It’s a Keeper! Found a Big Horse Conch

horse conch big seashell
Horse Conch
Yesterday, while walking the low tide sands around Three Sisters Islands, I came across a big seashell that was empty! I saw a lot of nice crown conchs, small pear whelks, and a nice big sharks eye shell, but all were occupied by hermit crabs. Until I saw the horse conch, all I had collected were bivalves, which were filled with sand, and not living creatures. I found a ‘giant Atlantic cockle’ which is joined, so I have two perfect, connected halves, and a pretty ‘dosinia’ which is a flat, whitish shell.

We piled into the Gheenoe – three of us – which was a tight fit, and headed out in the heat to do some fishing and island hopping. Being the middle of the week, we had the river pretty much to ourselves. Since the tide was just beginning to come in, there was plenty of exposed sand to explore.

The only types of shells that are abundant are the clumps of oysters which are the bane of boaters. So finding some collectable shells means searching. It was a 95 degree day (actually cooler than what we’ve been having), and even the water was hot – yes, like a hot tub – but I shuffled around the edges of the island in search of something good that was close enough to see and reach. Continue reading It’s a Keeper! Found a Big Horse Conch

Manatees Playing at Haulover Boat Ramp

manatees haulover canal
Manatees at Haulover Canal

Nick and I took a ride over to the Mims and Titusville area the other day and one place we stopped was the Haulover Canal boat ramp. It’s a much smaller place than I thought, with only one ramp, but a nice trailer parking area. We walked out on the metal dock and that is where we watched the manatees play.

It was hot so we didn’t stay long, but the small bay area, where the boats launch and dock, was full of manatees. The water is brown and murky (brackish) but the manatees could be seen breaking the surface, splashing and rolling around. I got a short 30 second video – it was too bright for me to easily see what I was filming.  It was also really hot – did I say that?

The boats go very slow in this little bay, so the manatees just move out of the way when they hear the motors. We drove over the bridge and went to the eastern side of the canal where there is a “Manatee Watching Deck” and didn’t see any manatees there. The boat dock was the best place to see them. (The observation area had port-o-potties, fyi.)

The Haulover Canal is a channel for boats to go between the Indian River, on the west, and Mosquito Lagoon, to the east. Both are wide open bodies of water. The canal is part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. On the opposite side from the boat launching area is a long dirt road. We traveled down to the end and saw cars stopped and little camps set up where people were fishing along the canal. At the end was an area to put in canoes and kayaks. This is the view from the end of that road which looks out into the Indian River lagoon, which is a huge area.

Haulover canal, Indian river lagoon
Indian River Lagoon

This is an aerial view of the area we visited. Click the picture below which takes you to the public boat ramp page.

aerial view of haulover canal
Aerial view of this area – click to view the page at Florida Fish and Wildlife public boat ramp finder

I can’t wait to have a boat so we can check out this area from the water!

How I Promote My Zazzle Products Fast

blue hydrangea envelope seals with RSVP
Envelope Seals

I’ve been running a design business from home, through the Zazzle company, since 2007. Now that I have the hang of design and store set-up (mostly), my main focus day-to-day is promotion of my products. If you work online you already know that promotion is BIG. Simply having great things to sell means very little if no one ever sees what you have created.

Way back, during my beginner days at Zazzle, Amy Jordan suggested that I make wedding items. She said that they appear to be money-makers, so I took her advice and ventured into the huge wedding market. I didn’t even realize how huge it was at the time. The fact that I sell anything in a bloated sea of wedding stationery is a surprise in itself. The fact that I can make a living selling wedding stationery is a blessing. It may also be greatly due to the fact that I have been promoting myself for years.

In 2007 I didn’t know how to do any of this when I began (what turned out to be my Dream Job). I had no idea how to make money online, but I gave it a whirl. I had nothing to lose, as Zazzle charges nothing to join and sell at their site. Continue reading How I Promote My Zazzle Products Fast

Beach-combing Again in Florida

shells found at beach
Sea Treasures

As a celebration of my moving back to Florida recently, we went to the beach yesterday! How sweet is was to float in the warm ocean water again. And of course I had to search for seashells. The central east coast is not known for it’s abundance of seashells, but I did find a few to take home with me.

