I made a paper garland of signal flags, each flag representing a letter of the alphabet.  I took some liberties with the shapes so they wouldn't all be rectangular to spell out "Happy Hour" and hung them over the bar.  I want guests to feel they can mosey up and help themselves to a drink before dinner as everyone gathers to relax on the porch.  (Again, this is all happening in my imaginary beach house.  For now, everyone will have to make do with just the bar and good conversation amongst friends).  

xoxo 

Zandra

Tips:
* Always take an extra few minutes to sand your painting surface.  
* Cari Cucksey and her team have also created a 
* When lining the shelves with maps (or other decorative paper), measure and cut the side panels, adding 1/4" to the interior side and bottom edges.  Then measure and cut the back panel, adding the top of the shelf so that you have one continuous piece.  
* Brush decoupage glue (I used Mod Podge) onto one side panel at a time and lay your map on the glue starting at the top edge and rolling it down, smoothing the paper as you go.  
* Cover the back and top of shelf panels after the sides.  Use a bone folder or edge of a credit card to smooth out any air bubbles.  
* Add two layers of Mod Podge on top of the paper surfaces and then a final layer of shellac to seal.  


If you would like to see more Before & After projects by Little Yellow Couch, check these out ...

ReMake: Paint Dipped Oars

For this project, I found an old set of oars at the Brimfield Antique Show for about $40.  They have a great weathered look and we thought that adding a modern striped pattern with a touch of gold would make a nice contrast.  I plan on using them as an affordable piece of sculpture in my home.    

oars1.jpg

Karen and I are both loving the paint dipped craze right now.  (For one of our party invites, we dipped the ends of wooden spoons into paint, which you can see here).  As for larger items, we've seen the legs of pretty much every piece of furniture altered by adding paint to the bottoms.  This gave us the idea to paint the "legs" of the oars.  Technically, I couldn't dip the oars because it was obvious to us fairly quickly that we'd need a whole lot of paint and some ridiculously tall, skinny buckets to actually dip them.  So instead, we put the old painter's tape trick to work.  The thing is, I've had some rotten luck with taping off edges when I paint.  It often seems that the color leaks under the tape or I peel off some of the paint when the tape is removed.  (Anyone else feeling my pain?).  I thought I'd give it one more try since I really, really wanted to go for this paint dipped look.  

This time, I used the Frog brand of painter's tape (see our supply list, below).  I chose a very light mint, a coral and a nautical blue for the stripes.  I was doing a little jig when I pulled off the first piece of tape and saw a perfectly even line of blue.  All Hail the Frog Tape Miracle!  I used the width of the tape to determine the spaces where the wood would show through.  For the times when there were two colors touching (the blue and the coral), I did the coral first, let it dry and then re-taped for the blue.  The final touch was some thin gold stripes that I did freehand using a Sharpie paint pen.  I'm really happy with the results!  Let us know if you've tried anything similar...we'd love to see your photos!

xoxo

Zandra


If you like this ReMake project by Little Yellow Couch, check out some others ...

DIY: Tackle Box Jewelry

Karen thought it would be fun to challenge ourselves to come up with jewelry made from boating supplies.  There seems to be lots of shiny objects in those marine shops near where you'd dock a boat.  And we love shiny objects.  We thought we'd try our local "outdoor" store and were distracted by the shiny fishing supplies before we could even ask if they had any shiny hardware one would use on a boat.  

We were getting a little carried away by fishing lures when a guy came over to us to see if we needed any help.  Of course, the first thing he asks is "what are you looking to catch?"  As in, fish.  

We felt like we had been caught doing something we weren't supposed to do.  We fessed up and told him we were actually going to be making jewelry with his fishing gear.  I think I might have turned pink and started to laugh in an annoying high-pitched sort of way.  But he was so lovely about it!  He got into it with us and helped us find the best shiny, brightly colored paraphernalia he could think of.  Karen excitedly took it all home and got to work. You can make your own using the tools and supplies below or "catch" the ones we've made in our shop.  

xoxo Zandra

Materials:

Fishing Lures
Jewelry Chain
Jump Rings
Eye Pins
Jewelry Metal Hole Punch Pliers
Jewelry Plier/Cutter
Needle Nose Pliers
 

Tips:

  • Scout out your local Outdoor or Sporting Goods store for fishing lures and other supplies that catch your eye.  We were drawn in the bold colors and graphics we found in many of the lures. 
  • Gather your fishing supplies, jewelry chain, jump rings, eye pins and jewelry tools. You could even find an existing piece of jewelry that you could repurpose for this project.  
  • Jewelry Metal Hole Punch Pliers are a great tool to have on hand for repurposed jewelry making.  We used ours to punch a second hole in the bracelet lures as well as the brass tag on our necklace.  
  • To add beads and findings to your chains slip them on an Eye Pin and cut the straight end leaving about 3/8".  Using round nosed pliers, create a loop at the end of the wire.  Your bead will now have a loop on either end to keep it in place.  To attach your beads to your chain or to each other, simply connect with a jump ring.  

