Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Dunes Near Culloden Point

I took a number of pictures of the dunes leading up to the beach near my house recently. By summer's end I am hoping to pull together a cool portfolio of pictures just focused on the beaches in Montauk, so I am on the lookout for items and people of interest-- it was the fence that caught my eye this time!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Flip Flops By Day...Wedge Heels By Night

I love that Montauk is so casual. I can go anywhere I need to go in my flip flops by day, and most places even welcome my flip flops by night. The cool thing is, if I have the urge to dress up, there are places where people can ooh and ahh over my Charles David wedge heels, which I absolutely adore. I bought them last season when my heel got caught in-between those little slats on the dock at the Montauk Yacht Club, and I, without a shred of grace or poise, fell on my arse. So I've learned, there's no heel like a wedge heel. They give me height, they evenly distribute my weight, and reduce my chances of an outright swan dive.

One place I would recommend if you feel like getting fancy in-season is East By Northeast (ENE). Interesting food, great drinks, well dressed folks, and another view of Fort Pond. One place I have not yet ventured into (the long lines and beautiful people had me shy away last year), is The Surf Lodge. I have never been but I've heard all sorts of interesting things about the place. Some locals seem to hate it; visitors seem to love it. Without having been brave enough to venture in myself, I cannot form any sort of opinion-- but I do think they have a cool website. If you've been...let me know how it is...or perhaps I'll finally check it our for myself...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

The weather in Montauk may not be the best for getting outside and enjoying the sun today, but have a wonderful Earth Day! If you live near a beach, check out Ocean Conservancy to find out how you can help preserve our beautiful beaches by taking part in the next International Coastal Cleanup. Start a Sea Change!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Village of East Hampton

East Hampton is yet another fun area to stop off in on your way out to Montauk. The vibe is not as quaint as Amagansett-- it is harder to describe, with shopping like Manhattan on a small town main street with one hour parking...I won't lie, the parking is a pain. There is an area with two hour parking as well, but for some reason I always feel rushed when I am out and about there.

The shopping does not involve your normal medley of stores, but rather upscale boutiques such as Tory Burch, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany's-- you get the picture. The headquarters of the Hamptons International Film Festival are also located there, as well as a restaurant that I love: Rowdy Hall. They have an amazing vegetarian chili, good burgers-- something for everyone. East Hampton is also home to a restaurant/inn that I am dying to try-- the famed 1770 House. I first saw this spot when it aired on Barefoot Contessa (yes, I watch a lot of Food Network...I should probably watch less and actually cook more!) and I am waiting for the perfect occasion to drop in for a bite.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dish it Out-- Coastal Style

My plates from CB2 have arrived, and I am not opening the box until I complete all of the tasks on my "To Do List" (there are a total of 2o items, so this will be a busy week!). In looking for some fun dinnerware, I also came across these octopus plates from Anthropologie, featured in their From the Deep Collection. This collection houses an assortment of plates, from kissing fish, to boats and more, all ranging from $14-$24. Check out their Life at Sea tumblers as well, and their Sea Creature Tea Set for a funky tea party even Alice would love!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bathroom Pics

Thought I would share this picture of the main bathroom. As you can see, it has beadboard walls, tile floors, and there is also a fabulous skylight above the bathtub (you can see the light filtering through). The lighthouse rug was another housewarming gift-- I love the bright colors, so I picked out towels that match that same color scheme...and coordinate with each bedroom! This system also helps me keep things organized when guests are over-- if your designated color is blue, don't let me catch you with a yellow towel!

Greetings From Annapolis!

To prep for the upcoming wedding that I will be shooting, I took a quick trip to Annapolis, MD. The weather was fair (it could have been 10 degrees warmer for me!), the seafood fabulous, and I was able to find some cool "shot spots." Mission Accomplished!

