What I Do With Them

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People always ask what I do with the seashells, driftwood, rocks, and sea-glass I love to collect. My mind is full of things to make, and “Pinterest” keeps that list growing. I’d be lying though, if I said I’ve found uses for all I’ve brought home, but I’ll share a few easy projects and tips.

To start, my collections are kept separated and marked where they’re from, because in reality, it’s not that I craft as much as I make momentums that with a glance we can recall a place and a trip.

The ornament pictured above almost made itself because I found these big shells stuck together. By gluing on a couple other tiny shells, and a candle holder this memory of Parksville, B.C. was completed and ready to sit on our shelf.

On our recent sibling holiday to Vancouver Island, my sister often combed the shores with me. She collected small driftwood for her own craft projects, but I noticed her drawn to pieces of broken blue shells. Sometimes she would admire them then put them down, but sometimes she handed me them suggesting, maybe I could make use of them.

Soon after we were home, I surprised her with the necklace and bracelet set pictured in the collage. It’s hard to believe at my age and with the years of collecting ocean treasures that this is my first attempt at making shell jewelry, but it was.

I researched, “You tube,” for what-to-use and how-to drill holes in delicate shells. A rotary drill, and a diamond tip bit while resting the shell on a cork just submerged in water worked great, none broke.

The coolest thing I learned though, was how-to restore seashells. Dip them for 3 seconds in (1 part Muriatic acid and 3 parts water) then rinse. It removes the white salt residue, revealing and enhancing their color. The difference on some was so amazing, I made Mister come in the bathroom and watch me do a couple.

But please, before trying this, check out a video yourself for the precautions and the process tips.

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While in the jewelry making mood, and again getting hints from online videos, I tried my hand at wire wrapping. Finally, making myself a couple sea-glass bracelets.

The wire choices in craft stores is overwhelming, so I researched then took a guess and bought a 20 gauge, silver-plated German wire for these. It’s pliable and easy to work with, but trial and error taught me, that the proper beading pliers (which I got the next trip back into town) worked so much better than an average pair for making loops.

Things like my small shells, rocks and sea-glass I keep in display jars, but I wanted a few special pieces to be more visible than that. Window hangers were my choice for this.

The two I made are pretty basic, but if you want to get creative search Pinterest for ideas. Both these are done with wrapping (one is wire and the other hemp cord) not drilling. I worried about the shells holding the weight of the rocks between them on the longer one, and I also haven’t tried drilling sea-glass yet. I’m not brave enough to risk splitting them.

Another reason these hangers work great is, I can write on the back of the wood where they’re from and the year.

Bigger driftwood is something I collect while home at the lake. Ask Mister, I’ve got shelves of it drying in the extra shed. There’s a tub of dried pieces under our bed, long spindly or neat gnarly ones decorate here and there, inside the house and outside.

Most of my stock pile is for crib boards, which I make and sell. For them, I like the pieces to dry for at least two years. That way any cracks or rotten spots will show up before I hand paint and drill them.

Lamps, shelves, and picture frames are a few other projects on my, to-do-list, though. I love the beachy vibe of driftwood. It will be my wood of choice, and perfect for decorating the home addition we’re planning this spring.

Large driftwood pieces are scattered throughout our yard as landscape ornaments.

When my sister and her husband had a cottage here, her and I would go out driftwood hunting in our 2 person beach kayak. Too bad there are no pictures documenting how we would load that thing down. Sometimes, we barely stayed above water, and we got quite a workout padding the extra weight back home. If a piece was too large to get in or on it, and they were dry enough, we would drag them floating behind on ropes.

On a couple occasions we got the boys to follow us with the pontoon boat back to pieces we set aside, ones we just couldn’t manage with the kayak. Mister often joked he should have a loading crane on, Bella, (our boat) to get some of our finds up on deck.

So this is what I do with some treasures I gather.

Do you collect things while walking a beach or shore?

Do you craft with them?

Do you like to do any kind of crafting?

Can’t Get Much Closer, The Final Leg

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My previous post had us six siblings at the wonderful, Cowichan Bay. From there we drove the paved logging road across, Vancouver Island to, Port Renfrew. A never visited destination for all of us.

