by Marisa Marcantonio

After sitting outside amidst hungry mosquitoes numerous times last weekend, I decided there has to be a better way to protect against bugs while dining al fresco. Thus began my quest to find the attractive bug - off candle. Behold, my finds below. Just light a half an hour before sitting down at the table and you will create an anti-bug barrier. Don't let pesky flying things get in the way of your having a good time.

Photo courtesy of Sur La Table
How adorable, mini Citronella candles in terra cotta pots. Buy a bunch from Sur La Table

Photo courtesy of Terrain
With 80 hours of burn time, Terrain's Summer's Night Citronella Candle in a simple recycled glass pot can double as a wine coaster when finished.

Photo courtesy of Bloomingdales
What a pleasant surprise to learn that Juliska makes a triple wick Citronella candle in their classic Berry and Thread tabletop pattern. It looks good while working hard. Available at Bloomingdales.

Photo courtesy of Lafco
If citronella is not really your thing, Geranium and and Mint are nature's miracle combination to ward off stingers. Lafco's successful House and Home collection of substantial candles in hand blown glass vessels are attractive and subtle.

Photo courtesy of Anthropologie
And if you are really vigilant, you can head off swarms by arming yourself before venturing out of doors with Hazelwood's Bug-Be-Gone Lotion. An exclusive blend of citronella, nepetalactone (concentrated catnip), lavender, and black pepper essential oils do their thing. Find it at Anthropologie.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Call it Melamania. I have it. A love of melamine that comes on strong every summer. John Derian's newly launched collection of plastic plate designs set it in motion.  Elevating the act of eating outside, classic French Faience pottery designs have migrated onto plastic. Derian, known for creating decoupage plates and accessories out of old book drawings and artwork gets it right with these four French designs, and they even have the high and low relief that make them feel like the real thing.  Originally, the earthenware was produced in Luneville, France in the mid 1700's.  Just don't stick these in the microwave, they won't like it.  Tres chic. Bon appetite.

Photos courtesy of John Derian

Raised at the rim, the Fleurs Isolees Dinner Plate has a sweet bloom and leaf design. If you love flowers this pattern is for you with the traditional tulips and roses.

Faience Italo-Nivernais Melamine Plate with a naive scenic band and center, all in blue and white.

Birds, butterflies and blooms dance around the border of the salad plate in Faience a la Corne

With the Faience Slice Charger in a generous size, blue and white always looks right. It mixes with other colors well and the symmetrical petal sections filled with scroll work have a charm that look old world yet fresh. I recall loving this plate in decoupage, now I can spring for more than just one.


by Marisa Marcantonio

It's time to get the party started.  Summer festivities call for the perfect invitation to set the mood of the event to come. Create excitement around a fete!  I love the new designs from Paperless Post, some of which are available in paper, mailable versions. Choose from "best of" designs created by letterpress and graphic artists  you know and love-  decoupage artist John Derian, whimsical prints from Kate Spade, charming drawings by Linda and Harriet, quirky cute motifs from Mr. Boddington's Nephew,  elegant script by calligrapher extroardinaire Bernard Maisner, classics from the new addition, Oscar de la Renta, and tons more.  Here are some themed invites to set the tone and give people a reason to gather on a breezy summer day.  Cheers.

Beach House by Virginia Johnson. You may recall her watercolors from Deborah Needleman's book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home, a tome I adore.

Poppies by John Derian

Blooms by Kate Spade

Geranium, another great one by Virginia

Bring on the charm- Bernard Maisner's Hand Painted Snake

A signature drink always gets people excited,  it always has me at hello. Cucumber Lemonade Vodka from Linda and Harriet

Hand Painted Elephant, by Bernard Maisner

Please Join Us from Blue Pool Road

Sea by John Derian for an old timey feel

Surfing is BIG, from custom surf boards at Saturday Surf to their Pret a Surf collab of striped and polka dot rash guard shirts and board shorts. Carter Kustera's Surfer Bro invite says it all.

Oops they spelled Darien wrong, but we forgive. Betsy Ross Handiwork by Mr. Boddington's Nephew says 4th of July with quirk.

Popsicles for everyone! Popsicle Pattern from Linda and Harriet

Burger Beer from the Indigo Bunting captures the perfect burger a la artist Robert Rauschenberg.


by Marisa Marcantonio

It seems as though the weather on the East Coast will not be cooperating this weekend, so kicking off summer may mean less beach, more movie-going. You can still be prepared for the sun's arrival with beachy basics that have you covered all season long. From picnics in the park to sunsets in the sand, here are some summery designs you will want close at hand.

Serena and Lily just launched the most amazing Shop at the Beach in Wainscott, LI where I spotted this heavenly perch. Spend lazy days swinging away in their woven Double Hanging Rattan Chair. Throw some of their festive printed pillows into the mix, a cool lemonade and a good book, and you are all set.

Photo courtesy of Crate and Barrel

A summer classic, the Adirondack Chair gets a modern spin with Crate and Barrel's Vista Chair. Strong lines give their teak version an entirely new look.

Photo courtesy of C. Wonder

Carry meals to and fro the garden or set up bar on this Melamine Cane Tray from C. Wonder in a classic navy and white color combo.

Photo courtesy of West Elm

Inventive and festive patterns can transform melamine plates into another realm. Fun plastic plates should never be boring, as with West Elm's cheery Mexican-inspired Bright Shapes design, available in pink, yellow and orange salad and dinner sized versions.

Iced tea and lemonade quench thirst better when consumed from a chic glass, in this case, C. Wonder's Cane Tumbler Plastic Glass.

Photo courtesy of World Market

Could this flatware be any chicer? Dipped-handle enamel and stainless steel flatware from World Market is picnic ready and a major steal. The great color adds punch to a summer table.

Photo courtesy of Pomegranate

The new coral and shell Lyford print in aqua from Pomegranate is one of my favorites. The two color hand-blocked pattern is casual and breezy.

Photo courtesy of Terrain

Have a bottle opener handy at all times, you never know when the party will start. Terrain Just Hooked Fish bottle opener will ensure the ginger beer is flowing.

Photo courtesy of Target

Named after my favorite beach, Surfside, Nate Berkus's Target Collection Towel with an interlocking woven pattern in navy and white is chic and crisp.

 Photo courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Pillows that look nice both outdoors and in are tricky to find. Jonathan Adler's Aegean Wave Pillow in cobalt with turquoise trim is a good summer find.

Photo courtesy of Matouk

Amazing graphic abstract patterns on plush beach towels from Matouk, now available through their website.

Photo courtesy of C. Wonder

Perfect your swing with C. Wonder's Paddle Set in lively stripes. 

Photo courtesy of Turkish T

Stock up on soft cotton Turkish-T Fouta towels in the skinny Candy Stripe, they double as a beach towel, sarong and scarf.

Photo courtesy of Iomoi

Stash jewelry, shoes and small stuff in Iomoi's monogrammed canvas set of 3 Travel Bags. You will feel SO organized. Choose from a darling assortment of custom designs and motifs Irene has designed.

Photo courtesy of J. Crew

Pack beach balls and towels in a roomy tote, like this one designed by the talented graphic artist Virginia Johnson for J. Crew with friendly sharks swimming in a blue sea.