COASTAL OHIO: LOCAL’S GUIDE TO THE BEACH AT EAST HARBOR STATE PARK

A few weeks ago we took a day trip to East Harbor State Park.  I’ve written about this park that rests along the shores of Lake Erie before and thought a separate post about the actual public beach may prove helpful (as I’ve received several questions).  

The 1500 foot beach is teeny tiny as beaches go. Although the beach is quaint, the views are incredible. We arrived at the park around 10:30 a.m. on a Friday and first spent our time exploring the coastal trails. We may have ventured off the sandy path, but I’m so glad we did, because the views along the rocky shore are magnificent.

We headed over to the public beach around 11:00 a.m. and already the beach was packed. It appeared as though no one was social distancing and no one was wearing masks, so trying to find a spot was a negative for us. Rob suggested we walk along the sandy trail above the beach and boy am I glad we did!!

Just past the public beach are pockets of smaller, “private” beaches. A family was leaving as we were walking along the sandy trail and offered to give us their spot. These small pockets can comfortably fit 6-8 people, which means they are perfect for a couple. There are probably about five or six of these “private” beaches past the public beach.

Because we are in the midst of a pandemic, below are some tips if you want to visit this public beach before summer ends.

  • Plan your arrival time for earlier in the morning.  If you want a private beach or even a claim on the public beach, I would arrive by 9:30-10:00 a.m.
  • Pack your own beach chair and towels.  The beach and state park are too small to offer beach chair rentals.  
  • Pack your own snacks and beverages.  I’ve heard that there are concessions, but I’ve never seen them open.
  • Bring a book, magazine, music, etc. to enjoy while watching the waves crash against the shore. 
  • If you have kids, bring some beach toys.  Note that flotation devices are not permitted in the lake.  
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen and an extra change of clothes or beach coverup! 
  • And maybe throw in some tennis shoes if you want to explore the walking trails after sunbathing. 

I think that covers it! Just as an FYI, the beach does have newly renovated bathrooms and a changing area that are cleaned regularly.

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer!!

Slainte,

Shannon

STYLE: TIPS FOR A STYLISH BEACH DAY

As many people start looking forward to fall and all that comes with the crisp season (sweaters, denim jeans, plaid, pumpkins, scarves, etc.) I’m holding onto summer even more. I’m not ready to give up on these long, hot days full of sunshine, swimming, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and jaunts to the lake. If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I’m wearing a summer dress every day (M-F) until I can’t anymore. I just love my summer wardrobe and want to be able to enjoy all my summer pieces.

We visit the Lake Erie beaches often enough that I’ve discovered what to wear and what not to wear. Below are some tips for a no fuss, stylish day at the beach.

  • Always pack a straw hat or baseball hat. It’s extra windy near the water, so a hat is a must (otherwise your hair will be a mess in your face like mine in some of these photos).
  • Choose no fuss clothing – I like to wear denim shorts and a tee (love this Salty tee from Ohio based Shore Society) or a dress that won’t billow in the wind. You can easily wear your bathing suit under both options – this provides for a stylish coverup and a quick transition into the water.
  • Keep your jewelry minimal. I wore my everyday pearl earrings and just a handful of my nautical bracelets from Allison Cole Jewelry and KJP.
  • Choose sandals or flip flops – you’ll take your shoes off as soon as you hit the sand so don’t wear anything too cumbersome like tennis shoes, flats or heels.
  • Bring a straw or canvas tote to carry your towel, book, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.
  • And most importantly, don’t forget your sunscreen!! We were guilty of this and I ended up looking like a lobster by the end of the day – definitely don’t recommend!

None of these tips are rocket science, but I have learned that when planning a day at the beach, you want to keep it simple and easy. You are there to relax and enjoy the views. The last thing you want to worry about is how you look.

Enjoy these last couple of weeks of summer!