Port Renfrew, has less town than I expected, but it makes it up with scenery and tranquility.

The online pictures of our accommodation made it one of my anticipated stops this trip.

We reserved a two bedroom, log, row cabin, at, “Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages,” and one word describes it, “Wow.” Gorgeous, peaceful, or cozy would work too.

I’ve never stayed this close to the ocean. (Even on the cruise ship, the water was farther  away.) At this seaside cottage, high tide waves almost lapped  at our deck’s support beams.

The shoreline at the bottom of our few deck steps was by far the best part for me, a sea-glass hunters paradise. Every chance I got I combed the stretch out front of our room.

Until this trip, the most pieces I’ve found on a holiday was, nine. I left this cove with a cup full. Without an actual count, I’d guess in 7 different colors.

Wild Renfrew’s staff was great, Martin K. in particular. He checked us in, looked after our needs (the precious extra coffee and condiments needed), and suggested places of interest in the area.

He deserves a special thanks, for the courtesy of emailing us that the brother-in-law left something behind, and then for taking time to package and mail it to his home. Many places wouldn’t bother doing this, and it was appreciated.

Some may think I’m strange for this, but I chalk it up to being a mother. No cell phone service in most of, Port Renfrew, took a little getting use to. It’s not that I’m addicted to my phone, but I relay on it for accessibility if the kids need us. The cabin had internet though, so we touched base that way.

The cabin also had satellite T.V., which we didn’t really watch, but it was usually on when the guys were inside.

In mine and Mister’s almost forty years together, I could probably count with my fingers how many places we’ve stayed without television. Most of those were not by choice. Mister is not an avid watcher, but he has said, “Roughing it even while camping, is not having satellite T.V.” I guess regarding televisions and cell phones, him and I are creatures of habit who like the comforts of home. Smiley face.

Back to Port Renfrew and this holiday. We ate a big, tasty lunch at the pub, therefore that night we opted for a simple hot dog supper cooked in our cabin’s kitchen. There was a campfire area and wood available but we were lazy. Oh, another great amenity at, Wild Renfrew, is propane fire pits on each deck. The men made good use of ours, whether outside soaking up the view or avoiding a house full of women, who knows, but it kept the October chill away.

All six of us stayed the first night in one cabin. Space wasn’t an issue, but one bathroom was a little tricky. Older bodies and hide-a-bed sofas don’t always get along though, so the sister and her husband moved to a cute studio suite for the second night.

At the other end of town from where we stayed is, San Jaun Beach. Probably a busy place during the summer, but other than the few fishermen, we were the only ones strolling it on our daily visits. This was my sister’s favorite spot for soaking up sunshine while searching the sandy beach for small driftwood pieces for a wreath she wants to make. A great place to let the sound of rhythmic waves wash away your cares.

Martin K. also suggested we do the short drive to Jaun de Fuca Provincial Park to explore Botany Bay and Botanic Beach. He said low tide was the best time to go because it’s when you can see the marine life in the tidal  pools. Lucky for us low tide was at noon the next day, and that’s when we went.

Our group is plagued with age related issues and aches, but by taking our time we managed the hike down from the parking lot, and back up, I might add. Worth the effort, and a highlight for Mister and I.

After roaming the rocks the others started back up the trail. I had been trying to capture a picture of a big wave as it splashed over a certain rock, so Mister and I stayed behind.

While I stood positioned, concentrating and waiting for the perfect shot, Mister scanned the open water. He soon reverted my attention to something far more interesting though.

We spent maybe a half hour longer at the beach than the others, and with patience, and persistence, I got a good number of pictures of off shore whales and their water spouts. At one time we counted five water spouts.

The coastal drive from Port Renfrew to Sooke is pretty and one we would like to do again but would allow more time for stopping at beaches next time. One place we stopped at was, Sheringham lighthouse. We didn’t hike all the way down to it, but got pictures of it non-the-less.

We spent a night at Best Western, Prestige Inn, in Sooke before heading on to Victoria and the Days Inn on the harbor. These were both waterfront hotels and the last before we had to head inland and home.

Would watching whales be worth a hike for you?

Are you a patient picture taker?

