The fifth element in a great beach vacation: the people you share it with. Not all friends travel well together. Luckily, The Blogstresses* [who?? see end of post] get along just fine whether at city or shore, a delightful fact we discovered when Barbara Hammond suggested she, Lee Romano Sequeira and I hold our monthly gathering at her cheerful beach house in Ocean City.

THE BEACH:  Ocean City, NJ  Although on weekdays a peaceful calm reigns over the stretch of sand and sea at the end of Barb's block, the front porch is where she finds her bliss, whether painting, writing, refueling or socializing. I just love this poem she wrote about it.

THE BOOK: Barb chose Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas and Found Happiness by Dominique Browning because "it resonates with me about how crazy our lives have to get before we slow down and really live.  And I love Dominique's blog, mostly for the visuals. She has the most beautiful blog--wish I could figure out how to emulate it!"

THE LOOK: Barbara Hammond's creative cottage is just what you'd expect from an artist, with handpainted murals and a happy kaleidoscope of colors. "For years my husband, kids and I moved all over the country," says Barb.  "But no matter where we lived, for two weeks every summer Ocean City was home. Now I'm living my dream by having my own house here."

For attire, former Jersey girl Lee suggested I head to B&B, a mini department store overflowing with sundresses, bathing suits, flip-flops and more.  (I did and snagged a cute little aqua sundress and crazy-big, leopard-lined Murval straw bag for a song.) 

LET'S COOK:  "How about my Lemon Pasta?" Barb responded when I asked what she'd cook at the beach.  " It's quick, easy and good hot, room temperature or cold."  (I couldn't wait for a beach trip.  Made it immediately and mmmm--delicious anywhere!)  Here's the recipe:
1 box of your fave pasta
2 lemons (or more if you're crazy for lemon)
1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or romano if you like)
Cook pasta per box directions. Meanwhile zest one lemon into a bowl then squeeze both lemons into same bowl.  Add olive oil.  Using a small whisk gradually add cheese and mix until cheese melts into the oil and becomes creamy. Toss pasta in this yummy mixture and enjoy!
Book image via All other images courtesy Barbara Hammond.  To see more of Barb's work visit her Flickr page and blog, Zero to 60 & Beyond.

*Who are The Blogstresses?  Three Philly friends--myself, Style Maniac; Barb, Zero to 60 & Beyond; and Lee, Madnesss, Mom & Me--who support, inspire and assist each other in our blogging endeavors ... plus enjoy cocktails and a lot of laughter.  If you recently started a blog, biz or other new venture I highly recommend gathering a support group to share the sometimes bumpy, other times bubbly journey with you.

"Use the good china for breakfast."