Friday, August 26, 2011

Hoping my Cottage holds fast.

A mandatory evacuation of New York buroughs that are low lying is a bit scary. First time in N.Y. history. In New Jersey all of Cape May county has been evacuated. These aren't suggestions they are mandatory which means if you stay you are breaking the law. You may not get help if you need it. I am glad I went down to my Jersey shore cottage yesterday to secure lawn furniture and close things tight.
As the sun shone and the skies darkened

 I wish I would have done more. Like boarded it up. It became a mandatory evac while I was locking things down, so I secured what I could and left. A one and a half hr trip home took 3 1/2 hrs. Lots of people leaving. There is only one gas station in North Wildwood on the way out and it had at least 75 cars in line. and a police presence. I was lucky, had a full tank.

I'm worried about my little cottage down the shore and really hope this hurricane will lose some of it's strength. They are saying it may be the worst in 50 years to hit the northeast. Gee we just had an earthquake the other day. what the heck is going on?

This is a vintage picture of the area where my seaside cottage is, back in the early part of this century.
The large garage type structure in the foreground is the Coast Guard  building. Behind it you will see a few cottages. Mine is the fourth one in. The first 3 cottages you see, all were destroyed in the Nor'Easter that hit in  March, 1962 .
North Wildwood, NJ

My cottage held fast. the 3 next to it ocean side, were totally destroyed and fell victim to the great Nor'easter

  • The 2 story white shed you see below is still there. It is behind my cottage today.
  • After those 3 homes were extremely damaged and torn down there were empty lots till the 80's

Picture after 1962 hurricane

Below is the same area yesterday, taken from an area over on the right side of this picture.

 There is a park in this area now, and 3 new big homes. That 2 story shed that survived the 62 storm? It's an effieceincy now in pink , with a deck and patio! See it in bottom right of pic below.
 There is just a peek of my little cottage behind the white house with red trim here.

A closer look. My neighbors taped their windows. My cottage is tiny, maybe the big houses will protect it! Recognize my sunroom? I hope she holds.

A lone police car. And the Coast Guard building from a different angle

I just heard that the Atlantic City casinos are shutting down tomorrow. Wow. that's a biggy.
Here's hoping my cottage holds fast.
In 62 the whole Jersey coast was hit pretty bad.
Below is a picture of Sea Isle after the storm.

So let's all send up some prayers, for the entire Eastern seaboard.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Picky's thrifty finds while Pickier was lazing away in Florida

I just want to show you a few fun and usable things that I found while out thrifting and they seem to fit right into my little cottage.
First off i love little porcelain pots, and cookware, and I found this great strainer for like 2.00 at our local thrift, so I nabbed it. ain't she sweet?
And the minute I saw this cute little spoon rest/ bowl/whatever i want to put in it, versatile  fish piece, I snatched it up with my greedy little paws. pretty, tiny hands.
It was only 1.00 and doesn't it look darling next to my fishy trivet by the oven?
One of my all time favorite pieces I ever thrifted was a wopping 3.00 platter
that says on the back "hand painted, Italy"
It is great for getting big orders off the Barbbie, or for a huge selection of fruit. I love the blues and greens, and that it features fish.

A big white glass embossed bowl perfect for serving mash potatoes in, Love at first sight- it had to come home with me!

Perfect for feathering my nest!

The blue tinted wine glass below, I grabbed at a yard sale down here at the shore a while back for 25 Cents... and wished they had more than one. It is featured below  at dinner. :)
I have been fooling around with my new camera all week. The photo challenge for week 4 at a step in the journey was dinner.

I'm not very experienced at taking pictures of food. I do see it around in magazines and food blogs. 
But  this was the challenge, so I took a few pics of the dinner I made, tortellini and meatballs, and settled on this one for my shot in the challenge, because I like how the wine glass looks up against the porcelain pasta strainer.

