Sunday, January 31, 2010

Seashell Shopping at The Hut

Today I'm participating  in the very first Shop Your House Sunday with our lovely hostess, Kendall at Finesse Your Nest.

The premise behind this new meme is to "Shop" your house (in your pajamas if you wanna!) and create something for free! 

Projects can be ANYTHING,  like repurposing an item, moving something to a different room for a new look, a recycled project, painting projects, organizing projects, tablescapes, rearranging furniture...the sky's the limit.

I can't tell you how perfect this is for me! I have so many projects that have been put on the back burner, especially since I started blogging. When Kendall first announced she was going to hold this weekly event, I left a comment that said something to the effect that it would force me to get some of these things done. AND, this week I did just that.

If you were around The Hut at Christmas time you'll remember that I made a seashell "tree" in lieu of our traditional tree. This is how it turned out:

Well, I hate to admit this, but after Christmas I moved it out of the way and this morning it was still sitting there on a little table in the dining room. We have a lot going on around here (you'll find out more later this week) and I've been meaning to take it apart, remove all the Christmas goodies and make it into a simple shell display. We have a LOT of shells around The Hut and putting them in vases and jars is one of my favorite ways to enjoy part of my collection.

I finally started and finished this project this morning with my morning coffee. Thanks Kendall for helping me get this particular project completed and yes, I did it in my pajamas!


This is the completed look and I must say, I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. The next time you're at the beach and your hubby is asking you what your going to do with all those shells when you get them home — think about something like this. It's a lovely reminder of days spent on the beach, especially during the winter.

I often see people do something like this, but they usually just dump the shells in a vase. When I start mine, I fill the bottom with either sand or crushed shells. Then I line the bottom sides with a few of my favorites. Next I put something larger in the middle to act as a holder of sorts. In this one I used a piece of coral. This way I can "perch" other goodies on it so that I end up with interesting nooks and crannies. You'll find visitors will peer inside to see what is partially hidden from their view.

See what I mean? Your eyes are drawn to those little crannies and it is much more interesting than just dumping in the shells.

In this photo you can see the tips of a couple of other shells that would have been lost had I used the dumping method.

The pieces you add will end up wedging themselves between the coral and the glass and actually be very stable.

I like to top the glass with a something like a shallow bowl to hold a candle. This serves two purposes — I have a unique candle holder and it keeps out the dust and pet hair, very important here at The Hut. You can also top it with just a glass circle cut at your local glass shop. But, be sure to top it with something, these are a pain to keep clean otherwise.

So, that's my project this week, very easy I know, but finally all traces of Christmas have disappeared from The Hut and I can move on to something else. I hope you all enjoyed this project and that it will give you the incentive to do some of yours. When you do be sure to link up with Shop Your House Sunday, I'd love to see the results.

Stop by Kendall's by clicking on the button in this post or in my sidebar to see who else participated this week.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Picnic For Two — Salade Nicoise

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

- Omar Khayyam in his 12th century The Rubaiyat
(as translated by Edward Fitzgerald)

This week I'm having a giveaway at The Hut that got me to thinking about what I would pack for a romantic picnic for two. With Valentine's Day just around the corner and Spring not too far behind, I thought this would be perfect to share with my friends at

(click image to see who else is participating this week)

I would start my romantic picnic upon arrival at my beach destination with a baguette and a cheese such as a Camembert or Brie, along with apple and pear slices and a small bunch of grapes.

Next, we would stroll the beach, hand-in-hand as we wait for the sun to begin its descent upon the horizon. Then let the feast begin!

A Salade Nicoise is wonderful picnic fare!

Salade Nicoise

  • 2 Sushi grade tuna fillets
  • 2–4 red or gold potatoes (depending on size)
  • 1 cup of fresh green beans
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 2 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 8–12 Nicoise olives
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • About 1/4–1/3 cup of your favorite vinaigrette dressing
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • A nice handful of a baby green lettuce mixture (I prefer a spicy blend)


  1. Sear tuna fillets in an olive oil-sprayed pan on medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Slice fillets thinly and set aside to cool.
  2. Boil potatoes for about 15 minutes (until pierced easily with a fork), cool and cut in quarters.
  3. Steam green beans for approximately 3-5 minutes or until they turn bright green; run under cool water. Pat dry with paper towel.
  4. Place potatoes, beans, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, capers, olives, salt & pepper into large bowl and lightly toss with vinaigrette. Pack in a plastic container with lid.
  5. Pack the tuna, eggs, lettuce and extra dressing separately. I have an assortment of tiny plastic ware that works perfectly for this, but you may use zipper-style bags if you don't.
Serves 2.

When your ready to serve, arrange your salad as in the above photo.

