Ocean Colors & A Recipe: Mussels Bernaise

This color.

The ocean, especially ocean colors, speak to my soul. It seems like I’ve always been drawn to those colors: from the 80s turquoise of my childhood to the aqua of the 2000s to the mint and sage colors that have been so popular the last few years. I love them all.

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 7.09.14 PM
The beautiful waters off of Mallorica in Spain from the Agatha Christie movie “Evil Under the Sun.”

About 4 years ago I found that Winsor and Newton had two beautiful colors of artists watercolor: cobalt turquoise light and cobalt green. After ordering them I played happily with them for days. They were (and still are) delightful! I will never forget my great watercolor professor in college, Hollis Howard. He told us we would be painting light, not objects and that watercolor had an amazing ability to be translucent and you could layer it like stained glass. Watercolor soon became my favorite medium and thanks to Hollis Howard I learned to make it sing.


All my favorite Prismacolor pencils including Deco Aqua (my favorite and 😦 discontinued color) in the pencil extender. They are all in a Fenton Martha By Mail 3.5″ Jadeite pot that has a gorgeous translucent quality to it; like sea glass.

I am always on the lookout for the colors and things that remind me of the many ways the light plays on sea water to show us its gorgeous colors.  I call it waterlight.

And of course more cookie cutters! These are my very favorite Martha By Mail copper cookie cutters by Michael Bonne. I got them for my birthday in 2017 and celebrated by painting them and, of course, making cookies! I plan to make these cookies again very soon! (And post about it, of course.)

I sprinkled my watercolor with kosher salt to get the mottled effects of copper with a little tarnish on it.
A batch of seahorse gingerbread cookies that looked very much like they were underwater in my vintage Tupperware container.
Cookie designs!
The last Martha By Mail cookie cutters on my wish list!


A few years ago I really got into urban exploring. I have to live through others doing this fun stuff on the internet. I’m so lucky to live in a time where I can just cue up Dan Bell on YouTube and go on adventures with him instead of getting myself in serious danger or trouble. So, one thing I ran across was the beautiful interior tile mosaics of the Sea View Hospital in New York. They incorporate the most exquisite porcelain 3-D like tile shells in the most stunning rutile glaze of cobalt turquoise light and cobalt green.

This was the best photo I could find of the shell murals. The light is so good here you can see how beautiful the colors are in the tiles. And look, the shield reminds me of my Martha By Mail copper cookie cutter sheild!



I loved these shells so much and the color so much that I had to use my new W&N cobalt turquoise light and cobalt green to paint them (many, many times)!

In the process of working on our renovations I am smitten by many things, but very much by a new saucepan my husband bought me in cool mint from Le Creuset. We have had the same pots and some pans as when we got married 19 years ago. Back in 2000, we got a lovely set of Caphalon anodized aluminum when we were newlyweds. Only the saucepans remain as we have worn the non-stick coating off of many skillets since then. Now our saucepans are looking really bad and the teflon is damaged. We are trying to replace them with a non-stick cookware that is heavy-duty enough for our foodie family to use until we are dead! So we settled on Le Creuset, but it is VERY expensive new! Yikes! But, you can find great sales at outlets and used pieces on Ebay which is what we have done.  The Cool Mint saucepan is my muse for the whole color scheme of ocean in my home!

Ocean inside and out.

With my new saucepan I warmed up some of a wonderful French seafood dish called Mussels Bernaise. Along with my love of ocean colors comes my equal love of seafood. I would eat it every day if I could. (Although not this recipe- I would get so fat!)

Mussels Bernaise
(Healthier Version and Unhealthy Options LOL)

1 package 1-3 lbs frozen or cleaned fresh mussels
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter (unhealthy? use 4 Tablespoons here)
1 Cup white wine
1 Cup milk (unhealthy? then use heavy cream here)
1-2 Tablespoons Tarragon depending on taste
Kosher salt to taste

Melt butter in large pan, such as a dutch oven. Add garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant- just a minute or two. Add the other ingredients and stir before adding the mussels. Simmer, covered, for 5-7 minutes for frozen mussels, 3 minutes for fresh. When done discard any that do not open and serve warm. This is excellent with the easy bread recipe here.



Also our outlet store had tools on sale so I got some silicone lids and trivets in cool mint and my other oceanic favorite color- Caribbean (which rhymes with amphibian!).

Le Creuset Left: Caribbean; Right: Cool Mint


Le Creuset Caribbean is Caran d’Ache Opaline Green (top). Le Creuset Cool Mint is Caran d’Ache Jade Green (bottom).
Is it any coincidence my favorite book is aquamarine?

Here my studio is looking very murky in a cool film and lens from Hipstamatic. There is a lot of aqua in this room.



My passion for pottery is a funny one. The pieces that tend to make my heart sing are in ocean color. I have, over years of collecting, found many pieces that had to come home with me, even if they were cracked or broken. The piece that means the most is this McCoy jardiniere and pedestal base duo that I bought in a tiny town two summers ago. I first saw these in Martha Stewart’s How to Decorate book. Gosh that woman has amazing taste. This color of McCoy is spectacular. I had been looking for this set, in my budget for years and it was 20 minutes away the whole time.

This color.
A pottery shell planter by Gracetone.
McCoy minty aqua glaze on the swallows jardiniere. This piece has cracks, but it’s so lovely despite that.  I still remember it was only $8 in 2002.
Ocean beauty in McCoy on the top left, candlesticks by VanBriggle, swirled pots by Bauer and another Gracetone shell, this one broken and glued long ago.
Abbey’s champagne/wheat Heywood-Wakefield colored fur matches our 50s Hey-Wake upstairs and looks great with aqua!
Gorgeous minty-ness from Martha By Mail Fenton herb pots and a bag from a candy store.

There is also my love of the TV show “Flipper” and the many colors of the underwater photography. Along with that is our Adventure People Sea Explorer which is a perfect flipper set!



With love and marine loveliness to you from Kansas Street,





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close