It's a simple dinner tonight only for two, and not a great big gang of us!
I gotta go finish setting the table....
 Arrivederci Amico

Joining in at these parties!
Feathered Nest Fridays @ French Country Cottage
Photography Challenge: Week #4 @ A Step in the Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cape May Diamonds

If you are familiar with the Cape May NJ area you've probably heard about Cape May diamonds.
But many people have no idea what they are, and have never heard about them. I mentioned them in a post last week about lanterns that I make. My Cape May Lantern
They really only show up on a certain beach in Cape May, Sunset Beach. Although Cape May is on the Atlantic Ocean where the sun rises, not sets...this beach is special because yes the sun does set here, over the water. And it is celebrated by many people who come to view, just like in Key West. This is Sunset Beach Cape May, NJ

It is where the Delaware river empties into the Atlantic ocean. The river is vast here and you can not see land on the other side. So you get to see the sun go down. The river is the reason for the diamonds.

I googled the term Cape May Diamonds and came up with some pretty neat stuff about them.

left side=in the rough //right side= polished
Cape May's "diamonds."
Cape May's "diamonds."
Photo by Colin Archer & Marc Steiner/Agency New Jersey

And here is a close up of what you can expect to find on the beach.  After a bit of tumbling they become shiny like this.
My picture of the pebbles raw and washed up on the beach is below. so you have to do some picking for the white and the clear, and the peach ones.
How pretty the clear ones are tumbled

Below is a pic I took last year at Sunset Beach. 
 (Better pics will be forthcoming now that I have a better camera)

The bird is sitting on a rock jetty and just beyond is the sunken concrete  ship  Atlantis. 
It is said that these two huge objects, are what forces the pebbles to wash ashore here rather than be thrust out to sea. 
So the forces of nature and the dalliance of man on these shores have resulted in a unusual and enjoyable trinket.

Below is a pic of jewelry made from the Diamonds

Here is the some of the info that came up on my google search.

Here is what New Jersey Monthly has to say..
The diamonds begin their lives truly “in-the-rough” in  the upper reaches of the Delaware River, in the areas around the Delaware Water Gap. Pieces of quartz crystal are broken off from veins and pockets by the swift-running waters of mountain streams that feed the river. Thus begins a journey of more than 200 miles that takes thousands of years to complete. Along the way, the sharp edges of the stones are smoothed as they are propelled along the river bottom. Eventually the stones come to rest on the shores of the Delaware Bay in South Jersey.

Thousands of vacationers in the Cape May area each year search for these sparkling crystals that, when cut and faceted, have the appearance of real diamonds. The largest concentration of booty is located on the sands of Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. Here, the wreck of the ship Atlantus and a rock jetty trap the stones, which are forced ashore in large quantities just prior to being swept by the tides into the Atlantic Ocean.

Some days the stones are more plentiful than others. “The best time to hunt is on cold, windy days when the water is churned up and just after storms,” says Kathy Hume, of family-owned Sunset Beach Gift Shops. Would-be prospectors should come equipped with a beach bucket, sand shovel, and a beach sieve to shake off sand. Typical specimens are about the size of a pea and come in a variety of shapes and colors. “Much of the time, larger stones the size of grapes are just underneath a layer of smaller ones,” advises Hume. Prospectors may also find sharks’ teeth, Indian arrowheads (some of museum quality), agates, and black quartz.

The gift shops at Sunset Beach sell Cape May diamond jewelry, including pendants, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and stud earrings. The pieces are made from gems that have been smoothed and polished in rock tumblers or cut and faceted. Prices start at 99 cents for a polished stone with a description card, and run up to $265 for a 14-karat gold ring with a 6-millimeter stone (just under one karat).
Cape May diamonds may have more than just monetary or sentimental value. In an earlier time, the local Kechemeche Indians, a part of the Lenni-Lenape tribe, believed the gems had supernatural powers to influence the well-being and good fortune of their possessor. The bonds of friendship and lasting goodwill were often sealed with gifts or exchanges of the sacred gems.

I hope you enjoyed my post about one of the unique qualities found along the Jersey shore.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Always Summer in Florida

I know soon the Fall decorating begins in blogland. Too soon for me.
I will be the very last to indulge in that.