Slainte,

Shannon

HOME: PLAYROOM GALLERY WALL

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen me talk about the gallery wall I’ve been working on for L’s playroom. This has been a summer project very near and dear to my heart. My goal with this gallery wall was to be very intentional with the artwork I was selecting. From the beginning, I wanted all of the artwork to be created by artists I admire and/or an artist I have become friends with. All six pieces that I have picked out so far fall into both categories and I’m so excited to share a little info about each artist and their work.

Becky Elgart Coastal Watercolors

Based in Connecticut, Becky Elgart finds endless inspiration from the Atlantic. You immediately can sense her love for the coast in all of her work. For me, each of her pieces of art invoke a feeling of peace and nostalgia for a simpler time. Her abstract coastal seascapes are some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen. Her piece “Forever Summer” is the piece that inspired me to create this gallery wall for L’s playroom. The lady in the hat reminds me of long, hot summer days playing dress up at my Bobo’s (grandma) house with some of her dresses and large sun hats from the 1940s and 1950s. I loved frolicking around in these vintage pieces and I really think it’s one of the reasons why I love fashion and fashion history so much. I chose this piece because it reminds me so much of my childhood and the endless amounts of imagination and creativity that comes with being a kid.

Check out Becky’s Instagram and her website for more of her beautiful work.

Cozy Little Prints

Cozy Little Prints and the story behind its formation is perhaps one of my favorite’s to share.  My friend Sarah (who I virtually met through Instagram) started painting watercolors at the beginning of COVID-19 as a way to ease anxiety during this incredibly stressful time.  Sarah first started painting watercolors of botanicals and has since expanded into architecture (I commissioned her to create a watercolor of my sister-in-law’s new house!), animals, pets, landscapes, and fashion pieces.   When I saw her share the watercolor she created of an elephant, I knew it had to be a part of L’s gallery wall.  L LOVES elephants – it was the first animal noise she made and she sleeps with her JellyCat Elephant every night.  The elephant print that Sarah painted is the sweetest, most precious addition to the gallery wall and nothing brings me more joy than to see L point to it and make an elephant noise.  

Be sure to follow Cozy Little Prints on Instagram and check out the Etsy site!

Jen Strandberg Studios

I discovered Jen Strandberg Studios through Cozy Little Prints! Sarah shared Jen’s artwork in her stories one day and from then on I was hooked.  Based out of NYC and Nantucket, Jen Strandberg Studios specializes in colorful coastal watercolors.  Full of coastal scenes, summers on the water, and hydrangeas in full bloom, Jen’s artwork makes my nautical loving heart so very happy.  As soon as I saw the colorful buoys that Jen painted, I knew they would be a part of the gallery wall.  They are so fun and playful – the perfect addition to a child’s playroom. 

Be sure to follow Jen on Instagram and shop her Esty site!

Little Lavender Lobster 

Rachel is the genius behind Little Lavender Lobster and perhaps one of the nicest and most supportive artists I’ve met through Instagram.  Founded in 2016, Little Lavender Lobster offers handmade jewelry, watercolors, custom stationary, and so much more – all created and designed by Rachel herself.  I love the simplicity and sophistication of her work.   One of the sweetest products that Rachel creates are personalized watercolor pennants!  Rachel and I worked together to create this customized piece for the gallery wall and it’s so perfect! It’s fun, playful, and the perfect amount of nautical.  I asked Rachel to use an “S” for Solt (in case there are more little Solt’s in the future) and watercolors in blue and white.  I’m so thrilled with the final piece and seeing this sweet pennant in the middle of the gallery wall makes me so happy.

Definitely follow Little Lavender Lobster on Instagram and check out Rachel’s website!

Michelle Brunner

Michelle is my first ever Instagram friend turned real life friend.  Michelle and I met over two years ago and she is one of the most beautiful humans.  Michelle actually teaches with my sister and that’s how we were introduced! Michelle creates the most gorgeous impressionistic paintings of Lake Erie and Ohio.  Claude Monet has always been my favorite artist and Michelle’s artwork reminds me so much of Monet.  I absolutely love her use of color and texture and I find myself getting lost in her paintings.  I am honored to have several of her pieces hanging in our home.  I knew I needed another nautical painting of Lake Erie to include in the gallery wall.  And this one with the little sailboat and the colorful patchwork detail is so perfect for inspiring creativity.

