Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shelling on Sanibel Island

Do you remember as a child when you looked up at the sky it exploded with stars? The moon was so bright, you felt as though you could reach out and pluck it from the darkness? If you live out in the desert or in the country, you probably still experience this natural occurrence, but if you live in a large town or city, the sheer beauty of the night sky has probably been lost. That is unless you live in a town like Sanibel, Florida, where they take light pollution seriously.

According to the New Rules Project website, "Many of Florida's oceanfront communities have adopted lighting codes to protect the nesting sea turtles along beaches. Sea turtle hatchlings instinctively head toward light. Before electric lighting, bioluminescence and the reflection of the moon on the water made the ocean brighter than the land. But due to light pollution, hatchlings often head inland. The strict limits on street lighting on Sanibel Island aim to remedy the imbalance between the unnatural brightness of the shoreline and the natural bioluminescence of the sea."

The turtles are not the only ones reaping the rewards of these strict limits. On our recent trip to Sanibel Island, Kaybe and I had a plan that we would do a little night shelling during the low tide. We watched the sunset on one beach…

and then returned to our little cottage and headed down the path to the beach in the pitch dark. Kaybe's flashlight and my headlamp lighted our way…

Please note that this was the beach we stayed at and we knew there were no turtle nests in the area, otherwise we would not have been there with our lights.

One look up and you knew you were in the right place at the right time, the night sky was brilliant with stars and when we reached the water, the moonlight made a path to the sea…

Sorry for the shakiness of the moon, I didn't take my tripod with me. I was loaded down with my new shell shovel that Kaybe gave me when I got to her house and my shell bag.

So how did our night shelling expedition go, you ask? While we didn't find that many shells, we were well-rewarded with the sheer joy of being on the beach, away from the neon lights and noise you encounter on most beaches in Florida. Oh my dears, it was fantastic!

While nighttime, didn't reward us with a full bucket of shells, the daylight hours did!

Here's my haul from the first day…

And here's my haul from the second day…

Oh yeah, these beauties are going to clean up just fine.

I took these next two photos after I got home. They are of some of the minis I found.

Just look how tiny these five Horse Conchs are! I don't know how I spotted the one on the left, but I did!

The third day we were leaving the island and stopped on the causeway where I found these shell rocks. I just love these; they are formed when sediment from the ocean bottom and bits of shells bind together. Aren't they cool?

 I really love this one, with the imprint of a scallop shell clearly visible.

I found this as I was overturning some of those algae-covered rocks and shells you see in the background in this next photo…

It was here on the causeway that I finally found what I was searching for — a large piece of Horse Conch. I've written about these before, I consider them to be sculptures from the sea and this one will look gorgeous next to my black and white one you can see below if you missed it the first time.

Here's a couple of shots Kaybe took of me…

This stance has been dubbed the

Sanibel Stoop

and it is how you can tell the difference between the shellers and the sun-worshippers…

Here I am with my shell bag and

my new shell shovel

thanks again Kaybe!

This is what we see when we look down…

Click on this image to see it larger and you can pretend you were right there with us! Maybe next time, yes?

We shelled, shopped and ate for three days. When we started out, my brain looked like this…

By the time we left, it looked more like this…

My  brain on shells!

That's if for today, I have one more post to share with you about our Sanibel Adventure — The Shopping! I know you're all sittin' on the edge of your computer chairs waiting to hear why one shop proprietor was not happy to see us. Stay tuned…

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday Deals from Shellbelle!

Did you know that I sell my designs on all kinds of products at Zazzle? AND, that I sell them internationally with local shipping rates to your country? Well my friends, I do! Thanks to the folks at Zazzle, I can offer U.S. residents some great Black Friday deals for the

next FIVE days!

Blitzen is the fastest reindeer on this side of the North Pole! To kick off your holiday shopping, he’s got five whole days of crazy deals. Starting at 

midnight on Black Friday

get exclusive Zazzle deals for only two hours at a time. Just set your alarms for your favorite deals and get the biggest savings of the year. Order custom gifts for the holidays,
or stock on up your favorite designs for up to 75% off. 

Just look at these bargains!