P.S.  Fishing hooks are sharp, so be careful.  I learned the hard way!  

We'd love to see what you come up with!  Send us an e-mail (info [at] littleyellowcouch.com) with a picture of your creations! 

xoxo Karen June


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I Love Beach Music

I Love Beach Music

by Wendy Lane Bailey 

To most people the phrase “Beach Music” means whatever you happen to have on your playlist to while away an afternoon in the sun, but to those of us who spent our formative years on the southern half of the Eastern Seaboard it’s a whole lot more. It’s a genre and a way of life. It is the very sound of summer.

Beach Music is originated in the Carolinas in the years after World War II combining elements of swing, R and B, country and pop.

Louis Prima & Keely Smith – Just a Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody - While not an official part of the Beach Music Scene, Louisiana born Prima and artists like him had a big influence on the genre’s sound.

Beach Music makes you feel good. Even the ballads are peppy. If you’re in the mood to contemplate man’s inhumanity to man, this ain’t your jam. I defy you to put on The Tams’ Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy and not crack and smile. 

The Tams – Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy – One of Jimmy Buffett’s favorite bands. His Album Beach House on the Moon is an homage to Beach Music and features the Tams on the track Flesh & Bone
 

This is music to shag to. Now before our English Cousins, and you Austin Powers fans get your knickers in a twist; the Shag, AKA the Carolina Shag, is a dance that came out of the beach music scene. It’s similar to the bop, and the jitterbug but with a flavor all its own.

Ten time National Shag Champions Charlie Womble & Jackie McGee. Go ahead, and try it you know you want to … I did and Spawn and felines fled in terror, but I had fun. (The song is Kelley Hunt’s Queen of the 88s)
 

This is my August soundtrack; it brings back memories of good friends, good times and carefree days. Now, I’m off to hunt down my dancing shoes…

Jim Quick & Coastline – Down South 


Follow Wendy Lane Bailey, Little Yellow Couch's Musical Consultant each month as she infuses a bit of music into each of our themes!

Waterfront Vignette

For our "On The Waterfront" vignette I really wanted to see if I could put something together that didn't scream NAUTICAL.  Not that I don't love signal flags (you'll see some in another post), blue & white stripes (half of my wardrobe is striped) and anchors (did you see our pajama post?)...it's just that you can find "nautical decor" everywhere from The Christmas Tree Shops to high end boutiques.  And I was getting a little bored.  

So instead, I started with a piece of coral which I picked up at Seed To Stem.  This is the real deal, not a drawing of coral that you can find on every pillow, napkin and tote bag known to man. (Again, not that I'm judging, of course.  I happen to have a huge piece of coral painted directly onto my powder room wall).  But, like I said, I was getting a little bored with the coral trend.  Except when it comes to actual coral.  I was also lucky to find this little brass container that had developed an nicely aged patina and reminded me of the brass that was (and still is sometimes) used on boat hardware.  (The letter "Z" tag I bought on a trip to Paris and have been waiting for just right place to put it).  

I've been collecting vintage paint-by-numbers for a little while and had a major score the other day when I found one of a harbor scene for 5 bucks at Salvation Army.  I thought It would be a great backdrop for the vignette but it ended up making the whole thing too busy.  The frame, however, was just what I needed to make the coral stand out.  And I couldn't resist hanging a postcard of a vintage ship drawing from one corner.  (You gotta have at least one little boat in a "Waterfront" vignette, right?).  

Most of us now associate blue as the primary color of nautical decor.  But on one of my frequent thrift store trips I happened to see a small green vase that was the same shade of green you see in authentic sea glass.  Not the pure "pretty" green you see in reproduction pieces but that green-with-a-touch-of-mud shade that reminds me of old bottles I'd collected from antique shops that dot the coastline of Maine.  I thought I could do something with the green instead of relying on blue.  I remembered I had a few other pieces and pulled them out as well.  

The other elements I had around my house: the iron whale bottle opener, a shell my son and I found on one of our beach combing expeditions, a small vessel with green trim that reflected the green glass vibe and finally, Karen's idea to use my blue & white Pastis bottle for an understated nod to the traditional colors of all things "nautical."  

I think this is one of my favorite vignettes of the past year.  I'm partial to nautical bric-a-brac anyway, but this feels very personal to me, which is the whole point of creating vignettes in the first place!  

Share your photos of anything you've done to bring out your inner sailor in your home!  We'd love to see them!

xoxo Zandra

Shopping List: The Waterfront Home

One of the fun things we get to do each month is create a wish list of (mostly) handmade objects we'd love to own.  These shopping lists always relate to our theme and earlier this month, we shared our favorite "On The Waterfront" accessories.  And here's what we're loving for our waterfront dream homes.  If you're inspired to purchase any of these gems, let us know!  Or just leave a comment telling us which item would top your list.  It's always more fun to "shop" with a friend!  

