Monday, November 29, 2010

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through! ~Author Unknown

flash mob (or flashmob) is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then disperse.The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral email. (from

I'm always the last one to hear about any new trend. If it weren't for my 24 yo niece Pookie who lives with me I would be total obtuse about Snookie, the Kardashion's, or McDreamy - McSteamy - or any other variety of Mac except the Big Mac. It was my niece that gently corrected me "Ant Karen - you say "it's the bomb" not "it's a bomb". Whew, somebody's gotta keep this on-the-sunnyside-of-middle-age lady straight.

So flash mob? Who knew? A group of people with a common song or dance that just pounces it's performance on unsuspecting people in a public place...Come on - that rocks. (not to be confused with "a rock") And Christmas music to boot! What a way to jump start your holiday spirit...enjoy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"I've got a new madness! I'm running wild for shells. The beauty of shells are as infinite as flowers." - Mary Delany, 18th century shell artist

Welcome to the 1st Annual Making Christmas a Merrier

 Holiday One Ornament at A Time Linky Party!

I am thrilled to get this party started!!

I always liked show & tell days at school.  I was one of the nerdy kids that brought in all my treasures to show off to the class.  I started a tradition  with the Hubbs when we were newly married 30 years ago and had our first tree.  I buy a "couple" ornament for us but some years later I started buying or making a seashell ornament for me. Well now,  I've been around awhile so I have a few keepsakes to share and I know you do too.

To join the party -  it's very simple.

* just copy/paste the web address of the specific blog post or your blog home page.
* add a title of the project in the appropriate box.
* choose the best picture so I can easily see what you have to share.
(it will give you an opportunity to choose a picture when you are linking up)

I also ask that you link back to me in your post!

that way more people can come and join the party!!

 So link up.  Have fun.  Visit some of the other posts and tell them you found them at The Essential Beachcomber!

The Christmas joy is spreading! I am linking up with Doberman's by the Sea's Bavarian Christmas Linky Party

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shift Happens

When one lives in Florida it can be a challenge to get into the holiday spirit especially if you are a transplant from the north. I am a native-born Florida cracker so my holiday spirit has never been attached to snow. But the holidays are something I start dreading around August - September. The thought of shopping, cooking, mailing, decorating, baking, spending....aaahhhh! I usually am in a Cracker Barrel that already has 7 Christmas trees up and the Alan Jackson Christmas CD is blaring full blast and it dawns on me..yee gads it's coming again. Then I forget about it and Autumn rolls around. 

 The big box home improvement store I work for can't be outdone by Cracker Barrel so we put the Christmas stuff out right along  with the Halloween decorations  so there is a big honking witch cackling away on aisle 24 with Santa ho ho ho-ing out of the big blow-up snow globe right across the aisle.  It's confusing.

 But something magical happens to me on the day before Thanksgiving. I usually go to my storage to get all my Christmas tubs because I commence the decorating on Thanksgiving night while everyone is passed out from tryptophan/carbohydrate overload.  The attitude of gratitude from Thanksgiving has washed away all my commiserating about the hustle bustle of Christmas and I just shift over in to MERRY CHRISTMAS-mode.  So today my day was filled with the usual pre-festivity errands and shopping.  I stopped by to see Brandi from The Shell Shop.  She was putting out the Christmas shell ornaments in her shop
Pretty Murex - love the touch of rose

Sparkly Scallop
Brandi had just made these before I got there
These cuties are made from sea biscuits

The star of the show
Brandi said these were made by a  92  yo woman who recently went into a nursing home. Bless her darlin heart - aren't they just gorgeous.

Across the street from Brandi's shop is another cute coastal gift shop called Beach Road Boutique.  The owner was nice enough to let me take some pics of this shellicious topiary that was out front. I'll be telling you some more about this shop soon. It was packed with beautiful things from the sea.
Shellicious topiary made by local artist Gail Rogers in front of Beach Road Boutique 1350 Beach Road in Englewood, Florida.

If you want to really bling out your coastal Christmas Bealls Department Store is one stop shopping. Anytime I need something glitzy or sparkly I head straight to Bealls. I've never been let down and it's usually 40% off. 
Dr. Seuss meets the beach
Love love white trees but would never happen at my house
So let's get this party started. Have a wonderful & blessed Thanksgiving.  Come back on Friday for my 1st Linky Party to share your Christmas shell ornaments or any coastal-beachy ornaments for that matter.. I wish I had a nice way to close but my mom GeeGee just discovered she thawed out chili not her fresh pureed pumpkin so it seems I have a pumpkin crisis of sorts to attend to. And to all a good night.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

“I recently had my annual physical examination, which I get once every seven years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to discover how much stronger the Earth's gravitational pull has become since 1990.” Dave Barry

                   What do this 

                         and this
                   have in common?

           Full moon night shelling 
            on Englewood Beach.