My first introduction with this fun, coastal town was via my friend who attended the United States Naval Academy (in the historic district). The area is also home to a number of interesting shops, great restaurants, and even The National Sailing Hall of Fame. If you love to sail, Annapolis is a great spot to get your fix. Re-Sails, a store that makes unique products from used sails, is also located near the City Dock, and has a number of great gifts for that special sailor in your life!

While there is no beach (sans sand), the beautiful harbor views and historic homes make up for it, as well as the myriad of art galleries. I did not visit any of the galleries this time, but I did have a fabulous lunch at McGarvey's Saloon and Oyster Bar-- their steamed seafood sampler hit the spot. See ya next time!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On the Way to the Beach I Saw a Duck

The Great American Road Trip goes hand and hand with Beach Pop Culture. Years ago, people didn't surf the web for travelocity deals or plan every detail of their journey through trip advisor-- if your family was taking a vacation, you just got in the car and drove. I can still remember the steps: your parents packed the car, then they packed you in, and then you drove, testing how long you could make it before needing a pitstop!

These road trips allowed for something kinda special-- the element of surprise. Sometimes, along the way, you would pass a real roadside gem-- something so kitschy you begged your parents to stop. For me, the roadside attraction that always struck me was The Big Duck. Built in 1931 by Riverhead duck farmer Martin Maurer, this 20 foot tall, 30 foot long structure even features red tail lights from a Model T Ford for eyes (they kinda glow red at night!). Maurer used the structure as a store to sell his Peking Ducks to passing travelers.

The Big Duck's roadside location has shifted over the years, but to date it still stands in Flanders, and I smile every time I pass it on the drive out to Montauk. A few weeks ago, I indulged myself, and stopped (yes, I stopped), breakfast in hand, and sat at one of the nearby picnic tables to pay homage to this giant that watched over so many of my trips to the beach growing up. He may not be number one on trip advisor, but he's tops on the Blue Gull Beach House's list!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The First Annual Montauk Music Festival

For those of you looking to enjoy the beach a little early this year (and maybe beat some of that summer traffic), Montauk has some cool upcoming events, including the first annual Montauk Music Festival sponsored by The Montauk Sun. From May 13-16 various bands will play throughout different venues in Montauk, their music covering a wide spectrum of sound (country, rock, jazz, blues). Looking forward to what I hope will be a great event!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Livingroom Pics

Thought I would share a few more pics from the livingroom-- the couch has been great, it's actually a pull out, and I love that all of the covers are machine washable. The white tables are also courtesy of IKEA-- I love the fact that the coffee table has a drawer that pushes through both ways with different compartments. Right now, I've got my blue starfish and some sand dollars in there, I'm still thinking about what beachy stuff I can house in that drawer!

The sofa table also has a glass top with open shelves...yes, more starfish! They seemed to bring the least amount clutter while giving things a bit of a coastal touch. I found them on quality shells, a discount shell store that enables you to purchase seashells from all different parts of the world. Montauk does have a number of great shells, but I thought it would be fun to bring in a few that wash up naturally on other shores.

Of course, with a glass top table you need to be careful-- I received one of the best housewarming gifts to help me with that-- these gorgeous blue coasters made out of geode rock. They are the perfect platform for any cocktail!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Amagansett: Another Unincorporated Hamlet

In getting accquainted with Montauk and its surrounding areas I have had to learn a little bit about geography, erosion, and the differences between towns and villages and hamlets oh my. I think I've finally got my map straight! So here is how it works: Montauk, an unincorporated hamlet, is part of the town of East Hampton (as is the Village of East Hampton, a bit of Sag Harbor, and the other unincorporated hamlets: Wainscott, Springs and Amagansett).

Amagansett is Montauk's closest neighbor, and right now is a running favorite of mine. Its main street area is small on size, big on charm, and home to the nearby Indian Wells Beach. There are a number of antique shops, a hardware store (with the most adorable little new puppy you have ever seen...yes, I love dogs), an art supply store, camera store, and a few restuarants including one of my favorites, Indian Wells Tavern.