Perrier Jouet is my favorite champagne and the sound of a popping cork on the beach is so romantic! Oh and don't forget to pack the candles!

For dessert? Why feeding each other chocolate-covered strawberries would be just heavenly, don't you think? What happens after that depends on you and your loved one.

Do you love picnics as much as I do? I love them with my family, I love them with my friends, I've even taken my dog, Sheldon on picnics and since he's the only man in my life right now, I better forget the champagne and candles and pack some dog biscuits!

It you haven't signed up for my giveaway, be sure to click on the picture below or the button in my sidebar before you leave, so you'll have a chance to pack your own romantic picnic in this:

Happy Foodie Friday dear ones and thank you Michael for hosting such a lovely event once again!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Celebrity Mystery Guest, Sign In Please!

Celebrity Mystery Guest at Shellbelle's Tiki Hut

As some of you know, I just finished another deadline. A deadline that made it impossible for me to do much visiting as I'd like for almost two weeks. Well, deadline is over and I don't have another one for six weeks. Not good on the budget, but good for catching up on what everyone's been up to.

Since I want to get right to that, I decided I would give you a sneak peek on a post I've been working on for a couple of months. You know I've had this obsession with lifeguard stations recently — I want to live in one. Well, research into them led me to photos of vintage lifeguard stations, which in turn, led me to vintage photos of the lifeguards themselves. Now you know I love anything vintage, especially when the subject is anything beachy!

So while I'm off surfing around your blogs today, I offer you this photo from the 1920s as a sneak peak into my Vintage Lifeguard post that will go up next Thursday. Can you guess who it is? He is very famous and trust me when I tell you, you've all heard of him.

If you'd like you can ask questions in the fashion of that old television show, What's My Line? If you're old enough to remember that show, you'll remember that they always ended the show with a celebrity mystery guest. The panelists would be blindfolded and could ask 10 questions of the guest to determine who he or she was. You can learn more about the show on wikipedia here. This little game will run all week or until someone gives the correct answer. If no one gets it right, you'll find the answer next Thursday, unless you ask the right questions and someone figures it out before then. The rules of the game required panelists to ask only questions which could be answered yes or no. I'll be answering any questions in the comment section as we go along. Let's play by the rules, no peeking googling please, this isn't for a prize, this is just for a bit of fun. Have a good time and good luck!

Okay, let's get started — Mystery guest, sign in please! 

Update: The Brilliant Muse (I changed her handle to include brilliant) guessed the correct answer right off the bat! So before you look, make your best guess and put in your comment who you would have guessed. Let's see how many get it right. This has been such fun, I just may do it again!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Giveaways Galore!

I'm buried in work right now with a deadline tomorrow and remembering that saying…the hurrier I go, the behinder I get. Also, two steps forward and one step back comes to mind.

Work these days is feast or famine, mostly famine. I have nothing for weeks on end and then its deadline and everyone wants their stuff at the same time. Long days at the computer (like 16 hours at a stretch) and not doing the fun stuff, like visiting other blogs or researching a new post for my blog.

I do sneak away for a bit and pop in where I can. So what did I find to share with you today? More giveaways! This was perfect, while I can't be with you right now, at least I have goodies to share and can introduce you to a couple of wonderful bloggers.

First, if you haven't signed up for my giveaway yet, be sure to read yesterday's post or click on the button in my sidebar. After you sign up for a chance to be the lucky winner at The Hut, you can surf over to Low Tide High Style and check out all the beachy goodies she's giving away.

Lovin' everything!

Then head on over to Who Moved My Cheese Straw? and look at the fabulous giveaway she's got going on.

An oil bottle from the famous French ceramics company Emile Henry
Oui la la, so pretty!

UPDATE! Another fab giveaway has been found! This one is also sponsored by CSN and is being hosted by the ever lovely KS @ While We're Waiting. Look what she found in their cookware shop:

Le Creuset Stoneware Baking Dishes

The set includes one 10.5 x 7 dish and one 7 x 5 dish AND you get to choose from seven beautiful colors. I chose the Kiwi, because it is so tropical! So, be sure to click on the link to her blog and sign up today.

My deadline is over tomorrow night — very late and then I can get back to doing what I love best on the computer —blogging. So put the coffee on, I'll be there soon. Better yet, whip up some mojitos, its been a tough run. I'll bring the cheesecake!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Giveaway at The Tiki Hut!

Update Wednesday, January 27th: It's time for one of my favorite days of the week! It's now Wednesday, which means its time for

hosted by the lovely Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer

I decided that instead of doing a whole new post and sending everyone back to Monday to enter my fabulous giveaway, I would just link it for my OW offering. After all, it is an outdoorsy gift that will be perfect for my OW friends who love taking pictures for this very special meme and I can't think of anything more appropriate for such outings. PLUS, I posted three pics of places in my neighborhood that I love visiting and of course the first one is the BEACH! So, even if you're not into giveaways, I hope you'll comment on my outdoor photos, especially the one of something my dad help build in 1980!

