What to do with 30lbs of shells?

I love shells, but a lot of times when ever I see shell art or things that are done with all shells they tend to get gaudy, fast. While on vacation, in shellers paradise I might add, I thought to myself, yeah these are pretty but what am I really going to do with these things once I bring them home, thats not tacky, or too beachy. I live in Chicago, my furniture is of the dark variety, it doesn't lend itself to the "beachy" theme.

So my plan was to bring shells that I can group into categories and display somehow in a clean way. This is what I came up with, let me know if anyone has any other suggestions because literally I have about 10 more lbs. of different shells.

My first grouping was a plethora of pink shells that I put around my snake plant in a white ikea planter. They seem to contrast nicely with the variegated green spikes and the white geometric planter. I also added the white shells to a dark planter that my ficus is in, I won't show that one since the planter is not to my liking and am currently searching for something more modern. I'll keep you posted once I find something else.

The other thing that I put together was a bunch of these pearlescent shells, almost capiz like but they aren't capiz and grouped them with a few of the white shells in a round short vase. On top was one of the air plants that I grabbed off of a tree that grew all over the area. I checked, I wasn't stealing, I was actually, come to think of it, propagating. 

These air plants grew in clusters all over trees, and they would attach themselves to the trunk and just grow all over. There were a couple of the larger bromeliads on the tree that I think these spawned from.  You can't see on this pic but they have these tentacles that grow and at the ends are seed pods that when the wind blows it carries and "seeds" itself on a different part of the tree.  

I wish I grabbed more but I wasn't too sure if I would have a hard time bringing these babies home. I was able to wet a paper towel and stick them into a plastic baggie filled with air. Wouldn't you know it, they survived the trip home and are doing pretty well. Every few days I just mist them with some water and a bit of fertilizer.

My biggest coup from the trip was a bunch of barnacles, that I thought I might display on my media stand between the stand and the top shelf that the plasma rests on. I don't know what I was thinking, I thought the space was much bigger than it actually was.  When I brought the two barnacles home, they wouldn't fit in the space so I had to figure an alternative. 

Oh and that beauty sitting next to it is a FARM raised coral from Indonesia, that I purchased in Florida. I have been looking to buy some coral for a long time but they all are very fragile and the bigger they get the more unlikely a place will ship. Most of the ones that I looked at before are pickup only.  I know the coral was farm raised, they were too perfect to be something that was found in the ocean, and I paid about the same amount I would have paid for synthetic coral i.e. plaster. Anywho, the barnacle, those things I was told are a nuisance and grow on most anything. I know this to be true since a ton of shells that I picked up from the beach had tiny clusters of barnacles already forming (you can actually see a barnacle growing on the seashell picture of the potted snake plant).

So for now these specimens are on my console table, hopefully curious little fingers won't go trolling while my back is turned. If you notice I have a clear plastic stand to prop the coral on and the barnacles have these felt stickers on them, both of these are really sharp and will scratch up the wood mighty easily.  

As for whats on the media stand between the shelves, well that's a work in progress yet again. I'm hoping to fill it with some objects that are bright that will stand out amongst all that dark wood. Back to the drawing board for now.


Garden Peonies

One of my favorite flowers has bloomed at the perfect time. One. Being that I'm actually home to witness it. And two. The stormy weather has passed and they are intact.

So what do I do to them, cut them down of course. They smell too heavenly to pass up. Even with the ants and spiders that come as a package deal.

I love my perennials, I take the plunge one year and than every year after I have a bounty of flowers. I missed my lilly of the valley blooming this year but the leaves are still there and I can always put those in a vase for some life. Can't go wrong with free flowers.


Naples Florida

One of the days we decided to take a day trip to Naples Florida, its kinda like Naples Italy. In the architecture, that is. Naples is so different from Sanibel, it's fancier first of all. On Sanibel no one dresses up hardly anyone wears makeup, they are a shorts and flip-flops culture. Very laid back. Not saying that Naples isn't laid back. Naples is a little more upper crust, with the boutiques lining 5th ave and the mercedes filling the bulk of the restaurant valets. You get what I mean.

Don't get me wrong, its beautiful and picturesque, with a mix of residential and commercial blending in flawlessly among the flowering trees and palms dotting the avenue. Its more of a destination where people go to be seen instead of throwing on a pair of cutoffs and flip-flops and riding to the beach on your bike.

We walked around to a couple of galleries and boutiques but most everything that I liked was way more than I would ever spend on it.

The restaurants though had great deals on a early bird dinner/lunch, anytime before 6 you can get TWO meals AND a bottle of wine for $20.00 That's Cheap!

