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.


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.

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.

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.



Sunrise at the Lighthouse

Sunrise at the Sanibel Lighthouse.
Sunrise at the Sanibel Lighthouse.

You’ve got to get up awfully early if you want to be the first one on the beach. The sun wasn’t even up and look at the people wading in the water at the Sanibel Lighthouse!

It’s always worth waking up for if only for the view, but the shells are nice, too.

whelk and olive

Whelk and olive  – both were empty!

True tulip and more
True tulip and more

Shelling in Key West


sea urchin

I’ve never had luck shelling in Key West. The beaches are not what people think in the Keys (they are crushed coral so the ‘sand’ feels like rough like cat litter). Most seashells break up over the reef before making it to shore, although there are definitely exceptions. To shell in the Keys, you really need to get in the water and snorkel.

Anyhow, I was staying at the Sunset Key Cottages and went for a beach walk on their private beach each evening. I found my first keeper – a green sea urchin (empty of course). Kinda cool! I love its color and it actually made it home with me, unbroken.

If you’re looking for luxury accommodations in Key West, Sunset Key Cottages are fantastic. It’s a private island right off Mallory Square and the only way you can get there is by ferry, but you must be staying there or dining at their restaurant. Worth it.


Blogging for ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva


Hey Shellers,

I have some cool news to tell you about. I’ve been asked to be a blogger for ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island. This is right up my alley as I formerly worked for VISIT FLORIDA as their family travel expert and I currently write for Fodor’s Travel as well.

You can find my monthly blog at their website: Scroll down their homepage till you see the where it says “INSIDERS.”

I’ll be writing about all the things you can do at ‘Tween Waters Inn with your family, and around the island. Whether you’re staying onsite or not, their onsite restaurants are worth paying a visit. My kids love the crab races that take place Mondays and Thursdays at the Crow’s Nest. Maybe we’ll see you there!