I love summertime, and no matter how hot it gets, I always want the season to remain. I have to admit September is one of my favorite Summer months. Yes, summer doesn't end until September 21, so it is officially, mostly, a summer month. The water is warm and the beach is delightful in September. So, being my favorite summer month, I savor it. I celebrate the last stages of summer, like it was the final stages of a ceremony, and aren't those final stages always the best?
Now when I am down the shore in New Jersey I can literally tell when summer is coming to it's final 3 weeks by the blooms on the seagrass out back. .
As you can see from this picture taken today, the blooms are just beginning to sprout. August 14th, plenty of summer left. ( My neighbor got a nice new picket fence.... I might need to plant some roses! I love roses on a picket fence)

There is actually only one visible plume sprout, dead center in this photo just popping out

 By the end of summer there will be tons of plumes up and they get real plump and full like I showed you here in this tablescape post where I filled a fabric basket with the seagrass plumes.

So Jersey's summer will end in 5 weeks. But Florida, now that a different story.

What I truly appreciate about Southwest Florida is that it's pretty much always summer. And that's why I go there, in the dead of winter after Christmas when I start longing for sunshine again.
My mantel in Florida will forever reflect summer. The tropical painting was a Home Goods find.

 I suppose if i were to actually live there, well then I might actually make a Fall and Christmas mantel, ...for like.. a week....but in no way, no how, will I do it now. First off I won't be there till after Christmas.

I go there for the never ending summer. To get way, far away, from the cold.
To drool at the warm delights of the sea. The shells are all collected from beaches on the gulf coast, except the starfish. Both mason jars are old, an Atlas and a Ball, found at a little antique shop in Englewood. And the large shell my daughter found while snorkeling at Boca Grande

I love my Florida fireplace!  It is made entirely of fossilized coral.  My little nymph was found at a thrift store, isn't she sweet? A candle or seashell fits perfectly in the flower she holds. The picture below is only half of our gang. Hub, me and our 3 girls. We also have 3 boys.

And I love how tall this fireplace is, it goes all the way up to the ceiling, and they are high.
I am seriously considering painting that black and gold  to  beige. ( hummmnn another project reason for me to disappear to Florida for a month)
I cozied it up by with some throw pillows, It's another place to plop down when there's a crowd.
I made the pillows myself

One side is a novelty fabric, the other side is dropcloth with beachy words written on it.

Thanks for stopping by, Smooth Sailin to ya!

posting at:
Show off your cottage
Metamorphosis Monday
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
Good Life Wednesday @ A Beach Cottage

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Chilling with a Bahama Mama with Premium Dark Rum

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Diageo. All opinions are 100% mine.

Having an ice cold tropical cocktail always makes me feel like I am on a little vacation. Even if I am just hanging around in my own back yard, a frosty cold drink is so relaxing.

In Florida there are a lot of places that serve the tropical drink Bahama Mama and it is one of my absolute favorites.

Back here in New Jersey, it's not so easy to find a good Bahama Mama,to go along with your dining experience, and some places don't even make them. So I have tried several different recipes myself to come up with what I think is the best. 

I've shared my Mojito recipe with you before in this post here so let me share with you what i think is truly the best Bahama Mama recipe around.

In a blender:

1 1/2 oz Zacapa premium rum

1 oz coconut rum

1/2 oz grenadine

2 oz orange juice

1 oz pineapple jc

 6 ice cubes

Blend until frosty


The secret that makes this recipe the best is the Zacappa brand premium dark rum. The reason is they have a very special way of making this rum. I have read that the process used in aging this rum is absolutely like no other. Zacapa is acknowledged to be the world's best tasting rum.


The story behind it is rather interesting.

In 1976 in Guatemala,  the town of Zacapa was celebrating it's centenary celebration and this is when it gave birth to the world best tasting rum. The terrain just west of this area produces quality sugar cane. This is the cane used by Zacapa for it's rum. But the difference is, where most rums are made from molasses, which is a by product of the sugar making process, Zacapa uses only the first press of sugar cane otherwise known as virgin sugar cane honey.

They also have a unique aging process, one which was first developed by the Spaniards 500 years ago to age Sherry, high up on a mountain in a place called the House above the Clouds. This location is 2300 meters above sea level, Each drop of this fine rum passes through huge vessels that previously housed American Whiskey, Oloroso Sherry, and Pedro Ximenez wines. It is these vessels that impart an extremely distinctive flavor to the rum, making it the finest in the world.

The rum has won awards from different international competitions.

Early Zacapa bottles came in a bottle covered in a handwoven matting made from palm leaves which dates from the Mayan period

There is even a society of Zacapa lovers, which once you try my Mojito or Bahama Mama recipe, you might just become.