  1. Whales Canvas Wall Chart via ARMINHO
  2. Conch Nautical Tea Towel via Apple White Handmade
  3. The Menacing of the East River Bridge via Alternate Histories
  4. Giant Anchor Cross Stitch via JD Makes Things
  5. Vintage Brass Whale via The White Pepper
  6. Sailing Ships Cake Topper via Madeline Trait
  7. Coral and White Octopus Serving Dish via Jessica Howard Ceramics
  8. Buoy Print via Laura George 
  9. Ceramic Anchor Sugar and Creamer Set via Scout Mob
  10. Nautical Sisal Rope Lamp via Unique's Custom Decor & Lighting
  11. Sea Urchin Terrarium via Robin Charlotte
  12. Corals Blue Edition Bookends via Design Atelier Article
  13. Rowboat Photography via Katherine Gendreau Photography
  14. Nautical Doormat via Karen's Rope Work
  15. The Captain Silhouette via The Little Chickadee

DIY: Vintage Swim Rings

When Karen and I were at the Country Living Fair in June, we picked up these little achievement pins which were presumably given out when a swimmer would pass a new level of instruction.  We immediately grabbed them, knowing we couldn't pass up the fantastic colors and graphic design.  Pretty quickly Karen figured out she wanted to make them into rings and they've become a staple accessory for each of us ever since.  You may be able to find some of your own, or some other kind of small pin at an antiques store or boutique.  If not, you might want to grab one from our shop.  We've only made three of them (and Karen and I have dibs on the first two) so you might want to "dive" in and get yours now!

Materials:

Vintage American Red Cross Swimming Pin Back Button (Zuzu and Olive has a nice collection currently)
20mm Ring Base (Ingredients for Lovely)
Jewelry Pliers
Jewelry Glue

Tips:  

  • Use your pliers to pull the pin back out of your button.
  • In a well ventilated space, add a ring of jewelry glue around the inside perimeter of your ring base.  
  • Set your pin in your ring base and apply a bit of pressure.
  • Allow to dry overnight before wearing.

Off The Shelf: Seafood Cookbooks

These four cookbooks cover mouthwatering recipes from the ocean, lakes, and rivers of the U.S. spanning across the country from the East Coast to the West.  Oh, and there's a little Japanese culinary tradition, too...thanks to a pastry-chef-turned-Sushi-Master from Mississippi!  Keep reading and dig in!

 

LIVING OFF THE SEA On The Island of Chappaquiddick

by Melissa Fager 

Living Off the Sea
$19.20
By Melinda Fager

This is as much a love story as it is a cookbook.  Ms. Fager and her husband have a home on Chappaquiddick, a small island off Cape Cod, and this project is an ode to the sea and it's bounty.  You can feel how smitten they are with their surroundings as they live mostly off of whatever Jeff catches while they're there.  It's full of personal stories, reflections on the flora and fauna of the area, and mouthwatering recipes.  The photography is beautiful (Melinda is a pro) and the prose is best enjoyed in-between sips of Prosecco as you're tending to your fish on the stove.  This cookbook embodies summer seafood at it's best.  


 

IN THE KITCHEN WITH THE PIKE PLACE FISH GUYS

by the crew of Pike Place Fish, Bryan Jarr and Leslie Miller

I'm particularly excited about this cookbook because it resonates with the core of who we are at Little Yellow Couch.  The first chapter is called "The Lost Art of the Fishmonger: It's the Connection That Matters."  We believe that we're at our happiest when we're feeling viscerally connected to an experience and the people who are part of it.  These guys totally get that.  They know their fish and where it comes from.  They know how to sell it and prepare it.  Oh, and they also know a thing or two about throwing it.  My husband and I made a point of watching the famous tossing of the fish between aisles and fishmongers when we were on our honeymoon in Seattle.  (If you haven't had the pleasure, check out this short video:

 

The cookbook really covers everything from how to choose sustainably harvested seafood, to stocking your pantry, to the ins and outs of prep, depending on your final plate requirements.  For the Fish Guys, nothing seems to be off limits when it comes to adding seafood to your diet.  Some of the chapter titles include "Rise & Shine," "Pasta + Fish = Love," "Paella" and "In The Raw."  But probably the best parts of the book are the diagrams showing you the proper way to throw salmon, crab and other fishy creatures.  This book is as entertaining as it is mouth-watering! 

 

COOKING FISH & GAME:  Delicious Recipes from Shore Lunches to Gourmet Dinners

by Paul McGahren

Since I've lived on the coast for most of my life, my seafood experience tends to skew toward the ocean.  But I'd be missing out on a whole lot of deliciousness if I didn't include at least one book on cooking fresh water fish!  In this book, Paul McGahren talks a lot about the fishing end of the culinary pipeline, (as well as the hunting side of things when it comes to land based food), but I think that makes what you're preparing to eat all the more tasty.  Especially for those of us who aren't going to don chest high waders and spend long weekends fly fishing, I appreciate knowing the story behind what goes into the procurement of my meal.  Along side the diagrams and maps of fish and their locales are simple and elegant recipes for all kinds of fresh water fish.  You're going to need a lot of napkins to catch the marinades dribbling down your chin!  