We didn't partake of that menu but we did have the best sushi lunch I have probably had EVER!

Sushi Thai Too is on the corner of 5th Ave and if your ever in the area and like sushi, don't pass this place up. We ordered a sushi/sashimi boat with a couple of add-ons and the pieces of sashimi were super thick and duper fresh. I swear they had to be at least a .5" thick. It was the best lunch, everyone came away so satisfied and full that I we skipped dinner that night. 

Yeah go on, I'll wait while you wipe your drool. 

We left Naples pretty late to try and hit up Marco Island, but we weren't able to walk around like we did in Naples. Everything is private property so if your not staying on Marco Island, there really isn't any point in going. Granted the sand on Marco Island is probably the finest sand I have ever felt, it really felt like I was standing in a bag of flour. We were tired and glad to be going back to Sanibel. 

EXCEPT... we had to make a detour and find a Checkers. My sister made us drive around and try and find a Checkers burger joint, but to no avail, we did't find the one that google maps said was there. I get why she was craving it, they used to be all over Chicago but were slowly closed off, probably that they only had drive through or outside seating, and in Chicago we kinda need the indoor concept. You know we're not called the windy city for nothin'. We were all compensated with a Five Guys Burger. Not Checkers but they'll do.


Sanibel Island Vacation

Sorry I've been missing for a bit but we took a 10 day vacation to Florida's Sanibel Island. We had the most amazing time and it was Ari's first time on a plane.  Unfortunately my husband couldn't make it with us this time but the rest of the extended family and family friends were able to join us through-out our stay.

And I can't say we picked a better time to go, since it was cold (heat on) and rainy back in Chicago, and when we came back, we brought the sunshine with us.

Of course my daughter was ready to get to the beach.

But as soon as she got there she wanted to strip her clothes off, I was able to have her not take her shorts off, not that I care its just more crap for mommy to carry around.

This turtle was grazing on the grounds between the condo and the beach and I caught a pic of him coming out from under the walkway back to his hidey hole. May is the start of turtle hatching season, so who knows if there were more nearby just preparing to hatch.

I so love palm trees, I wish we were in zone 8 instead of 5  :(

Of course how can I not show you some of the lush succulents growing on the beach. These plants actually help the sand stay put, by growing a web of roots that help when a large storm comes.

This was a common action, I don't know why I even bothered to dress her most days. She also never got bit by the terrible no-see-ums, unlike her mother and most everyone else that got bitten alive. Maybe that Filipino blood is adept to tropical bugs?

...to paradise in the continental USA. 

I have to say that I have never been to Florida before but have been to the tropics plenty of times, I will definitely come back to Sanibel again. It was a beautiful, laid-back and wonderful vacation. The beach is littered, in some places up to 6" high, with seashells. And when they talk about the Sanibel stoop, you get it, after a few days we all experienced a sunburn on our back. You can't help it, newcomers come to the island and want to pick up practically every seashell, we did, but people who have been to Sanibel before only take away the special shells. 

We brought a couple of those shells back, at the time I had no clue what I would do with them, but I think I have a couple of ideas, you'll see!

We spent most of our time on Sanibel but took a few day trips to Ft. Myers beach, Naples and Marco Island. those are in the next post. 

Now that I'm back it's time to get serious about our front yard landscaping. 


New strap - on my camera

Oh get your mind out of the gutter. I ordered a new strap for my nikon cuz I'm hating the way the NIKON shows all bright on the original strap. It's not that I don't want to show that its nikon but I would like to keep it a little low key from people perusing something to take. Ya know.

So I was looking online for some camera straps and there is a plethora that come up, esp through etsy. I didn't want to to with a bright custom strap, not that anything is wrong with that, it's just another way of being loud and saying look at my camera.

I initially wanted one of the old camera straps that you used to be able to get back in the 70's I know my grandfather had a strap like that on his old zenith, this is one that I found but it was a one of a kind.

I also found a few that were leather, and very snazzy. I liked them a lot and the price wasn't bad, they just had something missing. They were all neck straps.

Nice huh?  Yeah I thought so too, except having a neck strap now is not optimal for me. I like to carry my camera on my shoulder or across my torso but with these type of straps your limited to how long you can make them. Doesn't work so well if you're like me and want to pull it across your body at anytime to take photographs and then swing it back.

I have found the solution to this problem, Gordyscamerastrap.com. I chose a sling with a screw tripod connector, and I got an additional lug mount wrist strap with a wrist pad. I can't wait to try this sucker out on a longer day of shooting. I figure that I can detach the body sling easily and just keep the wrist strap on all the time on the nikon d40x. 

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