Ya'll are going to love this!

The good folks from the CSN Promo Team contacted me last week to see if I would be interested in doing a product review or a giveaway from one of their online stores. Did I hear giveaway? I know we all love giveaways! They suggested I might like a mailbox or something from their toys and games, but graciously gave me the freedom to choose from any store that I might fancy.

Well, if you know me at all, you know that before I accepted their offer I had to check them out. I have strict guidelines at The Hut and not just anyone can pass the mustard (hint…hint) around here. The first place I always head to is the Better Business Bureau. For me to even think about an offer such as this, the company must have a BBB Rating of A or A+, I am the same way with any company I become affiliated with and offer their products through my blog. (I turned down another company recently that did not meet my standards.)

CSN Stores, LLC has been in business since January 2002 and they were accredited by BBB in March of 2003. They are an online retail business that owns and operates more than 250 e-commerce stores. The company ships to locations throughout the United States and Canada. The GOOD news faithful followers is that they have a BBB Rating of A+!


Once I found that out, I headed straight over to their stores to find the perfect item for a giveaway. This was not as easy as it sounds. They have so many stores and so many goodies you can get lost for hours and literally Shop 'till You Drop. You can view links to all of their stores here.

You're probably wondering what I ended up choosing for you. I gave you a hint earlier — pass the mustard. Did you figure it out? Well, I ended up in their Tailgating Party Supply Store and you know how much I LOVE picnics, so without further ado, here it is:

Capri Picnic for Two Backpack

This insulated picnic backpack is perfect for the adventurous picnicker blogger. This backpack is lightweight, compact, and very practical. The Capri is outfitted with a detachable insulated wine duffel and all the amenities needed for a picnic for two. The backpack features pockets and compartments for all of its accessories. The large food compartment, featuring state-of-the-art Thermo-Guard insulation, will help keep your picnic hot/cold for hours. Great for picnics, hikes, concerts, and sporting events (AND blogging photo shoots). Just pack it up and go!

Inside you'll find:

  • 2 Melamine plates (9")
  • 2 Polystyrene wine glasses
  • 2 Cotton napkins (13" x 13")
  • 2 each - stainless steel knives, forks and spoons
  • Cotton tablecloth (41" x 44")
  • Salt & pepper shaker set
  • Stainless steel cheese knife with wood handle
  • Hardwood cutting board (6" x 6")
  • Stainless steel waiter-style corkscrew

Now I have to be honest with you, CSN did say I could choose a product for myself and do a review and when I found this backpack, I was tempted to do just that. I could just imagine (thanks to Photoshop) packing up a luscious lunch and heading off to

The Beach
(the beach by my house)

Heritage Village
(my dad helped build this 1894 Williams Park Bandstand reproduction in 1980)

The Woods
(On the Hillsborough River)

But, I came to my senses and knew this was all about you, my dear readers! What do you need to do to be the lucky winner? First, you must live in the United States or Canada, for this is where the company ships.

Entries will be accepted until midnight PST on Saturday, January 30th. The lucky winner will be announced early on Monday, February 1st. Be sure I can find your email address on your profile page or on your blog so I can contact you if you should win. (If you don't have a blog you must leave your email in your comment.) You will have until midnight PST on Wednesday, February 3rd to respond or I will have to choose another winner.

Then for each of these you do, you will be given an additional entry:

  1. Leave a comment and tell me where would be the first place you would go on a picnic and who would you take with you?
  2. Leave another comment and tell me which color you would like your backpack to be (see pic).
  3. Leave another comment and tell me if you are one of my followers or sign up to be a follower if you truly like my blog (serious followers only please).
  4. Leave another comment telling me you blogged about my giveaway or grab my button below and put it in your sidebar — sharing is a good thing.
  5. Bonus Entry — surf over to CSN, take a look at their list of stores and then come back and leave another comment about which of their stores you would like to check out that I haven't already mentioned in this post.

    Link it to:

    Make sure you leave these as separate comments, I will print them out and cut them up to throw into the (sun)hat to choose the winner.

    While your waiting for the BIG announcement you can surf over to CSN and check out some of their stores. I found these lovely items in their Mailbox Store:

    Hummingbird Mailbox

    Cardinal Home Plaque 

    Good luck to all of you and have a beachy week!

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Food and Angels @ The Tiki Hut

    Two things before I get started. First, on Monday I'm announcing a fabulous giveaway that I think everyone will love, especially all you foodies and second, if you're here for Art Work Friday or Friday ~ Finding Beauty, scroll past this recipe and you'll find my entry for this week.(But you may want to check out this recipe while your here!)