 

SUSHI SECRETS: Easy Recipes for the Home Cook

by Marisa Baggett

I was hooked (ha ha) on this book as soon as I read the introduction.  Marisa Baggett started out as a pastry chef and made the happy mistake of agreeing to serve sushi at a private party.  Even though she had never had sushi in her life.  Ha!  I knew immediately that I would love her if I met her and that she would be the only person who had a snowball's chance of convincing me I could make sushi, too.  (She explains her story and ultimately winds up forgoing everything for the pursuit of sushi chef greatness.  And her book would be a indication that she has arrived!).  The cookbook is broken down the way any novice would want it to be.  She cover the eight different kinds of sushi, which types are good for different circumstances (including kid-friendly, and budget-friendly varieties), how to plan out an entire meal, the ingredients and tools needed for the recipes and how to select fish properly.  There are also primers on sauces, condiments, making hand rolls and making rice (both the perfect kind and the almost-perfect-microwave-kind for those of us who are lazy and aren't ashamed to admit it).  Recipes include sashimi and ceviche as well as sushi and, miraculously, they actually seem attainable!  I'm having tuna roll cravings as I write this...gotta go....

xoxo Zandra

DIY: Nautical Coasters with Smock Paper

These coasters would make a great hostess gift if you happen to be staying at someone's beach or lake house this summer.  Or make a set for yourself to remind you of beach-y vacations!  We used our favorite paper for decoupage, generously provided to us by SMOCK, a small, independent letterpress and stationer in upstate NY.  For more nautical paper options from Smock, scroll to the end of this post.  We've got the DIY steps, materials list and a printable for you below.

Materials:
Decorative paper (we got ours via Smock), cut into four 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" squares
Felt, cut into four 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" squares
Mod Podge
Paint brush
Exacto knife or scissors
Bone folder or credit card
Four ceramic tiles (found at home improvement stores), 4" x 4"
Craft glue
Shellac

Step 1:  Brush a thin, even layer of Mod Podge onto the top of a ceramic tile, making sure you brush the glue all the way to the edges.  Place your decorative paper wrong side up in front of you.  Center the glue side of the tile onto the paper.  Flip over and use the bone folder or the edge of a credit card to smooth out any air bubbles making sure the paper is completely adhered to the tile.   
 

Step 2:  Trim the corners of the paper.  

Step 3:  Brush glue onto each edge of the paper, one side at a time.  Fold each side onto back edge of the tile, pressing down with your fingers.  Wrap as you would a present.  

Step 4:  Once all four sides are glued down, flip the tile over.  Print out the images we've created of the framed ships (printable is at the end of this post).  Cut them out and apply one to each coaster, using the Mod Podge to glue the image on.  Brush two thin layers of Mod Podge over entire coaster, allowing time to dry between coats.  

Step 5:  Turn the coaster over again and run a line of glue around the perimeter, about a 1/2" in from the edge.  Place the felt on top of the glue.  (We used black felt in our example coaster and a gray felt in the "materials" photo so you could see what it was.  Any color will do).  

Step 6:  Once the two coats of Mod Podge have dried, spray each coaster with a coat of Shellac (or if you have the liquid kind from can, brush the Shellac over each coaster).  Now you've sealed the coasters and can use them for hot or cold beverages!

 

Print This!  Here's a copy of each of the collaged images we put together for our coasters.

On The Waterfront: Ship Coasters

Smock has several nautical designs that would work for your coasters.  We used "Anchor" but you could also try "Chatham," "Breakers," or "Fremont," with or without the image of the ships.  

Happy Sails!

xoxo Zandra

Retreat for Small Businesses and Indie Creatives

As we come upon our blog's 1st year anniversary this September, Karen and I knew we had to make time for some big picture thinking about our business.  Earlier this week, we shared our ideas on how to hold a creative retreat for exploring artistic endeavors.  Today, we're going to show you how we put together our business retreat.  We encourage all of you other small business owners (bloggers, indie creatives, artisans) to take time out to reassess your big picture, drill down into the nitty-gritty of the "to-do" lists and dream about the near and far future.   And leave a little time for some beach combing, too.  

Since our theme this month is "On The Waterfront," we have beaches, lakes and rivers on our minds as the perfect retreat settings.  We were lucky enough to use a beach cottage owned by Karen's parents on the South Shore of Massachusetts.  (Thank you, Barbara and James! ).  

