Rose Murex – My First

rose murex

I just had to stop at the Sanibel Causeway to put my toes in the water one last time before I drove back to the east coast. Glad I did. I walked down to the end, closest to Sanibel, and I started to notice a whole bunch of minis in the sand (mini tulips, lightning whelks, wentletraps, augers…). I sat for a moment to dig a bit when this pop of red color appeared. I wasn’t even sure exactly what it was since I’d never found one before, but it’s a Rose Murex! A very deep colored one, too. I love her 🙂

 

Holy Horse Conchs

The Fab Five Horse Conchs

Well, it was an epic day. These five horse conchs are not even thoroughly cleaned yet but look how gorgeous they are! And huge! I was at Gulf Side Park on Sanibel early in the morning, at sunrise, and these EMPTY horse conchs were just waiting for me in the water. It was the perfect low tide (7am) and there was hardly anyone on the beach. I couldn’t even carry them all back. I actually gave one away to two little girls and their parents. That felt good. It’s nice when you can share a gift, and these were definitely a gift!

When I have them all cleaned and shined, I’ll post again, so you can see the difference. I have to tell you, these shells STINK. I have had them soaking in bleach for days (half bleach, half water) and the stench is still in them. There must be pieces of the animal stuck up in there. Jeff from the She Sells Sea Shells store on Periwinkle (he’s an avid shell collector) told me to go put them in an ant pile, so I did. I’ll go get them back from the ants in a week or two. Then, soak them again. And oil ’em up real good with mineral oil. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, go to shell!

Queen Conch With Purple Tips

conch side

This beautiful queen conch was found by my son while diving off Miami. It looked terrible when he found it. I soaked it in a mixture of half bleach/half water for two days. Then, scrubbed it silly. I also took a dental tool to get one of the remaining barnacles off — you can’t even tell. I just love the purple tips!

I’ve heard you are not allowed to keep conchs if they have a conch critter in them or if they have a hole greater than 1/16″ of an inch (that’s how you release the animal, like a vacuum). This one had neither. It sits proudly on my living room shelf!

conch front

Sanibel Shell Show

Golden olive on display at Sanibel Shell Show.
Golden olive creatively displayed at the Sanibel Shell Show.

The 79th Annual Sanibel Shell Show was held March 3, 4 and 5, 2016. This incredible show is put on by the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club. I have attended this event many times over the years and it always leave me in awe.

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There are scientific and artistic divisions that shellers can compete in, and there is also an area for purchasing goods, like books, jewelry, and more.

Water lilly created from angel wing shells.
Water lily created from angel wing shells.

The shells you will see at this show are incredible! If you have never been, you should really try to attend next year.

Huge, dark junonia shell at Sanibel Shell Show.
Beautiful junonia at Sanibel Shell Show.

Plus, in the parking lot, there are vendors selling seashells, food, clothing, gifts and crafts.

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First place winner: Flat scallop, hinged, and gorgeous!

Check out these true tulip egg casings, did you know what they looked like? I know lightning whelk casings, so this was cool to see.

True tulip egg casings.
True tulip egg casings.

 

Enormous true tulip found in the Bahamas.
Enormous true tulip found in the Bahamas.

 

Crown conch found on Sanibel. (Also known as a King's Crown.)
Crown conch found on Sanibel. (Also known as a King’s Crown.)

Aren’t these specimens incredible? I went crazy looking at the displays, I’m sure you will, too! Hope to see you there next year.

Key Largo Must-Eats: The Fish House

Key lime pie from the Fish House in Key Largo.
Key lime pie from the Fish House in Key Largo.

Next time you’re in the Keys, stop in to the Fish House in Key Largo. It’s located at Mile Marker 102 Oceanside (although it’s not on the water). Please don’t let that fact discourage you from dining here — you will miss out on one of the best meals in the Florida Keys.

Pan-sauteed hogfish at The Fish House.
Pan-sauteed hogfish at The Fish House.

The Fish House also happens to be a fish market, so your fish is fresh as fresh can be. While it’s not cheap, it’s not five-star expensive either – but it IS five-star delicious. Their famous dishes are the pan-sauteed fish of the day or Matecumbe style – a topping of shallots, basil, capers, tomatoes, olive oil and lemon juice. So fresh, so good.

Also worthy of trying is their smoked fish chunks (dunk them in mustard sauce) and their unique shrimp bundles (shrimp marinated in honey, garlic and lemon and then wrapped in basil and prosciutto). Cracked conch is the BEST here, too. Not chewy, just ooh ooh good.