    Comment Update: I received a couple of emails and it seems that on my permalinks at the end of my post it says, " #Thoughtful comments. Click here to had yours" the link isn't working. However, at the end of the comments there is a Post Comment link that is working.  Sorry, I'll try and get that figured out.

    Okay, I have a confession — I lied. There I said it. I freely admit that I lied to Libby over at Twirl and Taste. She posted a recipe in December for Kiss Your Mama Chicken and Rice Soup and I commented that I hadn't eaten Velveeta cheese for over 20 years, but that her recipe looked so good I was going to break my No Velveeta Rule to make her soup. Well, I did and it was delicious, but when I was at the store picking up that cheese I had a flashback and remembered that I did have Velveeta more recently than 20 years.

    I haven't made this recipe in years, but it is by far, the BEST Macaroni and Cheese I've ever had. It is decadent comfort food at its finest and while my hips say no, my lips say — seconds please. So today for all my Foodie Friday Friends I offer you Patti LaBelle's

    Over The Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese

    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1 pound elbow macaroni
    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
    • 2 cups half-and-half
    • 1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta , cut into small cubes
    • 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
    • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole.

    Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot.

    In a small saucepan, melt eight tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining one tablespoon of butter.

    Bake until it's bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot and get out your handkerchiefs, because Patti says that the sure sign of a good cook is if their macaroni and cheese will make you cry and honey, this recipe will make you cry!

    I first saw Patti prepare this dish on Good Morning America in 1999. I can easily remember the year because I still have the recipe I printed out that very day. I also have the recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About. This is one of those lip-smackin', mouth-waterin' cookbooks that every Southern cook and those who want to cook down-home Southern-style should own. Recipes include: Black-Eyed Peas with Smoked Turkey Wings, Don't-Block-The-Blessing Dressing, Aunt Hattie's Scrumptious Sweet Tater Bread, Geechee Geechee Ya Ya Gumbo and Child, That's Good Cheap Pot Roast! (Don't you just love the names Southern cooks give to their recipes?)

    If your interested, I have this cookbook and two others by Miss LaBelle in my Tiki Hut Store. A link to my store is in my sidebar, but you can quickly find this cookbook here.

    Be sure to stop by Michael's at Designs By Gollum for more Foodie Friday posts. I don't know about you, but I really can't wait to see what Bandwidth contributed this week!

    Art Work Friday

    This week I was taking pictures around The Hut for an upcoming post on my collection of seashells and when I uploaded them I found this one:

    I almost hit the trash button, but then I thought I would play around with it in Photoshop and after several hours and lots of layers this was the result:

    What do you think? AND be honest please, I can't grow as an artist without constructive feedback.

    My entry for Friday ~ Finding Beauty is related to this altered photo. My son, THE ARTIST, sent me this feedback in an email after I sent these photos to him, "I love it!!! great job... Really think you should do a series of photos with this technique!"

    Now you may think he said this because he's my son, but while he has always been supportive, he always gives me his honest advice. I think this is the first time he didn't tell me to change anything or tell me to try this technique instead. Now I think that is just beautiful and it just did my artist heart good!

    Don't forget to come back on Monday to sign up for my Giveaway!

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Greetings From Florida


    I've been complaining whining about the cold weather in Florida lately and I'm happy to report that although we still aren't back to our typically warm weather, at least I haven't suffered from frostbite lately. We turned off the heater over the weekend, I spent Saturday with my daughter and granddaughter roaming around the flea market in jeans and a t-shirt, the plants I brought inside are now outside again, I was able to take the four extra blankets off my bed and the windows are open during the day. Life is returning to normal, or at least somewhat normal around The Hut.

    To celebrate this return I thought I would share a part of my collection of vintage Florida postcards — The Greetings From series. Most of these are from the Library of Congress, the Florida State Archives, friends, family and some I've found at garage sales, flea markets, and local stores that have shoeboxes full of this stuff. I love going to Dunedin and looking through the little shops there to see what I can find. If I spot something from Florida, California, or Hawaii, it usually finds its way to my home. I even have some from Hawaii that my friend Karen found in the trash at an estate sale. They are very cool, I'll have to share those with you one day.

    So here you go, more Florida postcards than you'll ever need! If you've ever been to any of the place-specific ones let me know in your comment. If you've ever been to Florida and your in the dead of winter and wish you were here, let me know that also.

    Greetings From the Land of Sunshine

    And don't forget,
    I invite you to…

    I hope you're enjoying the weather wherever you are, as for this old beach gal, I'm happy to see the sun shining again!

    I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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    Go to the Beach in Style!