Preparation and Logistics

If you're a solo entrepreneur, ask a few friends who are also running a small business and go in on this together.  You can keep each other on task and afterwards, you'll have the benefit of being accountable to each other for the goals you've written on the retreat.  As the host, you might want to consider preparing a little welcome gift for your guests.  Or, when you invite your friends, you could ask that everyone bring something for someone else.  Sort of a summer time "Secret Santa" kind of thing.  Here are the baskets that Karen and I made up for each other:

Karen put together all of the pieces I'd need to make a bespoke journal, specially designed for our retreat.  She cut up small squares of nautical paper and sewed smaller squares on top creating labels for some of the most important things we'd talk about.  To attach the labels, there's some nifty blue and white striped fabric tape (very beach-y!) as well as a dispenser for blank tape.  She also included a rubber stamp that's laid out like a to-do list so I could keep myself in check.  She then decoupaged a blank journal with some of my favorite whale paper (and added another whale inside the cover).  But probably my favorite thing was the vintage trading card picturing my favorite seaside bird, the Loon.

For Karen's basket, I tried to think of objects that would make her feel a little pampered on the retreat.  I found her a drinking glass to have at her side as we were planning and scheming.  It's painted with two girls rowing a canoe, in keeping with our waterfront theme.  There's a chocolate bar because that's pretty much a necessity.  I also embellished a journal for Karen and added some festive looking sticky note flags and a set of colored pencils.  She loves scented candles so one of those made it in the stash so she could light it before bed.  And speaking of bed, I appliqued a big number 3 (that's her favorite number) on a pillowcase for her to use over the weekend.  

Everyone can get a little punchy when they're spending lots of time hashing out big picture thoughts.  To embrace this, we came up with a bright idea (pun intended...keep reading).  We cut out yellow lightbulb shapes and glued them onto skewers, keeping them within reach.  Whenever one of us had a brilliant brainstorm, we'd grab a lightbulb, jump up and down and scream out our idea.  (Karen and I are known to be quite loud when we're excited).  We also had strips of paper at the ready so we could record the idea and stick it on the lightbulb.  I highly recommend making a batch of your own lightbulbs before your retreat.

And here's where the magic happens, people!  (Oh, yes, retreats do encourage magical thinking!).  

We spent quite a few hours here, writing on a big sheet of butcher paper we rolled out on the table.  And when we needed a change of scenery, we took our laptops and moved a few feet over to the couch.  We had antipasto for dinner (no cooking, no clean-up, no leaving the cottage) and reveled in the knowledge that we didn't have to stop talking at a specific time.  To make the most of the weekend, we put together an agenda and stuck to it.  We've made a template for you to use for your own retreat.  If you work alone and are bringing a few other solo-preneurs with you, you can all use the same template but obviously, you'll each write out your own agendas and then share them with the group.  (The sharing is the important part, bouncing ideas around and challenging each other to push past insecurities while not biting off more than you can chew).  

TEMPLATE FOR YOUR AGENDA

Click on this link to download a printable agenda for you to follow on your own creative business retreat.

If you do decide to create a retreat for yourself and a few colleagues, please, please let us know!  We'd love to share your photos and stories with the rest of our readers!

xoxo Zandra

DIY: Pajama Pants, Nautical Style

We usually take photos of our monthly parties and have planned out appropriate wardrobes.  But we were a little stumped as to what we'd be wearing for a business retreat.  Add to this the fact that we're going away for two nights and we're used to bringing at least 5 pairs of shoes on any vacation.  But for once, shoes and other accessories would be on the back burner for this particular Little Yellow Couch event.  We expected to be working all day and wanted to be comfortable.  But naturally, we still want to look good, right?   Even if we were never to leave the beach cottage!  So we decided to compromise.  We made lounging PJs with fabric that felt "beach-y," channeling some sweet little boutique you'd see on Nantucket or Hilton Head.  We think they are a nice combo of comfort and style.   And we're happy to report we got a lot of work done while lounging around...and we looked pretty snazzy, if we do say so ourselves.   

xoxo Zandra & Karen June

Materials:

Your Favorite Pair of Pajama Bottoms (to use as a pattern)
2 1/2 yds. Cotton Fabric
1 Fat Quarter Contrasting Cotton Fabric (Cuffs & Pockets)
Small Scraps of a Second Contrasting Fabric (Pocket Edging)
1 yd. Cotton Twill Tape
Fabric Scissors
Straight Pins
Sewing Thread
Sewing Machine

Fold your 2 1/2 yds. of fabric in half lengthwise with right sides facing together.  Fold your favorite pajama pants in half with crotch pulled toward the front.  Pin your pants to your folded fabric.  Cut out your fabric leaving a 5/8" seam allowance along outside and inseams.  Leave a 1" allowance at the cuffs and 2" allowance at the waistline.   (I tend to be a bit generous while cutting.)  When cutting out your seam allowance for the inside and outside seams, make sure to stretch out the waistband for a true measurement along the top.  Remove the pins and pajama pants. You now have the front side of your new pants.  Fold your pattern pants in half again with the crotch pulled toward the back to cut out the back side and repeat the above steps.  Now you have the front and back sides of your pants.

Repin your fabric together just along the curve on both paired pieces.  Sew both seams at 5/8".

Open both pieces and match them up with right sides together.  Start by lining up the center of the crotches and then pin outwards down the inseam to the leg bottoms.  Sew together at 5/8".  

Pin your pants together along both outside seams again with right sides together.  Sew at 5/8".  