Everyone’s Favorite, Part#2

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Us six siblings and our two vehicle caravan drove off the ferry at Little River terminal, Vancouver Island. Continuing our ocean-side holiday, we crossed the city of Courtney, to Kingfisher Resort and Spa. Because of our short stay, I booked partial-view rooms here.

To our surprise, partial-view meant that a beautiful landscaped and manicured lawn was between us and the building which offered the full-view rooms. The unique part was, that building was terraced into the bank, so from our particular patios we could still see the ocean over it.

The next day we drove to the west side of Vancouver Island, which is open to the Pacific Ocean. A region with spectacular views and well known for wave watching and surfing.

Long Beach, is one of my favorite on this side. It’s ten miles of sandy shore and rolling to roaring waves depending on the day. The best part is, you pass right by it going to Tofino, our night’s destination.

All of us had been to Tofino before, yet Mister and I had never stayed there because it’s a doable day trip from across the island. Oceanfront accommodations at this end can be pricey, but this time we all splurged for rooms at the seaside, Best Western Tin Wis.

Tofino’s weather can be wet, but we went prepared. Our packed rain-gear came in handy when we walked the Hotel’s beach that afternoon and the next morning. (This beach is pictured in, “Pre-Book Accommodations or Wing-It”.)

The sister-in-law fulfilled her dream to waltz in the ocean with my brother. Even though, her mid-calf rubber boots filled with icy water in waves that splashed higher than their knees.

The town offers many small interesting shops, and there’s no shortage of fantastic seafood restaurants. There are also whale watching tour companies based there.

Before heading back to the east-side of the island, we also visited Uclulet where we walked the scenic Pacific Rim Trail and of course shopped a little.

Our next stay was at, Beach Club Resort, in popular, Parksville. The long wooden boardwalk out front of this resort is great for those who want to stroll and not get their footwear dirty. For shell pickers the shallow shores mean a huge beach becomes exposed when the tide is out. (Pictured in “Watching The Tide Roll Away”)

Since our last two accommodations were at busy, touristy spots, I searched for a, off the main path, but still on the water location for our next two nights.

When the GPS had us exit the Trans Canada Highway onto a road that wound down through about eight miles of country side, I began to doubt my travel agent skills.

The road hadn’t reached sea level when the town of Cowichan Bay started and we arrived at the parking lot of our accommodation. It was so unassuming that if we had been winging-it, we may have passed it by.

We took no pictures, and neither Mister or I can remember exactly what it looked like from the front. I vaguely recall a simple earth-tone two story building with little to no windows, other than the glass lobby doors.

But, walk through those sliding doors and beyond the reception counter there is a sitting area, furnished and cozy like a living room. The eye catching feature though was the wall of windows where we got our first view of the bay and marina.

Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay ended up being a little piece of heaven we all enjoyed. A place each of us say we would re-visit in a heartbeat.

I booked kitchenette suites in case we felt like cooking a meal, (which we didn’t). The suites were spacious with separate bed and living rooms, both areas had patio doors which opened to the bay. (The picture above is from our room.)

From our couches or beds we could watch Sea-Lions swimming in the marina and I saw on the news that shortly after we left there, Killer whales came right into the bay. Too bad we missed that.

When we went down to the swimming pool level, and stepped outside we were shocked by the size of the place. It didn’t match the impression we got from the front parking lot.

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It isn’t new but was clean, well-kept and updated. We encountered friendly staff and great food from both its restaurant and the pub next door.

The town of Cowichan Bay, offers a candy and ice cream shop, a general store, a bakery, a whale watching tour company. These and more little shops, and all just a short walk from the hotel.

If you’re planning to visit Vancouver Island, and you don’t mind staying minutes from city conveniences, we highly recommend Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay.

Its location on the coast is great for doing day trips to many of the popular tourist places. Or, if you’re looking for a comfortable and quiet place to relax with stunning bay views, this place should be a serious contender.

This is post 2 of 3 on our Vancouver Island trip.

Have you ever stumbled on a hidden treasure like this when you’ve pre-booked an accommodation?

