Beach Week

Ladies and gentlemen: are you tired of hearing me talk about the beach? I am very sorry. I am going to say a few more words about it. And I am going to show you a lot of pictures. And also I am going to tell you about our insanely amazing beach house, which you should try to rent for yourself. If you can't get it, it's because I have rented it again.

First, let's start with the Instagram photos I took while we were there.

Well, wait, first, I guess I should tell you about the group we went with. It was me/Vince; Al, Chris, and Marlo; Pamie/Jason; and Maggie/Hank. Madeleine not included, sadly.

OK. Instagram. Here we go.

Pictured: Vince and Hank on our specially-ordered canvas rafts, which were awesome. Hank had never been on a Gulf Coast beach vacay before, and was a little afraid of the ocean. He acclimated in record time. Also pictured is Maggie, on another raft waaaaaaay back there. See the red-headed dot? You got it.

Here is what I did every day: put my toes in the sand and read books.

Here is another thing I did every day: wear scarves and bikinis and get a tan.

Here is a thing Allison did every day: drink wine, wear caftans, and pretend to be smoking.

Our house was on the bay side of Perdido Key. In my whole life I had never stayed on the bay side of things, and now I will never stay elsewhere. Our house, which was a) bright green, and b) octagonal, featured a full bar downstairs, hammocks, Adirondack chairs, crab traps, a kayak, a pier for fishing/jumping off, an outdoor shower, picnic tables, a swing, and some other things I am not remembering but were awesome. There was also a crazy little boat house (pictured above) that we thought at first was a sex room, but actually held more cots and fishing paraphernalia.

The door to the shower. $1.00.

One of the wooden posts in the bar featured license plates from previous visitors. There were several Alabama plates with Auburn tags that distressed Allison greatly, as she is a life-long Alabama fan.

The end of the pier had steps down to our own private little beach. In the late afternoons, we watched jellyfish float by and helped Hank catch hermit crabs. Does that sound idyllic? It was.

Have you ever wanted to see Chaos in bathing suits? WISH GRANTED.

Jason looks on as Maggie and Hank get real excited about hermit crabs.

Marlo was ready for the beach at ALL TIMES. Let's not talk about the fact that she was totally not into the beach at all. A girl has to be presentable, doesn't she? Yes.

Having little Hank there reminded me of all the years when Mad was there with us, all excited about nets and sand crabs and whatnot.

After the kids went to bed each night, the adults gathered at the bar for drinking/fighting/singing/games.

This past week has convinced me that Perdido/Orange Beach is better than any other place in Florida. Actually, it's better than any other place in the world. You want to come next year? Let's GO.

(Pictures by AB Chao, Pamie, and Maggie)


AB Chao: Hit Blogger

Greetings, nation. We are still at the beach, but I wanted to take a small time-out from reading and setting crab traps to let you know about a great thing: I am a Feature Story today on most excellent eBay blog, The Inside Source. I mean, any article that starts like this--

Anna Beth Chao, better known to readers by her blog name, AB Chao, has enough Southern charm and spunk to launch a whole new Designing Women series. By herself. She could be the entire cast.

--has got to be awesome, right? Also, they called me a "hit blogger," which, while fabulous, should not be confused with "hip blogger." Which I am not. I ain't got no hips, y'all.

Anyway, please check it out. They say very nice things about me, and I am excited about that.

I'll be back next week. Catch you on the flip, lovers.


Roundup: Gulf Coast Vacation

I have been going to the Gulf Coast of Florida for vacation with my family ever since I can remember. I remember riding in the back of a van with my cousin Catherine when we were little, then taking turns driving my grandparents with my cousin Susan when we were older, and always, always stopping at a rest stop halfway there to eat pimiento cheese sandwiches. (Oh, how I hated that part. Look into a McDonald's, GRANDMOTHER.) Then, when Madeleine was born, introducing the tradition to her and Vince. This year will be the first that she hasn't gone with us -- she is staying in town to do some high-school-sorority-related activities (read: hazing freshmen). We will miss her a lot, but she knows she will be back. This year, new friends and their kids are coming, and I'm so excited to introduce them to our good old Redneck Riviera. Here, for your enjoyment, the things I love most about Florida:

1. Shrimp boils 2. The Flora-Bama 3. That beautiful emerald water 4. Polka dot bikinis 5. Catching sand crabs at night with flashlights and buckets 6. Rainbow umbrellas 7. Miller High Life (The Champagne of Beers) 8. Acoustic guitar sing-alongs 9. Straw cowboy hats 10. BEACH BOOKS! (This year's picks: Spoiled; This Won't Hurt A Bit; Bossypants) 11. Perdido Bay

We leave Sunday, and I cannot wait. See you on the flip side, fools.


Client Design: High and Low Bedroom

I helped an online client with her bedroom recently (along with her living room, and I am waiting with BATED BREATH for the "after" pictures, damn, hurry up, Jen!), and she asked for some high and low options for each. We used a great picture as inspiration for her bedroom, this amazing design from Elizabeth Bauer's bedroom in Lonny:

Sigh. If only I could use Porthault linens in all of my designs. Anyway, I made my adorable client a high and low version of her bedroom. We ended up using totally different wallpaper and bed linens, but the end result is going to be just as gorgeous. And you could do way worse than starting with this for inspiration.

Here, for your viewing enjoyment, is the high/low version of this bedroom.

1. I'd actually recommend finding a vintage tufted headboard and having it recovered, but you can buy both of these online. (High/Low: Serena & Lily/West Elm)

2. Differently priced wallpapers, same great impact. Oh, how I want to wallpaper someone's ceiling. Any takers? (High/Low: Rose Cumming/Random internet wallpaper)

3. If you are going to buy a damn sconce with a cord/cord cover, it might as well be an affordable one. Add an inexpensive shade and you are a design hero. (High/Low: Circa Lighting/CSN; Shade: Laura Ashley)

4. Oh, Porthault. I love you almost as much as I love my beloved home-staters, Leontine Linens. However, some of us have to use substitutes for now. (High/Low: Porthault/Garnet Hill)

5. One of these is high, and one is low. Can you tell the difference? I thought not. (High/Low: Restoration/Overstock)

6. If you do not have a beautiful white tole chandelier available to you, then I suggest you find some bargain vintage light and spray paint the shit out of it. (High/Low: Both random internet searches)

I hope you have enjoyed this episode of High/Low. I certainly have. Bargain shoppers forever!


AB Chao Wants You.


Examples of items I would love to represent: Epiphanie bags; the San Jose in Austin; Kate Spade phone covers

OK, Chao Nation, here's the deal. Y'all have known me for a long time. And you know I am a blogger from way back, and love my readers, and would never do you wrong. So, after thinking long (LONG!) and hard (HARD!) about this, I have decided to accept advertisers/sponsors on this here Internet blog site. I know, I know. Don't be mad. Listen. Here is what I want to promote: people I love; products I love; and small businesses I am excited about. So, basically, awesomeness of all kinds. I would like to start with a sponsor-type situation in the sidebar, and go from there. And, I mean, if you are a big company who wants to give me 17 aged-brass sconces (I'm looking at you, Circa Lighting), then all the better.

Are you interested? Do you think you are right for the AB Chao family? Email me for a press kit and/or rates.

PS. If you call me a sell-out, we are DONE.