There is also a Marine Museum which overlooks the ocean and details Eastern Long Island's fishing and whaling history. I have not yet had an opportunity to check it out, but I hope to do so soon.

If you have a chance, if you are driving through to Montauk, stop off here, even if just to ooh and ahh and the amazing homes, some almost barn-like in their presence, many with breathtaking beach views. The drive through East Hampton can be really relaxing (note: there is summer traffic so you have got to plan ahead) and is free of any billboards, gas stations or other clutter. Just open village greens like the one to the left, and miles and miles of beach...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Beach House for Your Fish!

I saw this post on Live Modern and I had to share! This little beach condo was created by Teddy Luong, a student at Carleton University's School of Industrial Design. I believe Unica Home is taking advanced orders, so have Mr. Bubbles' real estate agent call his people to get things ready for this season! I love it, totally a fun twist on that plain fishbowl I had growing up! Check out the original article on PrarieMod.

Lighten Up !

One of my favorite coastal accents at the Blue Gull Beach House is the lantern hanging in the foyer in the picture to the left (it's a small foyer, so maybe I should just call it the spot where you kick your flip flops off!).

Lanterns are a great way to add to your beach shack vibe, and Pottery Barn has a wide selection of them to choose from this season, in varying price ranges, shapes, sizes and colors. You don't really need to be using them as functional pieces, you can have them in the background on your shelving or use them to brighten up the great outdoors (PB is also featuring a special: free shipping on all lanterns). I'm liking this red one but the image is not posting (technical difficulties!)-- picturing a fun table setting for July 4th!

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Montauk Bucket List

Every summer I make a list. Something a little like a bucket list, highlighting all of the things that I vow I will do before the northeast temperatures begin their steady decline. I will run more. I will sunbathe. I will get some highlights. I will look amazing in an overpriced bikini...worn at least twice before the season's end.

I have begun a list of things that I must accomplish before the end of Summer 2010, things that I must complete before the Blue Gull Beach House closes it's summer patio. Hold your breath...because I must surf. A few years back I obsessed over water skiing. I told myself, no matter what, I would get up on the first try, hair blowing in the summer breeze like a chic right out of a James Bond movie. I did get up, for what felt like an hour (ok, it lasted in reality a mere ten seconds...but it was some ten seconds!)

This year, I will try my hand at surfing (among other things!). Montauk has a few places where you can take lessons, and I'm game. I encourage you all to make your own "beach bucket lists" with me-- include things from your coastal town that you have always wanted to do, or things you want to do in someone else's coastal town. Get out there and try something new this summer (just be sure to include your own "don't try this at home warning" for the rest of us!).

Beach House Dish: Lovin' the Locals

I heard some buzz on the dining scene for this week-- The Montauk Yacht Club Resort and Marina is offering a 10% discount for locals on food and beverage purchases at their Gulf Coast Kitchen, Hurricane Alley, and Barracuda Bar and Turtle Lounge for the entire season. South Fork residents can register for a savings card when they dine before Memorial Day, and the card can be used on spa and lodging purchases as well. The photo to the left was taken earlier this month: you can see the Yacht Club's famous lighthouse, and some of their rooms which feature cabana-like outer decks in the distance.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fort Pond Area

Montauk is surrounded by beautiful waterviews. It's a great place to get in the car, drive along the coast and just soak everything in. One of my favorite spots for taking pictures is at Fort Pond Bay, inbetween the Montauket and Duryea's Lobster Deck and Seafood Market. This strip is a prime sunset-watching spot.

As some of you know, I am getting ready to photograph a wedding this upcoming Labor Day in Annapolis Maryland, another great coastal town. You can view some engagement pictures that I took of the couple in Washington, D.C. here. They are really excited for their big day, and I am thrilled to be a small part of it!