As I was driving home from work last night I rolled all the windows down to let the nice cool Florida air blow through my truck. The full moon was just shining over the tree line. I work a late shift so as I walked quietly through the door at home so I wouldn't wake anyone I decided I was not ready to call it a night.  Well I was  but I'm calling it Night Shelling. 

I tiptoed into my closet in the dark so I wouldn't wake up the Hubbs (the most dangerous part of night shelling-the closet not hubbs) grabbed my sweatshirt & jeans. I decided to travel lightly - my mack daddy 230 lumen's LED flashlight, extra batteries, camera to document anything blog-worthy, & a Ziploc baggie for shark's teeth. 

The beach is an 8 minute drive from where I live. Apparently I'm not the only one around here sensitive to gravitational pull.  The moon had drawn quite a few others. People were fishing off the bridge and the 3 little beach bars were hopping. It was after 10pm so Yay! free parking. The beach looked really  really dark until my eyes adjusted.  It was very surreal.  The moon was overhead and the entire beach was basking in it's glow. As the strains of Bob Seger blared from the full moon party at the bar I started up the beach with some night moves of my own. 
Nice shell line & no competetion at 11pm

Nice spotlight on my LED flashlight

The shell crush before the sun bakes it

I will definitely make beach combing under the full moon part of my regular routine. Once I got my senses adjusted to the sights & sounds of the dark it was very peaceful and calming out there. The LED flashlight showed up all the goodies but didn't light the entire beach up. Turtle season was over November 1st so lights are now legal again.

 After a few hours all by myself I passed a young couple walking home from the bar. They asked what I was doing.  I gave them a huge moon snail and they said I was "cool". I didn't keep the flashlight on the entire time. I would shut it off from time to time and just sit on the damp sand & moon bathe. The sounds of the birds and waves are even louder at night.

Heading back to my truck I had another curious person stumble up to me and asked slurring her words "Hey, what the heck are you doing?". A hundred witty responses came to me but I was nice- "I'm looking for shark's teeth." She just stood there looking at me in the dark. Finally she asked "Why". "Because it's fun" I replied. "Oh, that's cool" and she teetered off. Wow, 2 cools in one night.  Night shelling - I highly recommend it.

I found a nice gray tooth

Jar Update - Almost over half full
My mom gave me this

Friday, November 19, 2010

Going a Little Coastal This Christmas

There is a fine line separating those of us who collect and those folks who make it on to reality tv shows like "Hoarders" & "Clean Sweep". Every collector sooner or later runs into the problem of space. Our mantra is "I know I have one of those - I just can't find it". All my stuff is in tubs. I have a storage locker filled with the niece  Pookie on one side, my mom GeeGee on the other, & me. The Hubbs even has a box or two. I hate to keep my treasures packed away but I only have so much space. 

 To resolve the issue somewhat I picked up a neat  old hutch to use for storage and display.  I saw the hutch at a tag sale. It had what I thought was $150.00 dollars written on the price tag.  In an effort to get the seller to step his price down a tad I started asking about the hutch and the price.  The seller quips at  me "Lady, it's 15 bucks - how much lower do you want me to go?" SOLD Darlin -  I slapped the money into his hand and carried my new hutch home where we now revolve  displays around the seasons or holidays or whatever else strikes our fancy. 

The hutch is currently full of shells

My salt & pepper shakers
2008 Was a White Christmas with lots of cardinals

Last Xmas was a vintage display with our 60's plastic collectibles

So this is my inspiration piece for this year's holiday decorating. I found this little village at TJ Maxx on my lunch hour and of course could not resist. I am going to play off it's aqua blue & pinky reds when I decorate for the holidays. I'm going a little coastal this Christmas. 

This week  I'll be going through my tubs of ornaments and decorations at my storage unit and locating all my seashell ornaments.  I'm sure you have some too so meet me back here next Friday for my first linky party to display your favorite seashell Christmas ornament  and even better - Are you making any this year? - share those too. Let's all work together to make Christmas a jollier holiday one shell at a time.

Wishing you all the  joys of the season with beach sand between your toes!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No one needs a vacation more than the person who just had one. -Source Unknown

Well, my vacation is winding down. Whew!I've had such a full schedule. I went to a conference in Sarasota on vacation day #1 & 2. Days 3-7 were in Sanibel doing a little power shelling with blogger friends. The Hubbs & I drove up to Tampa on day #8 to meet family for a wonderful dinner at International Mall. 

As I was planning my time off on my scheduling calender I noticed someone had penciled herself in for my only remaining day.  That would be my niece Pookie who is also one of my best garage sale-ing buddies. She had an entire day planned starting at 7:30 am where we would leave for the biggest community garage sale of the year - Sawgrass Lakes in Venice, Florida. There was also time scheduled for Thai food so I sharpied her in - it's a go.
The early bird catches the worm - and also waits in line to get in

Where to begin?  Pookie chose a left-flank attack
House after house looked just like this

The line of cars to get into the development was about 1/4 mile long.  As you entered Sawgrass Lakes one of their volunteers handed you a map of the area.  So off we went going carefully up and down each street looking for fine junque. Apparently it was my day to be in the zone.  I had my money spent in 1 hour. 
First purchase of the day. Gotta take care of my momma - Sweet lady for GeeGee's collection

No price tags for this seller.  She had it going on with price lists.  