Be sure to follow Michelle on Instagram and check out her website and Etsy site!

Bittersweet Farms

For those of you who know me on a personal level, you will have known that I worked at Bittersweet Farms for five and half years, doing their marketing and social media. Bittersweet Farms is a local nonprofit that provides services to adults with autism. They employ a working farm model that helps individuals with autism live a life filled with purpose. One of my favorite programs is the Creative Arts Program. The Creative Arts Program provides adults with autism art therapy, art production, and art for intrinsic value. It has been a joy to get to know all of these artists and I am honored to have a piece of original art in my home. Before I moved on from Bittersweet, I saw one of the artists had painted this scene titled “Water Lilies.” I had just given birth to Lilly and I asked if I could purchase it, as it was the perfect addition to our room. This piece has been hanging in the playroom for many months, but it is now part of the gallery wall and the bright colors, coastal feel, and Monet inspired style makes me so happy.

Be sure to follow Bittersweet Farms on Instagram and check out their website for more information about this non-profit!

I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to some new artists. I am truly honored to have so many of their pieces displayed in our home. It has been so wonderful getting to know each of these individuals and I hope you will take the time to visit their sites and give them some love.


Slainte,
Shannon

COASTAL OHIO: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE GREAT LAKES

Last weekend Rob and I safely ventured out in public to the National Museum of the Great Lakes.  What a treat! This museum completely exceeded our expectations and we could have easily spent much more time exploring the history of the Great Lakes.   

The National Museum of the Great Lakes consists of an indoor museum with over 300 photographs and artifacts that tell the story of the Great Lakes, a self guided tour of the 617-foot iron ore freighter the Colonel James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship and the historic Museum Tug Ohio. In terms of safety during COVID, the museum requires face masks, social distancing, reservations, and the regular cleaning of surfaces. They also closed all hands-on and interactive exhibits. We were one of four parties the entire two hours we were there (two sets of couples, us, and a family of four). I felt very safe the entire time.

The museum itself tells tales spanning hundreds of years, beginning with the fur traders of the 1600s and ending with the sailors who sail the waterways today. I have never truly thought about the thousands of years of history of the Great Lakes and I was blown away by how dramatically the Great Lakes have impacted the North American continent. I loved learning more about Lake Erie, but I especially loved learning about the other Great Lakes. I realized I knew virtually nothing about Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. I also found it fascinating that because the Great Lakes are so large, they create their own weather!! So crazy!

We spent the majority of our time exploring the freighter and tug boat. The freighter was absolutely fascinating and it was my first time on a vessel this large. Walking up the gangway was incredibly terrifying for me (I am not a fan of heights), but once I was aboard the ship, I very much enjoyed the coastal views of downtown Toledo.

The first stop on the boat was the cargo hold – wow! What an enormous space! This was one of three cargo holds and this room alone can hold up to 5000 tons of bulk cargo (sand, stone, coal, iron ore, etc.). After the cargo hold we moved on to the First Engineers Cabin. I love seeing how sailors live and was fascinated by the living quarters.

Up next we ventured into the Crew Mess and Kitchen, which was quite spacious in my opinion! Off the kitchen was the Fantail, which just below this area is where the anchor chain locker is that holds a 4100 pound anchor – amazing!! After the Fantail we saw the Engine Room which is quite extraordinary – I for one could never work in this part of the ship though!

Having completed this side of the ship, we headed back down the deck and entered into the Passenger Hall, which compared to the rest of the boat was quite luxurious! With oak paneling and a grand staircase, one might they think they were on the Titanic (not really, but it was fancy!). Pretty much this entire side of the vessel is the Captain’s area – containing the Captain’s Lounge, Captain’s Offices, and Captain’s Cabin.