Fold your cuffs up towards the wrong side twice about 1/2" and edge stitch to finish.

Fold your waistband down towards the wrong side 1/2" then 1 1/2" to create a waistband. Edge stitch to finish and then sew a second seam about 1" from the top to create a channel for your drawstring.  

Fold the end of your twill tape down and feed a safety pin through it.  Cut a tiny slit in the seam between the edge stitching and channel stitching on your waistband.  Feed the twill tape all the way through your channel until you reach the beginning.  You can fold the ends of the twill tape over twice and stitch them to avoid fraying.  

Cut two strips of fabric 2 1/2" wide and just longer than the circumference of your cuffs. Iron both long and short edges in 1/4".  

Pin to the bottom of your cuffs and edge stitch to finish.  

Cut a rectangle of your contrasting fabric 4" w x 5" h.  Cut a strip of your second contrasting fabric 4"w by 2 1/2" h.  Pin right sides together as shown and stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance.  

Iron seam open then iron in half toward the back and edge stitch.  

Iron seams folding in twice at 1/4".  

Pin to the back of your pants and edge stitch on three sides to create a pocket.  We added two pockets to our pajama pants because frankly two pockets are cuter than one! 

Planning a Creative Retreat

As you may know, at Little Yellow Couch we typically host a party to reflect whichever theme we've been exploring for the month.  Since our current theme is "On The Waterfront," we thought hosting a retreat at a beach house would be an unexpected but exciting event to stand in for a party.  We've imaged two different kinds of retreats to share this week.  The first one is a creative retreat.  

We love this book!  Get more info here.  There's a "buy it" button at the end of this post.  

We love this book!  Get more info here.  There's a "buy it" button at the end of this post.  

If you need some time away to get out of a creative rut, (or if being creatively uninhibited amidst colored pencils, journals, glue, paint, scissors and canvases sounds like a great way to spend a weekend) mobilize a few friends and host your own creative retreat.  Sure there are fancy ones already out there that we'd highly recommend, but in the spirit of DIY everything, you could have just as much fun and be equally productive with one custom tailored for you, BY you.  

To put together a creative retreat, we have been terrifically inspired by Danielle Krysa's new book, "Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas.  Advice and Projects From 50 Successful Artists."   Danielle is an artist in her own right and she also writes the blog "The Jealous Curator," where she shares the art of people she admires.    

Mustache Master, embroidery and collage, by Danielle Krysa

Mustache Master, embroidery and collage, by Danielle Krysa

Along with gorgeous photos of each artist's work, Danielle gets everyone to talk about the balance between their sense of self-worth and making art for public consumption.  She also asks them how they deal with criticism, both from within and from others, and what they do when they've hit a wall.  While the book isn't intended to be a guide for hosting a creative retreat, we couldn't help but want to use the artists' exercises as a template for mini workshops!  Before we get to some of the exercises, we've turned the tables on Danielle and put her in the hot seat by asking her some of her own questions, as well as talking about how she'd go about planning a creative retreat.  

Growth, No. 1, collage by Danielle Krysa

Growth, No. 1, collage by Danielle Krysa

Little Yellow Couch:  Along with writing the blog, "The Jealous Curator," about other artists and their pursuits, you are also an artist yourself.  Do you embrace or battle your inner critic?

Danielle Krysa:  Oh, it's a battle! My inner critic doesn't usually have anything nice to say, so embracing it really isn't an option. I am learning to ignore it though! I have finally started to realize that it doesn't deserve the power I've given it over the last decade or two. Time for him to shut up for awhile.

LYC:  What about outside criticism?  How do you separate constructive criticism from unhelpful critiques?  

DK:  That's hard too. In my book, a lot of the artists say that you have to think about where the criticism is coming from. If it's delivered in a kind way from someone you trust/respect then you should listen, but if it's just mean and coming from someone that you don't know or trust then it should be ignored. Easier said then done, but knowing that every other artist in the world has to face this too makes me realize I'm not alone in this situation. One of my favorite quotes is from Jessica Bell. She says "Unkind judgement is really just a distraction. I can usually eat some potato chips and sleep it off." HA! I love that so much. Maybe because I love potato chips ;)

LYC:  We love this question you pose to other artists: "Do you ever equate your self worth with your success?" because it really gets to the heart of what it means to live with yourself as an artist on a daily basis.  

DK:  Yes, I asked all of the artists in my book this question... I didn't realize until right now how hard that is to answer! I suppose it depends what kind of "success" we're talking about. The answer is YES if we're talking about art, design, curating etc. I work hard and I want to succeed. Being Type A is definitely part of my DNA, and when things don't go the way I want them to, yes, my self worth takes a hit. However, if I get really deep for a minute and think about this a bit more, the answer is probably NO. As soon as I became a mother, outside validation became pretty meaningless to me. What mattered most was being a good mom, and a well-rounded person for my son. Professional success takes a back seat to that every time.

LYC:  So what do you do when you're feeling blocked?