I hope you’re ready for a shopping marathon because Blitzen deals will keep coming all day long

until Tuesday –
that’s 120 hours of back-to-back deals!

Avoid the crowds and the cold this year, and get all of your holiday gifts online at Zazzle.

Here's a link to my store: 

What will you find? All kinds of goodies, but what has proven to very popular this year is my

Yep, I've sold 30 of these as of last night! I'm so excited!

You can customize this binder with your family photo and name!

Collecting favorite family recipes is not only fun, your children and future generations will love it! This generous 2-inch binder has lots of room for new additions for years to come. Be sure to include photos and stories along with recipes on your pages and this will truly become a treasured family heirloom!

Set your alarm for an early bird special between 2:01am and 4:00am and

SAVE $10

making this custom cookbook binder only $11.95!

Take a look around, but feel free to leave my store and see what others are offering! There are some great designs on Zazzle; here's my favorite Christmas card someone else created:

You can personalize this with your own photo and I know ya'll have some great photos! If you order them between 6:01am and 8:00am you'll save 70%, which makes this particular card about 98 cents a piece. Very cool!

Like I said, my Zazzle Store "Art of the Siren" is international. Yes, even those of you farthest away can shop with me. Now ya'll don't have Black Friday like we do here in the States, but if you check out the banner on top you'll find discount codes for your country. Click on any of the links below to shop where you live! Very cool, huh?

International Store Links

New Zealand,   Japan,   France,   Spain,   Austria

That's it for now my dears, I'm off to get ready for our Thanksgiving celebration. We're taking the easy way out since there are only four of this year and we're going out to eat. No cooking, no baking and NO dishes!

Before I go, I want to tell you that I am thankful for all of you! You've seen me through some tough times this year and I'd be lost without your friendship and support. I am also thankful that my nephew will be home from Iraq by the end of the month, just in time for his son's 1st birthday! 

Welcome Home David!

My thoughts are with all of our military and their families;
I wish you all a safe journey home and thank you for your service.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dining on Sanibel Island

I know I still need to share with you all the seashells we found while on Sanibel Island and tell you about our night shelling adventure, but since it's Friday, and we all love talking about food on Fridays, I thought I would show you where we ate while there.

Karen and I stayed in a little (with the emphasis on little) cottage on the beach that had a fully-equipped kitchen. We had planned on eating all of our meals there and had stocked up on groceries for this reason. While driving around visiting some of the local proprietors, I spotted the cutest place and it was PACKED! I commented that the food must be good since it was the only place I saw that had folks waiting for their noonday meal.

Later, Chris at the T-Shirt Hut, more on him next week, informed us that the food was excellent, so we decided to stop in for a bite to eat. 

We LOVED The Island Cow!

Since our timing was somewhere between lunch and dinner, we were seated right away, choosing to sit on the outside patio. Although our mornings and evenings were on the chilly side by Florida standards, the afternoons were glorious — not hot and humid, but just perfect.

The curb appeal of  The Island Cow is so inviting. Just look at how bright and cheery their choice of colors is…

2163 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, FL 33957   |   Ph: 239.472.0606   |   www.SanibelIslandCow.com

Let me give you a closer look at those adorable Adirondack chairs…

Aren't they the cutest?

Now I hope your gettin' hungry, because look at what we had for supper…

 Grouper and Shrimp Tacos!

Mouth-waterin' good!

They were served with these sauces…

and they were excellent, but Karen commented that they should also have a fruit salsa and I couldn't help but think of that fresh Pineapple Mango Salsa I made a few months ago for my Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail — it would have been even more delicious!

Now, I'm not complaining, because my taste buds were doing the happy dance and our experience at The Island Cow rates 5 Tikis on Shellbelle's Tiki Hut scale!

The staff was welcoming and friendly. The service was exemplary (and you must know that Karen and I were both in the restaurant business for many years). The atmosphere was wonderful and the menu is extensive. They have something for everyone's taste and you'd be hard pressed to go there with a party of twenty and not have each guest not find something to their liking. The Island Cow serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and they offer fish, seafood, steaks, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, meatloaf, duck, BBQ, quesadillas. gator, gumbo, and much more! 