This next group of pictures also features Fort Pond, and these were taken at one of my favorite spots for a group dinner, Harvest. They specialize in family-style dining, and my Aunt Patty claims that they have the best seafood she has ever tasted (note: she does eat a lot of seafood). Harvest has a seafood bruschetta on the menu that's pretty amazing-- picture a big overflowing tray of mussels, clams, shrimp and scallops with a delicious buttery sauce and yummy bread to soak everything up with.

I am still determining who reigns supreme in Montauk in terms of seafood (The Dock is also excellent and high on my list), but Harvest has great food, drinks and atmosphere. In the summer months you can feed the swans, ducks and coy right off of their little dock on Fort Pond; but unfortunately, during my last trip there the dock was underwater due to the flooding Montauk experienced following the last storm (see the above picture on the left where the water comes all the way up the dock's ramp).

Table Tauk

While I was not able to finish my larger project: painting the bedroom furniture, I did manage to give this little side table a quick and easy update.

I needed a sidetable for the second bedroom, which was previously a kids room. I liked the idea of keeping this second bedroom more playful and fun-- I wanted it to continue to be a place where younger guests would love to stay. So, I brought in some blues and whites via those shark print sheets I was telling you about, and some lobster sheets, to keep the overall vibe sort of funky.

As you can see in the picture on the left, with the help of a little white paint, there is now a cute side table that matches the blues, whites and yellows that accent this bedroom. I found a pillow to keep with the ocean critter theme, and a metal bucket that I absolutely love (It was only $5). Originally, I had no idea what to do with this bucket, but I have decided to transform it into a table lamp for the room. With an old lamp kit (or older lamp), a new shade, and maybe some stones from the beach, I hope that the "lobster lamp" will be a cool addition to the room.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Beach is My Backyard!

I still can't believe how close to the beach the Blue Gull Beach House is-- I love it! I have never lived quite this close to the ocean before. It is appropriate that I live on Gull Road, because in the mornings, the seagulls often sit right on the roof of the house!

The picture to the left is of my private beach, literally a stone's throw away. If I forget my sunblock, or feel like heading back to the house for some lunch (or perhaps a margarita?) all I have to do is hit the pause button on my i-pod and I haven't put a dent in my tanning schedule! I am also extremely close to other beaches, including Ditch Plains, where I love taking pictures.

This next set of photos was taken in the late afternoon near the jetty in Ditch Plains. In the mornings, surfers and paddleboarders are always out. I love that Montauk's beach culture is so diverse-- you have fishermen, surfers, artists, and a growing number of restauranteurs and chefs. I don't know where I fit in, but I am happy just to be a chic in flip-flops, and I've really enjoyed meeting many of the local shop owners, beachgoers and bartenders along the way. Hope you enjoy the pics, now it's time to do some taxes. Too bad we couldn't just send all the IRS folks to the beach and forget about it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gone Local

I had a great time in Amagansett, and came across a really cool store: GONE LOCAL. The owner, Susan Seitz-Kulick, makes 70% of the items in the store herself (that's a lot!).

I will admit, I heart small businesses, and naturally, I had a fabulous time poking about in Susan's store. She has a little bit of everything in there, for everyone's taste, and everyone's budget, which is pretty cool. Many of her items are creatively displayed in wicker baskets and vintage beach pails, which adds to the funky atmosphere.

I wound up leaving with some Hampton Basics Kiwi soap, that came in handy following a trip to the beach (I used it for washing shells!). Some people go to garage sales and estate sales when they seek undiscovered treasures: I hit the beach. You can find some interesting stuff, from shells, to driftwood, to you never know what. Nature's best fire sale, and the price is always recession-friendly.

My most recent trip uncovered a number of shells, some beach glass, and a few items just too large for me to drag home! Probably a good thing in the long run. I have no idea what I will use these shells for, but, I'm always thinking...and whatever I can't think of Susan will be sure to have in her fun store! Thanks again Susan!

