Latest News

Sea-Inspired iOS Photography of Jim Perdue


My sister Julie, a fabulous amateur photographer, introduced me to the work of Jim Perdue, a software developer at App Lab. App Lab iOS photography is all about photography and art created using mobile devices. Jim lives in Monterey, CA near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so many of his subjects are of ocean related themes. Here are some of my favorites. To see more of his work visit Jim Perdue Flikr page



Chez Shady Santa Cruz Vacation Rental

Now that our five children are all grown up and living all over the country (and world), my husband Bill and I decided to turn our sprawling Santa Cruz family home into a summer vacation rental. If you are looking for a killer pad to relax and chill, we invite you to visit our Airbnb listing Chez Shady. 

Our traditional custom craftman’s bungalow style home was built in 1927. It has since undergone several remodels and expansions without sacrificing any of the home’s original character or charm. Relax and enjoy our luxurious, comfortable and spacious (3000 square foot) home that has everything you want and need to enjoy the Santa Cruz beach and mountain experience. Designed and built for our large family, our home has 4 bed rooms, 3 full baths and outdoor living area. Ideal for retreats and reunions. It’s spacious, cozy and comfortable with lots of amenities: indoor clinker brick fireplace, gourmet kitchen (with granite counters and Viking stove), master bath Jacuzzi, outdoor fireplace/fountain and kitchen, study/library, formal dining room with Mission Style table and ginormous great room with wet bar and 60 inch flat screen TV.

Bamboo Planters Zen Decorating Idea



When I moved to Santa Cruz 24 years ago I remember the first time I saw aloe vera, cactus and other succulents growing on the side of the road. It was November, 1992 and I had just left the barren trees and slushy snow of New Jersey when I found myself  tranplanted into a year round tropical oasis– a completely alternative landscape from the coniferous and disiduous vegetation I was used to. It didn’t take me long to embrace the California surf culture and  Zen-like vibe, which typically involved hot tubs, bamboo and succulents. We have all three in our yard and my husband Bill, handy, creative guy that he is, made these lovely DIY bamboo planters for me and filled them with luscious succulents.

Beach Babe Hairspray

image of spray bottleA popular item found in beauty supply stores these days is hair spray formulated to give you the tousled just-come-from-the-beach wavy hair look. Here’s a homemade version I discovered in 100 Organic Skincare Recipes by Jessica Ress. Nothing beats the look, smell and feel of ocean misted hair, but spritz a little bit of this on your hair to capture a similar effect.


  • 1 cup distilled water (optional add in, steep camomile tea in the water)
  • 1 1/2 T. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. aloe vera juice
  • 1 T. 80 proof vodka

To Make: Heat the water to almost boiling and remove from heat. Add tea bag is using. Steep for five minutes and then discard tea bag. Add sea salt and coconut oil. Use a funnel to transfer to spray bottle. Shake well to dissolve ingredients and then let cool completely. Add aloe vera juice and vodka. Shake well before each use. Will store in refrigerator for 4 months. Makes 10 ounces.

To Use: Spray generously on damp or dry hair. Scrunch and twist into beachy fabulous waves. Works best if you air dry.



Functional Glass Art Adorned with Wild Flowers

Flowers, flowers, everywhere. I’m lucky to live in the beautiful seaside town of Santa Cruz, CA. Our temperate climate lends itself to year round gardens and as a nature artist, I’m always finding ways to bring that beauty indoors. I started pressing flowers long before I discovered the magnificent beauty of pressed seaweed and marine botanicals. On walks along the beach and in the meadows and forests near my home, wild flowers are in abundance. They grow in the sand dunes along the jagged cliffs leading down to my favorite beach, Greyhound Rock. Here are some of my favorites– Indian Paintbrush, lupine and dill pressed and sealed onto glass soap and lotion dispensers. This functional art is available for sale on EtsySoap and lotion dispensers decorated with pressed wild flowers.

Sea2Be Ocean-Themed Photography of Julie Forbes

My sister Julie is a wonderful photographer, a passion she pursues as a hobby. I admire her talent and ability to capture the peaceful and tranquil essence of the sea using various filters and freeze frame techniques. Below are some of my personal favorite beach scenes from her vast portfolio. Since I have a fondness for lighthouses, the shadow of one is especially intriguing to me. And I find the Degas-like blurred images of beach bathers fascinating. You can see more of Julie’s work on Instagram. 



Parchment Baked Salmon

image of parchment baked salmonSalmon baked in parchment is quick, easy and above all, the best way to steam in flavor. This recipe lends itself to improvisation, but my vegetables of choice are always asparagus and mushrooms (I prefer oyster and cremini.) Thin slices of lemons, crushed pepper and a sprinkling of herb d’provence are a must. And of course, really good extra virgin olive oil. I prefer lemon infused olive oil from my friends at True Olive Connection in Santa Cruz. Here’s how:

  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place salmon fillet with skin side down in the middle of the paper; drizzle with some olive oil.  Layer with vegetables and lemon slices and sprinkle with crushed pepper and seasonings of choice.
  3. Fold edges of parchment paper over the fish several times to seal into an airtight packet. 
  4. Place in 400 degree F preheated oven and bake until fish is pink and flakes to the touch, about 20-25 minutes.

To serve, cut open and remove paper and slice. Careful, it’s steamy. Serve with a buttery chardonnay. My local favorite is Storrs.

Note: To learn how to choose sustainable salmon options please visit The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

Mermaid Sea Salt Bath Sachets

image of sachets decorated with seaweedIn Santa Cruz, California the ocean is usually cold year round. Since I always enjoy a good salty soak, especially in my antique claw foot tub, I found a way to experience the healing properties of the ocean indoors. I discovered a recipe for a seaweed rich mineral bath in 100 Organic Skin Care Recipescourtesy of Santa Cruz aromatherapist Jessica Ress. I mixed up a batch of bath salts and then filled sachet bags I had printed with images of my pressed seaweed. Here’s how you can do it yourself.


Place salt in large glass bowl. Fold in the lavender buds, spearmint and seaweeds. Add the drops of essential oil. Mix well.  IMG_3695


Make a sachet  filled with the salt mixture and toss in the tub. Loose salts can be stored in a sealed jar for up to 6 months. Note: I chose to decorate my linen sachet bags with images from my SeaweedArt pressings. You can use whatever image you choose.

Tie the opening of the linen sachet with the attached string. Immerse the sachet, and your yourself, into the tub and soak for 20 minutes. Shower afterward to rinse off the excreted toxins. Contents of the sachet are good for one bath and the bag can be refilled and reused many times.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos


Although I make this dish year round, this is football food at it’s finest– tasty, healthy and easy to make. Fix it and forget it and you won’t miss any of the game.


  • 2- cups salsa (my favorite is a local Santa Cruz brand, Roberto’s pico de gallo)
  • 2- tablespoons chili powder
  • 2- tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2- tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1- 2 1/2 pound boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • Corn or flour tortillas

In slow cooker combine the salsa, chili powder, oregano, cocoa and 1 tsp. of salt (I like coarse salts like kosher or sea.) Add the pork and turn to coat. Cook covered on high for 4-5 hours or low 7-8 hours. You will know it is done when the meat is tender and pulls apart easily.

Before serving, heat tortillas and keep warm. Shred pork with two forks and stir up the juices. Pile on tortillas and serve with sour cream, cilantro, lime, some avocado, shredded cheese and extra salsa. (And beer.) Makes great leftovers too!

Battle of the Sea Lions

Watch as these two Santa Cruz Sea lions battle it out to see who gets to sleep on the dock.