West Coast Wonderful

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Spectacular Shorelines

 

Tomorrow will be the first of two, long, tiresome legs of a coming journey. The thought causes a twinge of an expected ache in my lower back and butt. Excitement mounts as the hours tick closer, to the point where the last nights sleep in my bed becomes restless.

Prior to departure is a week if not more of preparation and sleep deprivation. The, I got to run to a store for that. I better start a pile of what not to forget. Oh, I might need that but where the heck is it? Wash clothes and then don’t wear items that might get packed. Arrange who will water plants and cut lawn.

A couple days before we leave it’s time to Google the weather for where we’re headed. Next is decisions and the actual packing. Layers, it always ends up layers. If I take that skirt I’ll need different shoes. If I take extra shoes, I’ll lose valuable clothes space, what a dilemma. I rethink my choices knowing I can be more efficient with mixing and matching. Time to empty the suitcase and start over.

Does this silly routine sound familiar? Who else starts a holiday with a similar process?

I sometimes think, “Is the trip worth it?” then scold myself. Stressing about the extra effort doesn’t last long because I’m grateful for travel opportunities. Whether one or numerous nights away, whether a near or distant destination, a trip is a trip and I cherish them all.

Of course, not every vacation is uneventful, minus challenges or mishaps. Our family has a motto for life though, which came years ago from my mother, “See the best in every situation and simply enjoy. Things happen for a reason. Delay’s put you where you need to be.” Some most remembered and talked about past holiday adventures involve, vehicle breakdowns, travel delays, last minute plan alterations, or unexpected weather.

It’s also normal for me to mourn the end of a trip. A fairly fresh feeling as it’s been mere weeks since returning home from the latest special excursion.

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My Travel Companions

Exploring the Washington, Oregon coast was not new to my husband and I, but we’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying the sights with my oldest brother and his wife. A fun two week, 4334 kilometer road-trip, spent appreciating glorious scenery and each others company.

We strolled beaches, boardwalks, and interesting small-town streets. A unexpected bonus was stopping at roadside pull-outs to whale watch, and yes there are pictures to prove this fish story. (I point that out because of a trip where only I saw a whale and which our kids still believe was a rock formation.) During this recent drive we spotted deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and even a black bear. We photographed sea lions, seals, amazing views, lighthouses, and waterfalls. After a GPS programing issue, we made our sternwheeler reservation with only minutes to spare and relaxed on a river cruise. Who knew Oregon state has two towns with very similar names. Of course, we shopped, we ate our fill of clam chowder soups, and we relentlessly teased each other, but most importantly we laughed and laughed often. What more could one wish for? Thanks again to our travel companions for the wonderful time.

We proved you’re never to old for pipe-dreams. Visiting quaint ocean-side towns and breathtaking areas the four of us discussed where we would relocate after winning a big lottery. When we toured marinas and shipyards, the huge ocean crafts compared to our familiar lake vessels left us in awe. We picked out which yacht for my husband and I and which sailboat for my brother and his wife would fit into our new imagined lifestyles.

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Gang Leader

My brother found this little guy at one of our stops and he became our trip mascot. A squeeze of his paw when we started a drive triggered a rough gravelly rendition of “Born To Be Wild”. I shared a performance video of this with our kids and our daughter replied with a sassy text, “So you guys are born to be wild, travelling in a mini van, going to fabric stores.” She gets her sarcasm from her father. (Here would be a great place for a happy face emoji.) Our son teased us less, probably because only last year he experienced one of these madcap, minivan trips with us four. A post covering that adventure will appear in the future. In our defence, it was only one fabric store, and we had a purpose. It’s difficult to find nautical prints living in the prairies. I needed some such material for a quilting project and my brother needed a curtain for his sailboat. 

Lesson I learned

Road trips with siblings once you’ve become an adult can be less traumatic. Being the youngest child of five, two of those being brothers pretty much explains my sediment. At least I’ve outgrown my fear that mountains are sleeping monsters waiting to eat little girls. A tale and little joke both my brothers found entertaining

Are you a organize ahead type of traveller or the day before throw a few things into a suitcase and that’s that?

Has anyone else travelled with siblings and enjoyed the excursion?

Liking or commenting on a post helps me see what topics are of interest.

Thanks in advance for your support.