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Lara (not sure if you go by Tina as in your post) on winning the first-ever Blue Gull Beach House Giveaway! Thanks to everyone for participating in our little contest, we look forward to hosting more as the summer months approach.

A special THANK YOU to black & light for being so generous and for making such fabulous candles for us all to enjoy. If you have not yet checked out their website, make sure you do-- they have amazing handmade candles that are perfect for setting a fun tablescape. Have a great weekend everyone!

Spring Flowers at the Beach

The weather is finally warmer, and springtime has left my beach backyard with some really beautiful flowers! This is a big deal for me-- the girl who cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, who once killed a cactus (I swear it was an accident) now has an awesome garden.

Every morning, there is a little something new growing, and I can't wait until everything fills in. Once it does, that patio off the master bedroom is going to be a great spot to relax and enjoy spring.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happily Ever After: The End

Yesterday I put up some pictures of the new master bedroom and livingroom. Today I would like to share my second favorite room in the house (next to the outdoor space!): the kitchen. I cannot take any credit for the fabulous cabinetry, or the beautiful granite countertops (these were already in place, ready to welcome me). However, I did fill the cabinets with fun dinnerware, a party blender, and some other cool stuff!

The first meal shared at The Blue Gull Beach House featured burgers, thanks in part to the new Weber Grill. This grill is old school. It runs low on charcoal and high on flavor. With the help of the new blender, and the fish-shaped ice trays (how can you survive a week at the beach without ice shaped like little fish and starfish? Compliments of IKEA) we had a great meal and drinks that even top the ones served up by ENE.

I know I've been posting lots of interior pics, and I wanted to share the outside of this little Leisurama as well. It stands as a single floor, with room to grow, and my running sneakers on the doorstep (oh, I had some amazing runs, with clear blue skies above me, dunes and salty waves to my right, and a twisty road straight to Fort Pond Bay that made me feel as though I would run straight into the gorgeous pile of blue).

My time spent in Montauk has been well spent. All thanks to a poster that I spied over a year ago, that simply said: Life is Short, Spend Your Time Wisely. Words that inspired me to take more trips out to the End, trips that lead to breakfasts at Mr. John's Pancake House, and one breakfast that ended with a scribbly picture of a future beach house on a syrup-stained napkin. These are the events that began my journey toward living Happily Ever After...The End.

Holidays at the Beach

Having grown up close to the beach in Rocky Point, NY, I know firsthand that you can give any holiday a seaside touch. It doesn't necessarily need to be literal-- for example, you can incorporate soft blues and whites into your normal holiday decor, or add a few natural elements like seashells, driftwood, or whatever you like (just have fun).

This past Sunday, in honor of Easter, I made a few table centerpieces that incorporated a modern twist on that green grass you might remember seeing as a kid-- I took a few simple bowls and added grass, jellybeans and a few starfish and sand dollars to keep things light and fun.

I also made "Easter Buckets" instead of baskets, with some great metal beach pails that I found at World Market. I alternated stuffing these with candy, swim tubes, water guns and other beachy stuff. This was an easy way to make personalized favors for guests of all ages and to get everyone excited for the upcoming summer months.

The Hamptons had a number of great events for young and old alike, and in Montauk Mr. John's Pancake House served up "Bunny Pancakes" all weekend (delicious). While we did not take part in any of the more formal egg hunts or bonnet parades, we did host an egg hunt on the beach. The weather held out long enough for us to charge the dunes in search of easily-spotted plastic eggs filled with money (hey, a bunny's gotta eat), seashells, and other assorted treasures!

I know, you're thinking "no way I would run like a fool on the dunes." Well, after you've had a few of the Blue Gull Beach House's special mimosas, you would be hopping along like the rest of us! Besides, ten minutes worth of fun can create a few memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you all for an awesome time-- it's good to be young, in spirit and at heart.

For those who could not make it out to the End (or the beginning, I don't know) I hope you enjoy the pictures, and if you have some fun shoreside pics or stories from this weekend please feel free to share!