Venice is full of bargain hunters

I found a resin Giga Clamshell for 3 bucks!
After 3 hours we were about done and ready to head on out but Pookie had me stop at one more area that looked promising.  As I parked and walked up I couldn't believe my eyes...Shells, shells, and more shells. We met Jim & Judy Wedge of Coastal Creations of Florida.  They were selling some of the most creative shellcraft, specimen shells,  & beautiful nature photography I have seen in a while. 

Jim told me his pictures are widely published and I can see why - I was embarassed to be taking my pics with a little Canon which doesn't do justice at all to his art.  Check them out online.  They will be doing several events in the Venice area in the next few months. See, even when I am garage sale-ing shells follow me.
Judy Wedge of Coastal Creations of Florida
Lovely Shell craft arrangements

The Wedge's snorkel the Keys & Bahama's to find these beauties

Go to their website for a better view of Jim's photography

Where the last of my money went - more shells

So, one more day left of vacation and it's back to work on Monday.  I'll probably spend some time tomorrow finding some room for all my new shells.  So the ongoing saga continues - The question -"What do you do with all those shells?" Well, I'm working on it - I'm working on it.  I'll keep you posted.
Pots for my Hoyas 3 @ 50 cents apiece, water for the squirrels, & fresh key limes for 25 cents a bag
Lions paw, Tellin, & horse conchs oh my!
New purse, new green wrap-around sweater, Cameo locket, & carved stone beads for 8 bucks...yeah baby!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

“Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination, we forget the journey.” - unknown

Let the fun begin!!

I have shelling down to a science.  I know the right weather conditions for the best shells. I am familiar with practically every beach on the west coast of Florida and the type of shells you can find there. I have a tide chart app on my phone that can tell me the low/high tide times, moon phases, and the sun rise/set times. I have tools - shell shovel, shell sifters, and hand rakes for the big shell piles.  You might say I am passionate about my favorite past time. 

People ask me all the time where do you find the best shells? I can give them my best guess but as I have learned that all the planets can line up for a good shelling day and you can still come up empty handed. Oh, you'll always find scallops, arks, & lots of venus clams but we tend to want the alphabet cones, horse conchs, & that every elusive Junonia.

My hopes were high as I drove to Sanibel with my best shelling buddy Rhonda of Shellbelle's Tiki Hut. We started out at Little Hickory at a sweet little spot north of beach access 10. After our 2 hour drive we arrived at at the beach at 7am to some rather nippy weather. We were joined by blogger buds Debbie of Love of the Sea & Pam from i Love Shelling. The low tide was a minus .05 and there had been nice NW winds so we had high expectations.

 The 20 minute walk to the sweet spot was filled with the  lively conversation of new friends getting to know each other.  It's so much fun to actually speak to a blogger friend face to face as opposed to email. We spent the morning swapping stories & sharing our shell finds with each other. Debbie found an awesome tulip shell but beyond that no junonias...ratz! So on to Sanibel.

Our little (little being the operative word) beach efficiency
All I need is the coffee maker

Shower size does matter

Rhonda & I checked into our motel that I had booked online months ago around 2pm. They had told me the room was small but I was not really expecting how small.  After we got over the shock of the tiny   kitchenette/bathroom/bedroom storage locker sized space we settled in. It did have it's redeeming qualities - 2 nice chairs on a little porch, an area to clean shells, & we were only steps from a world class shelling beach. Being good campers we rolled with it.
Nice area to wash & sort the shells

The view west to the beach

The walk out to the beach was beautiful

After a yummy supper of hummus, flat bread, fresh avocado, & grilled chicken we settled in for some sleep so we could get up nice & early to go shelling. Since all the other motel rooms  shared a  water heater we got caught on the short end of the hot water supply for showers so we reverted back to our camping skills to get cleaned up.

The alarm went off at 5am - 2 cups of coffee later we were off. We walked about 1/2 mile south to an awesome shell pile and not just one but two exposed sand bars.  We spent 4 hours of pure shelling bliss before the tide started back in. 
Shellbelle looking for goodies

Some of my finds 

Rhonda says "Don't say we rock - we shell!"

The only junonia we found this trip was in a shop  for $35.

 And that is how our 3 days of Sanibel went - shelling - eating - shelling - thrift store -night shelling - shopping - more shelling - watch sunset. It was all made even better because I got to share it with my friends - new blogger buddies and a treasured girlfriend who shares my quest to make the planet a better place one shell at a time.
Karen & Rhonda at the Lighthouse Fishing Pier beach