Winter Whelk Wonderland

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Last spring I thought of the brilliant idea to "decorate" my garden by lining the outside of it with conchs.  Not that brilliant when you start thinking about what kind of animals will build their homes in them.  After all, that is exactly what a conch is, a home produced and inhabited by the aquatic animal living inside it.  That is until for whatever reason it leaves or dies and the lovely empty home washes on shore.

I finally did the deed of removing them from the garden, and rinsing them all off.  I let them sit out for a while thinking that it may take more time for all the new critters to leave.  And, then it iced and snowed.  On my conchs.  Which actually ended up being great because I got this fantastic picture of my babies in the snow.  (Conch's are resilient amazing shells, and a storm like this is nothing to them).

Winter Whelk Wonderland

I will not put my beautiful whelks in the ground ever again.  Promise.

Maybe because of this small task, I was inspired in the freezing cold to check out the beach the past couple of days.  Low and behold, more whelks were waiting for me on the beach.

Kiener Whelk

Kiener Whelks

Kiener Whelk

Kiener Whelk

I love these whelks.  I love how heavy and structured their spines are.  Initially, and I suppose all my life up until now, I thought they were all Knobbed Whelks.  But after some research, I have come to the conclusion that these are in fact Kiener Whelks.  But, very similar to the Knobbed Whelk.  I have been going through all my whelks trying to figure out the difference since, and it's not easy.  I searched Google trying to find a definitive difference between the two, and all I could find was that the lower part of the body whorl is thicker on the Kiener Whelk than on the Knobbed Whelk.  Well, most of my whelks body whorls are a little chipped there, so not the best indicator.  As I studied my whelk collection, it became obvious that across the board, the Kiener Whelk is a much heavier shell, and the spines are thick and highly structured.  The spines on the Knobbed Whelk are smaller and more worn.  Even though it may not be easy to figure out if your whelk is a Kiener or a Knobbed, it sure is fun to try.

With that said, I thought I would post a handful of pictures of the different types of whelks I have on hand, so you may also get to know the differences.

The biggest difference in all the whelks occurs with the Lightning  Whelk.  Lightning Whelks are the only whelk whose aperture is on the left.  How cool is that?!

Lightning Whelk

Knobbed Whelk
Kiener Whelk

Channeled Whelk

Pear Whelk
That was enough schooling for me today.  Happy hunting out there, and stay warm!


I left my phone in Captiva

Monday, January 27, 2014

I left my heart phone in Captiva.  I'm getting married in March, and for my bachelorette I chose to go to Captiva Island in Florida.  I have always wanted to go to Sanibel and Captiva (Sanibel is the island just south of Captiva) for the shelling.  It did not disappoint.  What did disappoint - my phone was stolen the second night there.  Unfortunately, that meant I wasn't able to photograph the majority of my shells as I found them, which is one of my favorite things to do.  So, I instead set up a photo shoot of my Captiva finds by filling a Pyrex dish with sand, and shooting them in my kitchen.
Ravenel Scallops, and one of my favorite shells to find in Florida.

Sea Urchin - looks similar to those I find in NC and SC, but the spines are shorter.


Murex, Turban, and Scallop; there are loads of scallops in Florida. Scotch Bonnet's should be happy since they feed on them.


My cousins lovely Tulip find.

Paper Fig, and slightly broken, but I brought him home regardless.


Florida Fighting Conchs

Florida Fighting Conch (I did manage to get a few location photos before the phone was stolen).

Day 1, five minutes of shelling, and found all these gems.


Captiva Sand Dollar

Calico Clams


Gorgeous Lightning Whelks

I can't wait to go back.  Maybe by myself, so I can shell the entire time.  I think I'll want to explore Sanibel more also.  Here is one final picture of me shelling Blind Pass Sanibel.  You have never seen so many shells.

Cheers and Happy Shelling!

It feels so good...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It feels so good to find shells again.  I, by no means think that it feels good outside.  I hate cold weather.  I hate winter.  The only exception to winter are the treasures that the winter storms bring.  Shelling can be the best this time of year, you just have to make sure you have the appropriate gear.  The only other thing I like about shelling this time of year, is the unexpected wind burn.  I love that feeling of bringing not only shells back, but a sign on my nose that I've enjoyed the outdoors.

I find that layering is the best for these cold temperatures.  I have on two down Patagonia jackets, and two scarves.

Here are a few more of my favorites for keeping warm as you hunt and gather this winter.

An obvious Patagonia lover, this hat is my favorite and only $35.

Wool socks are essential as they continue to warm even if wet.  Smartwool makes the best!

Patagonia Pullover - I don't own this but I want to.

Hunter Boots - I have these in hunter green.  I'm sure the salt water isn't good for them, but mine still get the job done.
So, after bundling up and hitting the beach, I found some fantastic treasures.  Here are a handful of my favorites:

My first Ocean Drive (OD) Sand Dollar.  When I stumbled upon it I gasped.  It was such a fun find!

OD Channeled Whelk

OD Lightning Whelk

OD Sea Urchin.  I spoke to it when I found him.
Tiny treasures up at the high tide line.

I think this is a brown banded wentletrap.
It feels so good to find shells in January.  And, gives me the hope that I will make it through another winter.


2014 - What treasures will this year bring?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year fellow hunters and gatherers.  You may have wondered where I have been these past two months.  Most of you know that I started my own design company a couple years ago.  (Has it really been that long - yes, it has.  I think I started I guess thinking about 2 years ago in January).  And, currently, I am the only employee which includes but is not limited to the following tasks:
  • Creative Director (my favorite one which is why I put it first)
  • CEO (whatever that means)
  • Founder (company still isn't incorporated, but my accountant doesn't seem to be worried, so neither am I)
  • Marketing Director
  • Social Media Director
  • Sewing Slave (I don't pay myself for sewing even though I spend most of time doing it)
  • Sweatshop Employee
  • Cutter
  • Sewer (ha! That can't be how you spell that)
  • Shipping Director
  • Customer Service Director (this doesn't mean that I am always kind, especially to banks)
  • Tech Director
  • Website Director
  • E-Commerce Director
Okay, I am going to stop there.  I'm not trying to complain, just thought it may explain why I haven't been on the beach in 2 months.  The weather also has something to do with that.  I hate cold weather.  I'm cold in 80 degree weather.  But, the weather in addition to all the cutting and sewing, kept me indoors.

Here is just a sample of the fabric I worked on this season:

They are beautiful.

Mary Lee (Great White Shark) Blanket Fabric

Starfish Cotton Voile Scarf
Crab Cotton Voile Fabric

Packing up an order for delivery.

Old Fabric Swatches

Horsehoe Crab Fabric

New stamps that arrived two days after Christmas.

Folding scarves to ship to Texas.

Packing up for delivery.

Custom blanket for sweet friend in Raleigh.

My favorite recipient of a scarf this season.  Sorry, Mimi wins every time!
Isn't my Mimi the cutest thing you've ever seen?  I gave her the Scotch Bonnet Silk Scarf for Christmas, which is North Carolina's State Shell.  She loved it.  Not as much as I love her because that's impossible.  :)

It was a very successful season.  But, I will not be a one woman sweat shop ever again.  Help is on the way, along with very exciting things this year.  I'm getting married in March, and before that I am going shelling on Captiva Island with some of my best friends.  Yes, that what a hunter and gatherer does for her bachelorette; she plans a shelling trip.  I can't wait to share the treasures we find!

I hope you all have the Happiest Year ever filled with many blessings!


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