DK:  I used to just quit. And be realllllly grouchy. As the interviews and unblocking exercises started rolling in from the artists though, I tried them immediately (long before the book was actually on shelves). One of my favorite things to do is grab a fancy coffee and pop into a thrift shop. Old books seem to be a great place for me to get started. I also have been using an unblocking project from Kate Pugsley (p.175) and am loving it! You paint blocks of your favorite colors on to sheets of paper, let them dry, cut them up into random shapes, and then assemble the pieces into some kind of composition. It's so fun, and most importantly, freeing! I played a lot, recycled a whole bunch of them, but I actually have two new finished pieces that I really love. Who knew!? ;)

LYC:  The exercises offered by the artists in your book feel to us like they could be the basis for workshops held during a creative retreat.  Have you thought about offering one?  

DK:  I did do a series of workshops called GIRL CRUSH, from San Francisco to Philly.  This was pre-book mind you, so yes, I'd love to do another workshop/retreat that is more closely tied to CREATIVE BLOCK. We'll see!

Blossom Princess, mixed media by Danielle Krysa

Blossom Princess, mixed media by Danielle Krysa

LYC:  What do you think would be the best way to approach a weekend away with nothing to do but work on your art?

DK:  Oh, that sounds so nice! I think the first step would be removing technology. No distractions from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. I'd also head into it with a bit of a plan... maybe a few unblocking projects ready to go, with all of the necessary supplies at your finger tips. I think heading off to a quiet weekend with just a blank notebook, or blank canvas would be way too intimidating. Sometimes when the possibilities are endless, you just never get started.

LYC:  What would be your ideal retreat location...city, woods, farm, seashore?  

DK:  Hmmm. I think it would be a tie between woods and seashore. Maybe seashore. I love looking out over the ocean, and the smell of salt water. I find that very calming.

LYC:  If you were to create a retreat for yourself and a few friends, what do you imagine would be the ideal schedule for the weekend?  

DK:  I think it would be a morning of walks, coffee, talking, and a few creative exercises that we could do together >> Delicious lunch >> Then an afternoon on my own to work on whatever got stirred up that morning >> Dinner would be something small and light that I could eat in my studio, because once I get going, usually around 4:30pm, I can't stop! >> Maybe drinks and dessert around 10pm so that we could all recap our day. Repeat.

LYC:  Do you have a creative un-blocking exercise to offer like the ones you share in your book?  

DK:  I actually always do exactly what UK collage artist Anthony Zinonos suggested for my book. I go to a thrift shop and buy one book. Only one, and it can't cost more than $2. I bring it home and try to make six collages using only that book. It's really fun, and usually has pretty good results.  In fact, both the stacked plants and the stacked Queen E images you're using for this post were created using that technique!  

50 Shades Of Earl Gray, collage by Danielle Krysa

50 Shades Of Earl Gray, collage by Danielle Krysa

As mentioned above, in Danielle's book, she asks each artist she's interviewed to come up with an exercise that will help you get out of your creative block.  Here are a few of our favorites that we think would be perfectly suited to do as part of your creative retreat.  Just make sure you've gathered all the necessary supplies for each participant ahead of time.  

Writing Exercise 

Buy five old photographs at an antiques shop (for the retreat host, you'd want to do this ahead of time).  Put a timer on for 30 minutes and write a one paragraph story for each photo.  (Based on the exercise by Sidney Pink on page 103 of the book "Creative Block," by Danielle Krysa).

Photography Exercises

Walk around the retreat space inside or out and take close ups of parts of objects that you wouldn't notice at first glance.  Share your photos with the group and see if they can guess what they are.  (Based on the exercise by Matthias Heiderich on page 59 of the book "Creative Block," by Danielle Krysa). 

Take a half hour and try to photograph 10 "faces in places," where you look for a "face" inside an object or group of objects such as the windows and doors of a building, a group of dishes, a vase, whatever.  (Based on the exercise by Jennifer Davis on page 235 of the book "Creative Block," by Danielle Krysa).  

Drawing and Painting Exercises

Find a quote that speaks to you (for the retreat host, you could bring along a few "famous quotes" books).  Write it out, using fanciful handwriting, drawing embellishments amongst the letters.  You could do several of these in a notebook that you dedicate for this exercise, continuing to do one per day after you leave the retreat.  (Based on the exercise by Mary Kate McDevitt on page 41 of the book "Creative Block," by Danielle Krysa).

Catalogue the contents of a medicine cabinet, refrigerator, kitchen cupboards, etc.  Draw or paint each item separately.  Make a book out of the images.  (Based on an exercise by Kate Bingaman-Burt from the book "Creative Block," by Danielle Krysa).  

Collage Exercise

Take a stack of papers and start painting broad swaths of different colors across each one.  Once they're dry, cut out shapes from each paper, either random shapes or recognizable silhouettes.  Rearrange the shapes ontop of a new sheet of paper and start gluing or taping them down as you start to see compositions that please you.  (Based on  the exercise by Kate Pugsley on page 175 of the book "Creative Block," by Danielle Krysa). 