Papa Alphabet Cone

papa alphabet cone

Do you see it? I see the word “PAPA” on this alphabet cone. The reason this is so special to me is because I take it as a sign.

We all have highs and lows, and while I was in a low, I went to Sanibel. It always makes me feel better to be there. It’s my happy place on so many levels. While I was walking on the beach, having a private conversation with God about my life, this cone literally rolled up at my feet. I had asked Him for a sign. Or an answer to my prayers. I got this cone.

Call me what you want, but this was my sign to be strong. We are not alone in this world, even if you feel alone, you are not! You have guardian angels watching over you all the time.

If I could carry this alphabet cone in my pocket at all times, I would, but I’m afraid I’d lose it. So, it rests on a stand in my living room. I pass by it several times a day, and each time I do, it reminds me to be strong and stay steady.

 

 

I Found A Kitten Paw – Sort Of

Maine Coon kitten found on the side of the road.
Maine Coon kitten found on the side of the road.

Well, it’s not a seashell, but look what I found on the side of US 27 today! We were in the middle of nowhere, driving home from a campus visit to Florida Gulf Coast University, when I spotted something moving right by the white line of the highway. I thought it was a turtle. Amazing that I saw him at all since we were traveling in the car going about 60 mph.

I slammed on the brakes, ran back and scooped him up! He was totally covered in those prickly burrs, I could barely touch him. Plus, he really didn’t want to be held. I don’t think he’d had much human contact. I got a beach towel from the back of my car and my cooler bag, wrapped him up and put him inside.

Maine Coon kitten, cute as can be.
Maine Coon kitten, cute as can be.

Once home, I was able to start picking the burrs off and give him a brushing. I also called our vet and we’re going there in a few hours (even on a Sunday)! Thank you Knowles Snapper Creek Animal Hospital.

I wasn’t even sure it was a kitten at first, I wondered if it was a bobcat or something! (Seriously, we were in the middle of the Everglades and his paws are SO big and his whiskers are SO long.)

Anyhow, meet Max! Our newest family member. Daddy isn’t happy :-0

Anne’s Beach Gave Up Some Beauties

Tulip found at Anne's Beach.
Tulip found at Anne’s Beach.

I got to enjoy a quick visit to Anne’s Beach today in Lower Matecumbe and I found a few beauties. Unfortunately, the one above had a crab in it. (Although in the Keys, you can keep live shells [except conch] if you have a saltwater offshore fishing license.) I put him back 🙂

Banded tulip at Anne's Beach.
Banded tulip at Anne’s Beach.

This fat little banded tulip was empty though! I got to take him home.  Anne’s Beach is great at low tide, but at high tide, it’s near impossible to get in the water and search. I can always find shells over by the mangroves.

The mangroves at Anne's Beach in the Florida Keys.
The mangroves at Anne’s Beach in the Florida Keys.

Anne’s Beach does have picnic tables and bathroom facilities. You will also find two parking areas about 1/4 mile apart.

Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada

Your day is made in the shade at Amara Cay.

Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada is a new favorite. It opened this summer (2015) at the site of the former Hampton Inn (and Outback Steakhouse) at Mile Marker 80. For those of you who grew up in the Keys like I did, this was also formerly the site of Ocean 80. Now that you know where it is, let me tell you what they offer.

Interior of lobby at Amara Cay.

The lobby is cool – ultra cool. They have these swing chairs that make it fun to wait for someone. And the restaurant in the lobby, OltreMare, offers Italian seafood in a comfortable setting. They make their own pasta every day! The fettuccine is so creamy and the presentation will make you go, “Oooooh!” I also had fresh cobia (chef’s special that day) and I think it’s the best I’ve ever had. Meatball appetizer also fantastic. It’s one dinner that’s worth the money.

Interior of an oceanfront room at Amara Cay.

Their rooms have been redone in a simplistic, modern-chic design. The rooms reminded me of a bachelor pad, in a very good way. Clean walls with little artwork, couch, big TV, a wine chiller and bar area, comfy beds and a good bathroom. I lucked into an ocean view room and it was spectacular.

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Here is a photo of the pool deck. There is a full bar outside here to the right so you can overlook the pool or the Atlantic.

Pool deck on the ocean at Amara Cay.

You can rent kayaks or go diving with their onsite dive center, Sea Monkeys. Great way to go explore for seashells 🙂

Kayaking from Sea Monkeys Dive Center at Amara Cay.