One of my complaints with many of the touristy restaurants in Florida is that when you order fish, the server typically asks, "Do you want that fried, grilled or blackened."

Ho hum, so boring!

Well, take a peek at The Island Cow's choices:

You can find their complete menu here.

Plus, you just know that The Hut loves a cow dressed in a grass skirt and sporting a lei!

The Island Cow alone is worth the drive to Sanibel, but with it you get the best shelling spot in the United States. Oh yea, I was in paradise! This chair says it best…

Well, I've been talking about it all week and you can believe me when I tell you, that I'll still be talking about next week! Stay tuned — I have seashells, thrifty finds, The T-Shirt Hut and a story about one Sanibel proprietor who wasn't too pleased that Karen and I were in his store! Until then, have a wonderful weekend and remember that…

I "shore" do love ya'll!

Disclaimer: Shellbelle's Tiki Hut was not compensated in any way for this review.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sanibel Island Surfside

As most of you know, I spent part of last week on Sanibel Island. I know, it's a tough life, but somebody has to live it! The first morning there I had the pleasure of meeting up with three, yes three, other bloggers! 

From left to right we have

Debbie of

Pam of

Karen of

and, of course, myself! Click on any of these headers to visit their beachy blogs.

You can tell by our outerwear that the day started off a bit chilly, but we were a determined group and proceeded to hike down the shoreline to a prime shelling area. From the first photo you can see that the day did warm up — Karen was down to shorts and I had abandoned my cap and sweater.

Everything didn't go as planned on my part. I never talk about it, but I have a condition in my feet that, while I have made great strides, limits me to how fast and for how long I can go. I spent a couple of years basically homebound and another couple of years in an electric scooter. To make matters worse, I slipped in the sandy mud and really did a bit of damage. Excruciating pain slowed me down, but I carried on as best I could in pursuit of a few treasures from the sea to share with you. Later this week, I'll share with you the seashells I collected and a few great places Karen and I visited, but for today I'll show you some of the things we saw as we walked the sea line.

Lightning Whelks are one of my favorite shells to collect and when I spotted this fine specimen I was really excited. When I flipped it over, I was even more excited to see it was a live specimen, so I carefully flipped it back and left it to breed future generations.…

Other living specimens spotted were…


Sand Dollars

Sea Urchins

Baby Octopus
(Debbie spotted this little guy first, he was stranded with the low tide,
so I gently carried him back down to the water.)

Fighting Conchs by the thousands!
(They were still alive, but lethargic. Scientists still don't know what caused this phenomenon,
but my hope is that they will survive and get back to water where they belong.)

(We saw lots of soft-bodied creatures and I have no idea what they are,
but the one on the left looks like a martini olive to me.)

Pen Shell
(These are very common and while not a particularly pretty shell, if you look inside you'll see lots of
things going on. This one had another baby octopus curled up to the right,
some mini shells and lots of barnacles.)

(Just feet away from us! I found out later from a local that the trough that runs offshore is the perfect place for dolphins to teach their young to hunt. Cool!)

Grocery Bag
(I HATE seeing this! This bag has been in the water for so long that barnacles have made it home.
Think of all the baby turtles, fighting for their lives in a tough environment and some inconsiderate
beach goer has added to their struggle to survive.)

Leave Only Footprints, please.

My Shoes
(Yep, I love this sight, it means I'm wandering the beach with the sand between my toes!)

Sometimes the sea and the stars line up perfectly and you get a chance to meet fellow bloggers who share the same passion as yourself. Thank you to Pam and Debbie for meeting up with Karen and I for a day at the beach. Hopefully, next time I'll be on more "solid" ground and we'll get a chance to talk and share, you are both such lovely, interesting women. You both rock shell!

Speaking of the sea and stars lining up, I am SO excited to announce the winner of my giveaway!

Drum roll, please…

Today 13 is indeed a lucky number for Jane of Artfully Graced! I had the pleasure to meet Jane in August and she is a DOLL! I hope she enjoys this $75 shopping spree at CSN Stores. Woo Hoo!

That's it for today folks, come back this week, I have a few little surprises for some of my blogging friends and another giveaway!
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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