After we explored the Schoonmaker, we made our way to the Tug Ohio boat, which compared to the ship was quite tiny. It only took us about five minutes to explore the entire tug boat, but it was still fun to see how one operates and compare the difference in size between the two boats.

As with anything lately, I was nervous to explore this museum during COVID, but I’m very glad we did as it was truly fascinating. Plus, we enjoyed some panoramic views of downtown Toledo and the Maumee River, which even on a hazy gray day, was very beautiful.

If you are local to Northwest Ohio or are coming through the area, be sure to add this museum to your list of sites to see. It truly won’t disappoint.

Slainte,

Shannon

COASTAL OHIO: EAST HARBOR STATE PARK

It’s literally been months since Rob and I have done anything just the two of us.  We were supposed to be going away overnight this weekend, but we just aren’t comfortable staying somewhere else or straying too far from home.  We decided to take advantage of the fact that we have babysitters available and are enjoying a day trip to the lake.  

Last summer we stumbled upon East Harbor State Park and loved it.  Earlier this week when we were brainstorming places to go on the lake, we knew we wanted to go somewhere where there wouldn’t be a lot of people and where we could social distance.  East Harbor State Park seemed the perfect option.

Nestled along the Lake Erie shore, East Harbor State Park is a hidden jewel.  Visitors can enjoy everything from boating, fishing and swimming, to picnicking, camping, and hiking.  Last year we enjoyed the public beach, and my guess is this trip will also result in some beach time.  We are interested in exploring the marina and perhaps the hiking trails.  We plan on spending about an hour or two here so it may just turn into reading our books and relaxing on the beach.  

Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram as I’ll be posting to my stories!

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: AMONG THE WILDFLOWERS

Last week my mom and I took Lilly to a local flower farm.  I’m always looking for outdoor, social distance activities that L and I can do together and I’ve had a handful of friends recommend this activity to me.  I was truly thrilled with the experience and the farm itself, and I’m so excited to recount our adventures for you guys.  

A hidden jewel of Northwest Ohio, GardenView Flowers is a 60 acre family-run farm that specializes in designing beautiful bouquets for weddings. Not only does the farm offer the most gorgeous fresh-cut flowers for brides, but they also offer a U-Pick Garden and seasonal flower design workshops.

My mom and I had never been flower picking before and it was so delightful. It was seriously a very relaxing and very fulfilling activity! The flower farm opens daily at 8:00 a.m. We arrived around 10:00 a.m. and there were only a few other people there picking flowers. Upon arrival, we headed over to the cutest farm Flower Stop. The Flower Stop offers bouquets to go, dried flowers, and other gifts. It’s the most charming little building.

Adjacent to the Flower Stop is a check-in table where you pay for your experience and pick-up clippers and a cup/vase in which to place your picked flowers. Because Ohio is now under a mandatory mask order, I felt extremely safe. All of the staff and visitors were wearing masks and people were practicing social distancing. I was very pleased too with the disinfecting precautions the farm took to ensure the clippers and other supplies were cleaned in between uses. Plus, they offered hand sanitizer and complimentary bottles of water (it does get hot out in those flower fields)!

After we checked-in, we chose a field of wildflowers and started picking! The farm plants over 30 varieties of fresh-cut flowers and there was a colorful mix of varieties and textures from which to choose.

L and I were drawn to the bright pinks and purples, so we picked a lot of Zinnias, Cosmos, Dahlias, and Sweet Williams. There were also plenty of Sunflowers, Gladiolus, Snap Dragons, and Blue Ageratum. There were so many different varieties and colors and you could easily come home with multiple bouquets depending on the look and feel you are going for.

We picked flowers for almost an hour and I was actually kind of sad to leave! L absolutely loved smelling the flowers, helping us pick them, and frolicking through the many fields. Her face of pure joy really just sums up our experience. We definitely plan to return again and again. If you are local to Northwest Ohio and are looking for a family friendly, safe activity, flower picking at GardenView Flowers is a must!

