Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“It’s hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like therapy...Beach Therapy” --Amy Dykens

The Hubbs was installing speakers in the living room for a surround sound so I figured  it would be a good time to make myself busy (quickly) before I got appointed the designated Gofer.  You know - Honey, can you go fer the speaker wire I forgot?  Honey, can you go fer a special screw diver I need from Home Depot?  Honey, can you go fer a Band-Aid? All the sudden despite poor tides & cool winds, it is looking like a really good shelling day. 

 I started the day on Bonita Springs & ended it with the sunset on Sanibel - Blind Pass to be exact.  The sand bar is back on the Captiva side with lots of shells.  There was also a nice shell pile on the jetty.  I got hit straight-away with a huge wave which soaked the better part of my levis & sweatshirt (I saved the camera & iPhone though) Oh well.  I'm not going home till I know that speaker project is finished.

Little Hickory 10-spot

Blind Pass on the Captiva Side aka Turner Beach

Monday, November 28, 2011

Australia is so cool that it's hard to even know where to start describing it. The beaches are beautiful; so is the weather. Not too crowded. Great food, great music, really nice people. It must be a lot like Los Angeles was many years ago. Mary-Kate Olsen

Winter in Florida

The turkey is eaten, the leaves have fallen, & baby, it's starting to get cold outside.  Don't pack up that bathing suit so fast.  If it's 5 o'clock somewhere then it's summer somewhere as well.  That somewhere would be on the opposite side of the globe from the US in the continent of  Australia.  As we here in the US start bundling up for winter the Aussies are heading to the beach.  I have always loved everything about Australia. Their sports teams play like warriors, the people have an authenticity about them, & their accent is really cool.  The diversity of the terrain & climate range from tropical regions in the north through the arid expanse of the interior to the temperate regions of the south. Australia is surrounded by water & has 1,600 miles of coastline. For a beachcomber such as myself that many possible miles of beaches could keep me occupied for a long long time.  But alas, no trips to down-under are on my itinerary this winter. But with one click of the mouse I can visit the beaches of Australia via the blogging community.


Prudence is from the Sydney area.  She lives on the beaches of northern Sydney but she also travels via caravan (what we in the US call RV'ing) on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales.  I love to follow her beach combing trips with her sons Gus & Luke.  She makes these adorable dolls called "Flotsam Friends" from their beach treasure finds.  Pru gives you a peek into her real life that balances wife, working mom, & creative artist.  There's hope for us  ya'll.


I Heart Sunny Days
Another beachy blogger is located further north up the coast in the town of Cairns.  Situated on the North East side of the continent in Queensland their beaches  run parallel with the Great Barrier Reef.  That would inspire me to blog about life on the beach.  I Heart Sunny Days is a sprightly blog about thrifting, crafting, & living on the beach.  She also has a separate blog for you Pyrex Collectors.


Beachcomber - simple living
Filled with hip coastal decorating ideas, Cheryl from the Beachcomber blog lives in Sydney, Australia.  I remember watching the opening ceremonies from the Olympic Games coming from Sydney back in 2000 thinking "No one will ever top this."  Beachcomber blog has a vibrant dynamic city & beaches to draw her inspiration from.  The foto's are stunning as well.


Coastal Style
Melissah is an interior designer who lives on the southern coast in the state of Victoria.  This particular blog (she has 3) is like flicking through the pages of a fashion magazine.  If you are looking for coastal inspiration for your home or wardrobe, Melissah's blog is young, trendy, & full of ideas.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart it the holidays already?  I still have a bag of Christmas wrapping paper in my closet that I was going to take to my storage closet from last year & never did.  Sometimes I watch Martha Stewart in all her holiday perfection, making homemade felt mice candy cane holders & recycled snowflake garland & I just want to punch her.  Really.  Seriously.  Who has the time or the extra money for this stuff? So, I'm off to the grocery store for my 2nd Thanksgiving shopping trip to buy all the stuff I forgot the 1st trip. The Salvation Army has gotten a jump on things & is already stationed at both doors ring ring ring ringing away. I got a text from someone who saw a line of people camped out in front of Best Buy for Black Friday.  Have we all just lost our minds? 

