beach combing

Beachcomber Chic

Beachcomber place settings

Regular readers will know that I have a passion for the sea and all things coastal; whenever we can, we pile into the car and head for the shore; there’s something about the endless skies and water, the sea-salt and the sand that is magical.  We’re heading for Cornwall soon to go rock-pooling and to brave the Atlantic waters, but till then I’ve brought the sea a little closer to home with these bauble place-settings filled with beach-combed finds, made for a casual al fresco dinner with friends…

Coastal style place settings

I bought a set of fillable Christmas baubles from Michaels when we were in New England last Autumn, and in the frenzy of festive preparations managed to forget about them completely until, inspired by the endless beautiful pictures of coastal dining and projects in magazines (especially the current issue of Country Homes and Interiors), I decided to use them as summery place-settings for a simple outdoor get-together.

I gathered up a hodgepodge of beach treasures from previous holidays and added in bits of ephemera I’ve gathered on my travels (including some old watch faces which I bought by the bagful from the eclectic  Marché aux Puces flea market in Paris, bits of broken jewellery and feathers collected in the springtime on our many trips to feed the ducks..)

Beachcombing finds

..And dug out a handful of corks, gathered over the years from various celebrations  - celebrations as big as weddings and as small as the arrival of the weekend at long last…

corks

I prised the top off each bauble and tipped in some sand (I used a scoop of play sand from Harry’s old sandpit), then dropped in my treasures.  You might want to use a pair of tweezers or cooking tongs to move things around; it’s like learning keyhole surgery without a textbook…

Making coastal bauble place settings

Push in a cork, and then tie on a simple paper tag with each name.  I printed names onto a sheet of cardstock then cut into strips before  punching a hole in each and tying on with household string.  Broken shells look beautiful threaded on to the tie;

Coastal Bauble Place Settings

And voila, a simple yet stylish summer place-setting which can be played with endlessly as your guests get tipsy and start trying to fish out interesting contents with their cutlery, adding a dash of sand to each course in the process (trust me on this; or maybe it’s just my guests…)

Summer dinner party style

If you want to try this but didn’t have the foresight to buy a fistful of empty baubles at Christmas before leaving to gather dust in the back of a drawer, there are a number of craft shops which either stock them year-round, or - quelle horreur! - are already showcasing their festive collections for this year.  Online, try eBay or craft mecca Etsy for beautiful glass versions.  In the UK you can find them here, or Baker Ross has a slightly different design.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

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A Coastal Escape

Last Thursday we played hooky from work, nursery and all things domestic and took to the skies for a short hop over to the island of Jersey, where my wonderful brother and sister-in-law live. With the Summer season drawing to a close, we had the beaches to ourselves and spent the days roaming the sand, collecting shells, driftwood and seaweed and building castles and kingdoms.

There’s something profoundly lovely about the British coastline on these bright sunny days of early Autumn; the end of a day at the beach calls for hot chocolate and log fires rather than ice cream and barbecues, and is just as magical as a result.  For Harry, it’s the first time he’s really experienced the sea and the coast (amazing, in our island nation), and he was utterly captivated.

We collected a small but very heavy bucket of the treasures that Harry couldn’t bear to leave behind… pebbles shaped like whales, tiny shells for listening to the sea, and tufts of brightly coloured rope from fishing trawlers.  Creative instincts twitching, we’ll be turning these into something crafty in due course to remember our heady few days on the shore.  First though, there’s the next stage of our house renovation to share later this week – just as soon as I blow all the sand out of my camera…