Be sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram!

Slainte,

Shannon

BRAND SPOTLIGHT: MADDIE AND CONNOR CO.

I’m exceptionally excited to share this latest brand spotlight with you all! A few months ago I connected with a fellow mama, Sara Feeney, on Instagram. We quickly bonded over motherhood, classic children’s clothing, the coastal life, the list goes on. Early on, Sara mentioned a dream of hers to create her own brand of children’s clothing that was preppy and classic. Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Sara bring her dream to life. And so, without further ado, I introduce you all to Maddie & Connor Co.!

Maddie & Connor Co. offers timeless and classic clothing that captures the joy and essence of childhood. All of the styles are designed by Sara herself and her attention to detail is top notch. Think stripes, seersucker, embroidery, eyelit, and scallops. The designs are so timeless that they can be passed down from sibling to sibling, and generation to generation.

One of my favorite designs in the new collection is the Lighthouse Beach Dress. You guys know I’m a sucker for blue and white stripes so I knew right away this style would end up in Lilly’s wardrobe. The ricrac along the ruffle and hem make this dress so incredibly sweet. And the fabric is really lightweight – perfect for hot, summer days down by the water.

When I’m shopping for clothes for Lilly, I look for quality, style, and price. And Maddie and Connor Co. hit all three of these criteria. The quality is beautiful (the Lighthouse Beach Dress washes so well!!), the style is timeless and classic, and the price is completely affordable. If you are looking for a great children’s clothing brand, I highly recommend shopping Maddie and Connor Co.!

Slainte,

Shannon 

STYLE: CLASSIC POLO DRESS

The classic polo.  The polo shirt is an American staple that has been made popular by brands such as Ralph Lauren, Kiel James Patrick, Vineyard Vines, Lacoste, and Abercrombie and Fitch. 

Even before attending Miami University, the college often referred to as the “Ivy League of the Midwest” or “J.Crew U,” polo shirts were a part of my wardrobe. Although I wore less and less of them during my “fashion years,” they have re-emerged in my wardrobe in my “classic style” years.

Over the years I have found there is no wrong way to wear a polo. You can wear it all buttoned with the collar down, half buttoned with the collar down, half buttoned with the collar popped, or not buttoned with the collar down or popped. Honestly, the styles are endless. Pair a polo shirt with chino shorts, denim shorts, skinny denim pants, skinny black pants, a denim skirt, boyfriend chinos – the options are endless.

Perhaps my new favorite way to wear a polo is in dress form. The polo dress has quickly become one of my favorite styles of dresses to wear in the summer. It’s seriously SO EASY. You throw it on in the morning and you are instantly put together for the day. I love wearing these to work (when we actually go to work) because they are professional, yet casual. The polo dresses from Kiel James Patrick are my favorite for their fit and quality. These particular polo dresses are soft, lightweight, and have the perfect amount of stretch. I have it in navy and white and I plan on adding a new color to my collection each season.

If I’m opting for a dressier look with the polo dress, I opt for classic pearls, a straw tote, a chic headband, and my Jack Roger sandals. I throw a cardigan over my shoulders for the iconic preppy look (and to use if the evenings get too cool). If I’m looking for a more casual, everyday look, I opt for minimal jewels, classic sneakers, and a baseball hat. However you choose to style a polo dress, you will always come out looking classic,stylish, and put together.

You can shop this entire look by clicking on the links below!

Slainte,

Shannon 

SHOP THE LOOK

KJP Jamestown Sailor Polo Dress | Jack Rogers | KJP Sailor’s Luck Bracelet | KJP Navy Wavy Bracelet | KJP Tahiti Sail Bracelet | KJP Pearls | Draper James Straw Tote 

HOME: HOUSE PROJECTS 2020 UPDATE

A few weeks ago I shared a list of house projects for this summer.  We are in full swing in getting these projects complete and that is such a good feeling.  We still have a very long way to go, but we are slowly checking the big projects off our list.  If you are interested, keep on reading to see what projects we have completed and what projects are still works in progress.  