 I head back to the meat department to buy my turkey before my mother gets back from out-of-town where she is visiting friends.  If I buy it before she gets back I can get away with a 13 lb-er.  If she goes with me, we'll end up with a 25 lb-er.  My mom still thinks she is cooking for 15 people and there is only 3 of us. (Grumble crumble complain complain)  I'm bent over elbow deep in the frozen birds looking for a smaller turkey that I think my mom & the hubby will be happy with when out of the corner of my eye I see something odd on someone's head.  After a closer look I find it is a lady wearing a hat - a turkey hat.  She is smiling away, talking to the seafood guy at his counter. He's laughing & chatting back obviously enjoying helping her with her order.  Funny thing is, everyone looking her way is smiling too.  Even the folks shaking their heads as they are passing by have a smile on their face. 

 Her name is Tammy.  She has to work on Thanksgiving so she is in the grocery store buying the fixings to make turkey dinner for all her co-workers tomorrow.  Oh yeah, I remember now.  THANKS GIVING - The Giving of Thanks. I mentally thump myself on the head & make a few quick adjustments in my attitude of gratitude.  I go back over to the frozen turkey case & trade my scrawny 10lb-er in for a more respectable 16lb-er that will be more to my mom's liking. Tammy reminded me that a thankful heart is a happy heart.  I want to be a carrier of gratitude that infects everyone in my path with happiness.  With a grateful heart the circumstances of life don't effect us because our focus is on the things that are most important things in life - family, friends, and wearing a turkey hat in Publix to spread some Thanksgiving joy.

What is on that woman's head?

Oh No. You. Don't.  Have a turkey on your head.

Tammy is wearing the coolest turkey hat ever!

LOL  See the guy to the right pretending like he doesn't see her turkey hat.  

The turkey hats were running rampant.  Laura was out in the parking lot bringing in the carts.

Her sister made her the turkey hat. 

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!"
 ~Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, November 19, 2011

“Don't grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.” -- Michelle Held

Please forgive me for bragging but I had a hot date on Friday night.  Well, at least at my age & being married and all.... it is what I consider a hot date.  There was no fancy restaurant or movie tickets involved.  I did dress up in my best Columbia long-sleeved tee.  My dates (yes dates plural.  I told you I was bragging) showed up dressed casual as well but they brought along a cast net, 2 long-handled bait nets, & a couple of fishing poles.  These fellas know how to show a girl a good time.
This is Indian Mound Park on Lemon Bay in Englewood,  FL.  Mostly used for launching boats it's not a fancy county park but it's location on the bay is perfect for beachcombers & future marine biologists who love to walk the sea grass with their nets to see what they can find.
In the early 1900's Lemon Bay was a prime spot for fishing, mainly mullet.  The stories go that the mullet were so thick your boat would be full by the time you rowed across the bay.  They would just jump in. Not so much these days.
The boys like to run their nets gently through the sea grass and see what turns up.  It's amazing to listen to them identify the fish & sea life they scoop up.

Talk about a cheap date - these fellas even caught their own bait for fishing later on.
(Credit:  Momma Gee)
Brother Gee is a cross between Steve Irwin & Dr. Doolittle.  He sent the sheepshead packing back to the water after  the pic was taken.

(Credit:  Momma Gee)
Younger Brother Dubya caught a lady fish.  Like any younger brother he tries to keep up with Brother Gee.  The competition can get heated at times.

(Credit:  Momma Gee)
The sun had set but the darkness didn't stop us.  I brought out my Nightstick 230 lumens LED flashlight that I always keep handy in my truck.  And let me tell you what ladies, if you want to impress your man... this flashlight will do the job.  It gets all the men's attention.  It also got me the job of holding the flash light while Brother Dubya turned over rocks under the pier looking for fish to net.

(Credit:  MommaGee)
I had to receive instructions several times.  It seems the aim of my flashlight beam was less than helpful.

(Credit:  MommaGee)
Date night also included one of my besties & the boys mother MommaGee who is an amazing photographer & a celebrity in her own right.  She was the winner of Week #4 in this year's Englewood Pioneer Days photo contest.   

(Credit:  MommaGee)
Friday night live on Lemon Bay.  We can hear the strains of live music floating over from the cafes on Dearborn St but we are pretty content right here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser - John Gardner

It all started one windy, rainy, freezing night on the beach.  Lion's paws are an unusual find on SWFL beaches.  I just had a feeling that the storm that had been blowing for a few days last winter had stirred up the Gulf of Mexico enough to wash some goodies ashore.  I ran out to the beach after work with my flashlight and low & behold I was right.  There was a line of deep water shells all the way down the beach.  Since I was the only person crazy enough to brave the cold & go on the beach after dark I had the whole wrack line to myself. I scored some nice lion's paw fragments and  1 lion's paw that was intact.  After looking at them & cleaning them up I could just see they would make a great mermaid tail if I was to mosaic them. I started picking up orange scallops for the scales & worm shells for her hair.  All my junonia fragments would come in handy as well.