You can join the Zacapa society by simply registering here   

When you become a member of the Zacapa society you will learn exclusive details about this brand of rum and  will receive the opportunity to enjoy fantastic gifts and prizes along the way, and who doesn't love a prize?

Interestingly enough Zacapa is currently looking for talented writers and bloggers, to share with others the wonderful story of this distinctive premium dark rum  and it's aging process. 

As I sit in my little backyard Hacienda, sipping my delicious Bahama Mama  made with  the best  tasting rum in the world, watching the sun sparkle across the pool, I realize it's a really good life!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Photo Challenge #3 Bold Colors

Yippee, I finally got my Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. I'm not really sure of what I am doing. I guess I should read the manual. Years ago, I had an old Minolta  SLR. Everything about it was manual.
 I remember turning this and changing that to get different aperture settings. And learning about depth of field, shutter speed, manual focusing, different speed of the film you could buy. Certain ISO were for capturing birds in flight or fast moving objects. A tripod and a super slow shutter speed for capturing moonlight.
It's all different, now and I have so much to learn. I've never been a manual reader, so that alone is a challenge.
So it is starting from scratch for me. But not to worry my daughter, Karena has had a DSLR for about a year and she can give me some tips. She takes gorgeous photos. And while I am busy making all kinds of mistakes. I thought I might use one example of her work for this 3rd challenge which is Bold Colors

 The story behind this photo is:
Karena was out shopping one day, this past week, searching for a nice new summer dress. A rack of colorful dresses on black backgrounds caught her eye.
 Perusing through the bright assortment, she found that she wasn't the only one drawn to these somewhat tropical prints.
This unexpected admirer was just hanging around, clinging to the prettiest dress, right there in the middle of the bright lights and concrete floors!

This huge praying mantis looked right into the camera as if to say, "hey bug off this one's mine!"
She had the attendant gently capture her and escort her to the outside.

I have heard that the mantis is a symbol of good luck so I looked it up and this is what I've found.

Praying Mantis Meanings in the Realms of Animal Symbolism
The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we've flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we've created.
After observing this creature for any length of time you can see why the symbolism of the praying mantis deals with stillness and patience. The mantis takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace.

So that is my entry for todays challenge over at Laura Beth's blog A Step in the Journey

P.S. I hope I am not breaking any rules again, featuring my daughter, my teacher. I figured heck, if my tripod can take a picture then my daughter can. Plus I thought this one was really enjoyable, and it's not a contest, it's a challenge and it's all a step in the journey right?

Posting at Photo Challenge # 3 Bold Colors at A Step in the Journey

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Cape May Lantern

For today I'd like to show you the lanterns I make from mason jars,

Cape May Lantern

I call it the Cape May Lantern  because I make them when I am down the shore, in Cape May County, and I only use white pebbles collected from the Cape May Sunset Beach.

Sunset Beach in cape May is where they find the "Cape May Diamonds" They are much like these white ones but a bit more clear and when polished and cut they shine like a diamond and make gorgeous pieces of jewelery.

I might start also collecting the peach color pebbles but for now, I have a bit of obsession for only the white ones. Some come with a hint of grey, and some with a hint or vein of sandy beige.
 It gives a nice glow from the little tea lites, and a whole bunch of these lanterns creates a magical ambiance in a yard or lining  a path for a ceremony.

You can dangle them from tree limbs, or just set them on your deck.

 Wire twisted around the neck to form a lantern handle .
 A bit of twine tied around the neck in a little nautical knot.
I try to always use the Atlas mason jar, they have been making glass jars since the 1800's here in America. Sometimes I use butchers twine, or jute twine, and sometimes sisal rope. I like the neutral and white combinations.
These come in  handy when we have power failures, which we seem to have a lot of when the heat is on, and everyone is burning the air conditioners.

To me it's just nice to have the time to be able to craft things that I like  to look at ...and that serve a useful purpose. It's the Good Life!
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays
Get your Craft On
hooking up with ~White Wednesday # 112~
and Good Life Wednesday
Wicked Awesome Wednesday #24
Under $100 Linky Party @ Beyond the Picket Fence
Strut Your Stuff @ Somewhat Simple
At the Picket Fence

Feathered Nest Fridays

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