COMPLETED PROJECTS

It feels good to check the not-so-glamorous projects off our list.  So far this summer we’ve been able to spruce up the landscaping, repair the chimney, and replace the roof – the top priorities on our list (and the most money sucking eeeeek).  Relaxing at night is much more enjoyable though knowing that the chimney isn’t going to fall over and the ceiling isn’t going to leak anymore.  

We chose pretty dark gray shingles for the roof and already it enhances the curb appeal so much. We think it will look so good against the (eventual) dark navy siding. Which leads me into our uncompleted list of projects.

WORKS IN PROGRESS

The two big projects we still have to complete are painting the exterior of the house and fixing the interior damage caused by the chimney.  I’m a little concerned about the interior damage getting complete because of, you know, COVID-19.  I’m just not comfortable having workers in our home while the pandemic is raging around the state, country, and world.  Eventually though the ceiling will get repaired and the walls painted and our family room and guest room will feel so clean and fresh. 

I’ve now added a few more interior projects to keep me busy (like I need any more projects in my life).  If you follow me on Instagram you will have listened to me chat about the playroom gallery wall I’m working on.  My goal with the playroom gallery wall is to find original artwork created by artists I admire and/or artists that have become friends.  So far I have five original pieces and I’m deciding on one more (blog post coming soon).

I also decided to finally start the gallery wall up the stairwell.  For YEARS I’ve talked about doing a gallery wall of family pictures going up the stairs (one of my favorite shows of all time is Brothers and Sisters and Sally Field’s character had the best gallery wall up her staircase.  Ever since then, I’ve wanted to do the same thing).  And I’ve finally decided to do it.  It’s definitely a challenging project – trying to style and organize multiple frames on an incline is not easy.  It’s like putting together a puzzle and it just takes time to make all the pieces fit.  Once it’s done, I think it’s going to really brighten up and make our entryway feel so warm and welcoming. 

I’m really looking forward to completing both those gallery walls.  Artwork brings me so much joy and helps make our house feel like a home. 

Thanks for following along on our home reno projects!

Slainte,

Shannon 

MOTHERHOOD: STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER

Strawberry picking! An activity the Solt family had never done before and I’m still not sure who had the most fun! We are still sticking pretty close to home and when we do take L out, we only go to outdoor spaces with plenty of room, strict social distancing, and mask wearing standards. A local farm where I typically buy pumpkins and mums in the fall offers you pick strawberries for two weeks in June. I did my research to make sure this farm was taking the proper precautions that are mandated by the Ohio Department of Health and feeling comfortable, we decided to try it out.

Stevens Farm in Monclova is the perfect setting for a morning out with the family. There is a cute little farmhouse at the front of the property with an old log cabin and small barn with horses and goats you can feed and pet. They have a greenhouse with fresh herbs and flowers and just across the way a small pond with a dock and canoes. Just past the pond is an orchard with peach and pear trees. Lilly loved running through the rows of trees! And just then just beyond the orchard are fields and fields of strawberries.

We arrived soon after the you pick opened and I’m so glad we did! Within 45 minutes they were almost sold out of spots – aka rows. All of the employees were wearing masks, they were sanitizing berry carts, and every family had their own row and they alternated rows so that people were spread out comfortably. We felt exceptionally comfortable.

We spent about a half hour picking strawberries and filled up two pints. These were literally the most delicious strawberries I’ve ever tasted! So fresh and so sweet. I think Lilly enjoyed squishing them between her hands more than she enjoyed eating them though.

We ate a fair amount throughout the day after we got home and washed them. But I also ended up making a strawberry cobbler that was so yummy and refreshing. You can find the recipe for that here.

It was a beautiful summer morning and I’m so glad we ventured out for these happy family memories!

Slainte,

Shannon