 I mentioned my idea of doing a mermaid mosaic off & on to some of my shelling buddies. Once you hear yourself say it out loud that pretty much commits you to a thing.  It was when I found a certain piece of anatomically correct coral that the project swung into high gear.  My local thrift shop provided a 60's abstract painting that the frame & hanger were in good shape to re-purpose.  After priming over the canvas I laid it out on my kitchen table with all my mermaid mosaic-designated shells ready to start my masterpiece.  Then company came in the form of a 6 yo & 4 yo nicknamed "Baby Godzilla".  Everything was put away to make room for Thomas the Train and Cars 2. After our visitors left hubby & I hit the road to do some travelling over the summer first to North Carolina then on to Pennsylvania.  So the dust has settled and a few weeks ago I cleared the table, laid out the canvas, sorted the shells and with glue in hand stood and stared at the white bare picture waiting for a download of inspiration. 

So I stared & stared some more.  I'd walk away for a bit and do housework or run errands.  Every time I passed the kitchen table the blank canvas would glare at me.  Alright!  Already!  You just have to start so I did and I'm done.  Well, I'm still pondering the border but the mermaid is complete. I'm very pleased with her because what I saw in my mind's eye is actually what I ended up with.  I named her Jenny in honor of a story of a woman who collects worm shells or "Jenny curls" as she calls them in memory of her daughter that passed on.  I don't consider myself an artist or a writer but I have moments where I do both.  I just make things or write about things that move my heart. Such is life.

Family Pectinidae
Nodipecten fragosus
(Conrad, 1849)
Northern lion paw

The inspiration piece

I found all the shells & sea glass except the driftwood arms ( they are from my mom's driftwood stash), the blue seaglass, and the face.  The face is a shell from Panama given to me by my shell brotha Capt. Brian.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It appears chili & cornbread are an amazing creative catalyst.
 For those of you who have grown weary of my constant whining for the last year over my mermaid mosaic ....the glueing has commenced.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Art Market is Back!

There are flea markets, farmer's markets, and now the Englewood area can boast of an art market in the truest sense of the word.  It seems that every week-end in Florida there is an outdoor art festival somewhere.  There are juried shows featuring fine art, sculpture, & photography. Other festivals feature a more casual arts & crafts of all kind from the stay-at-home mommy who scrapbooks to the hobbyist who makes jewelry to de-stress after work. The Placida Saturday Arts & Crafts Market draws from every level of artist, the professional to the week-end warrior.  The Market charges no vendor fee so the variety of art for sale is enormous.

The Market is located on the grounds of The Historic Placida Fishing Village.  The property plays host to all kinds of wonderful outside events throughout the year.  With it's park-like grounds shaded by big Gumbo Limbo trees & the sea breeze blowing in from Gasparilla Sound it is possibly the most perfect venue for an outdoor event in all of Florida. After browsing the art market you can amble over to the The Fishery Restaurant for a tasty lunch. Inside the Fishery Restaurant there are not only stunning views of Gasparilla Sound but the walls are covered with more art provided by Margaret Albritton whose gallery is on the grounds also. (look for the building with the 2 big kissing fish on the side) If you still have some energy left after all that art & fresh seafood the beach at Boca Grande is only 10 minutes away. So if you are an artist looking to sell or an aficionado looking to buy - save a Saturday to visit the Placida Saturday Art Market.  You'll have a great time.

Directions from Tampa or Fort Myers

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated. ~Lamartine

Just Kidding. Shellbelle is not missing - she's just been misplaced for a while.  She is taking a break from blogging to direct her energies in other directions for a spell.  She sends her love and wants everyone to know that she appreciates all of your thoughts, prayers, & encouraging emails.  If the prescribed therapy of shelling, art shows, garage sailing, & general meandering about with me doesn't do the trick, we are ordering IVs of sweet tea. It's been a long year but Shell is getting on the other side.  I know you'll be hearing from her soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

(Credit:  Chris Andruskiewicz)
Falling Leaves

Golden Sun  ~ Hay Rides ~  Pumpkins

Harvest  ~ Scarecrow ~  Family

Apple Cider ~ Autumn  Pies

 Leaf Piles ~ Fuzzy Sweaters

Pumpkin Spice Latte  ~ Beautiful Colors ~ Moon Beams

Blessings ~ Give Thanks