Group Exercise

Put a bunch of random objects on a table.  Let each person take a turn arranging the items however they like.  After each new arrangement is made, everyone writes down an art title or news headline that describes the assemblege.  Share with the group.   (Based on an exercise by Camilla Engman on page 219 of the book "Creative Block," by Danielle Krysa).  

Later this week, we'll talk about some other ideas for hosting a retreat, including how to make your guests feel welcome.  Stay tuned!

xoxo Zandra

Cocktail: Waterfront Margarita

Our favorite cocktails of the moment are often inspired by the season.  During the summer months in New England, our family spends a lot of time along the seashore.  With sand between our toes and the salty air blowing through our hair, the perfect cocktail must be refreshing and relaxed.  

Jason has been chomping at the bit to create a drink with fresh watermelon.  As with any cocktail he creates, he is looking to add an unexpected flavor or handcrafted touch and this libation has both!  The jalapeño adds a surprising kick against the refreshing watermelon and the addition of fresh basil leaves marries the two with its nod towards both the peppery and sweet sides.  

Whether you pour this cocktail seaside, lakeside or on your back deck this summer, make sure to check out Wendy Lane Bailey's musical suggestion below and we hope you are at least metaphorically able to sail off into the sunset!

xoxo Karen June & Jason

Waterfront Margarita

3 oz Watermelon Juice
2 oz Tequila
1 oz Agave Nectar
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
2 Slices of Jalapeño
6 Basil Leaves
Ice Cubes

Sea Salt
Frozen Watermelon Cubes

Watermelon Juice:

  1. Cube half of a Watermelon.
  2. Add to a blender and blend until liquified.
  3. Strain with coarse strainer to remove seeds and pulp.

Directions:

  1. Muddle Basil Leaves and Jalapeño Slices in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add liquid ingredients and a handful of Ice Cubes.  
  3. Shake and strain into a Sea Salt rimmed glass.
  4. For an extra indulgence, cube the reminder of watermelon and freeze.  Add to your drink to keep it cool.

Close your eyes, take a sip, and sail off into the sunset with Kate Rusby.  Love, Wendy

Follow Wendy Lane Bailey, Little Yellow Couch's Musical Consultant each month as she infuses a bit of music into each of our themes!

 

 

Shopping List: Accessories

We are sharing our love for all things "On The Waterfront" this month.  If you are looking to accessorize this summer, check out our favorites below.  All of these items are designed and made by hand.   They are a great way to not only look stylish while paddling your canoe or sailing on the open seas, but also support independent artists!  

xoxo Karen June & Zandra

  1. Gold Glitter & Turquoise Envelope Clutch via This Loves That
  2. In The Navy Button Charm Bracelet via So Sam
  3. Temporary Tattoo with Anchor via Tattoorary
  4. Anchor Tank Top via Skip N' Whistle
  5. Recycled Sail Cloth Bag via Reiter 8
  6. Waterproof Sail Tote via Ikabags
  7. Coral Infinity Scarf via Gertie & Baxter
  8. Wooden Geometric Necklace via Belle Accessoires
  9. Chevron iPhone Case via Cases by Csera
  10. White Water Ring via Andys House
  11. Luna Rope Necklace in Coral via Goldhearted Jewelry 

Painted Moroccan Rocks

These painted stones started out as simple rocks that I've collected outside my family's cottage on the Massachusetts shoreline.  It's a relaxing activity while we're at the beach and I love bringing them home and placing them around my deck and in my planters throughout the summer.  Here's my process using graphite paper and calligraphy ink.  If you can trace a design, you can make these!  

Materials:

Smooth Beach Stones
Graphite Transfer Paper
Pen or Pencil
Wide Paintbrush
Detail Paintbrush
Calligraphy Ink
Clear Spray Shellac*

*If you plan on having your rocks outside, give them a couple of coats of spray shellac.


Using your wide paintbrush, paint a few coats of white ink on the top surface of your stone.

Search pattern sourcebooks or online for detailed designs.  I found some great photographs of Moroccan tiles. Using your graphite paper, transfer your design onto your painted stone.  

Using your detailed brush and one of your ink colors, begin filling in your design outline.  It is best to work from the inside of the design out or let the ink dry between coats.  Calligraphy ink dries fairly quickly, so I was able to paint my stone in one sitting.  

Continue painting, adding on the next color.  You will notice that I did the blue dots freehand.  You do not need to transfer your entire design to your stone especially for a fairly simple detail.  

I enjoy working with calligraphy ink as it flows nicely.  I generally dip my brush in and work on the outlines from the center to the edges, pushing my ink out to the lines as I paint.  

Each color ads another layer of depth to your design and it is exciting to see it coming together.  

As a final step, using black ink outline your colored design.  Don't worry, it doesn't need to be perfect!  I actually love the look of a bit of color seeping out from underneath the outline!  

Happy rock painting!

xoxo Karen June