After the move, from the northeast to the south, most of my things are in storage – including my old seashell collection. That means I have to begin a new one! So here I go – beginning with a piece of a large sand dollar and a shiny Sawtooth pen shell.

I also found many arks, which are able to survive the rough surf because of their thick shells. In fact I think the ark is the most often found bivalve on the east coast beach I visit. Everything I found yesterday was a bivalve (shells with two halves), with the exception of the piece of sand dollar.

Now that I am able to go out and collect seashells much more frequently, I will study them closer and try to determine exactly what I have. Many types of shells look very similar, yet have different names.

Today I learned that the Incongruous ark (Anadara brasiliana) can be recognized by the dashes that appear across each section of their ribs.

Incongruous ark shells
Incongruous ark shells

As you can see (hopefully) in my photo above, the ribs running along the shell are not smooth, but bumpy.

To identify seashells, sometimes a close inspection is needed. At first glance, most of the shells I found looked all the same. A good identification book will show pictures from the top and bottom of the shell and give a description about how to tell shells apart.

It helps to know seashell identification terminology too. Words like “umbo”, “teeth”, “apex” and other anatomy of a mollusk.

By the way, I managed to find a couple of Common jingle shells yesterday also! That was exciting.

Pictures of Sea Urchins

Sea urchins are some of the coolest creatures living in the sea. They have long spikes that help them navigate under water, but we usually see them spike-less.
The Pixabay site has some new, awesome sea urchin photos which I will share here.
Remember that these are free images, which have been added to the public domain, and you can find more like them at

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Sea Urchin Pile Up
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Purple sea urchin and coral
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Living Sea Urchin
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Sea Urchin Photography

Dropping a Line

Cat on my home office desk
Blogging / Home Office

Just a quick post to update the blog, which I have been ignoring lately.  Selling a home takes a lot of planning and a lot of work.  I don’t have to tell those of you who have done so!  But that is what I’ve been up do over the past months.

It looks like a done deal, so I am busy packing and trashing unneeded items.  There is nothing like a move from one house to another to clear out the junk that’s been lingering in cabinets and dresser drawers.

Also I am moving back to the south, so a wardrobe adjustment is needed.  It looks like the chance of snow has passed us up here in New Hampshire, so it’s time to donate the winter coats, mittens, hats, etc.  My daughter will get my Bean boots, and she can’t wait for me to hand them over!

Soon I will literally be dropping a line – into the ICW, hoping for a nice redfish to bite.

It’s a big change, but I know what I am in for. Also I will have a lot more hands-on photos and experiences to share on this blog. It’s one thing to write about collecting seashells, when my shells were collected years ago, compared to writing a post about being on the beach and sharing my finds.

Between work, showing my house (which thankfully sold quickly), and planning the move, I’ve been too busy to write at any of my blogs. Once I get to the south I will seriously consider dropping some of them and concentrating on only the best (this one is number one).

I love to be out on the water, but I also love gardening, so I will keep my gardening blog and will add to that whenever I have time.

Please stay tuned to share my new adventures in my old home – the state of Florida, where I hope to add to my seashell collection.

seashells from florida
Seashells from Florida

Fighting With Thieves and Design Fraud at Amazon

Much of the online work I do is related to the ocean and seashore. I use personal images and graphic designs with a tropical, beach theme to make items to sell in my Zazzle stores. I support myself and my teenage son through the work I do each and every day. A lot of work goes into the creation of a product such as the one below, that I sell at my SeashellsbyMillhill store.  But you can also find an image of this exact same pillow on Amazon, due to copyright infringement, where someone has helped him/herself to the image of my pillow. The Zazzle watermark is removed and the image is next to a phony description leading you to believe that is belongs to that store owner.
It’s sickening to find that the image has been copied to be sold by thieves at the Amazon site. Not only one design, but many, many designs have gone this route. There is a continuous flood of fraudulent stores being opened at Amazon by unscrupulous people who go around stealing images by taking a screenshot and then selling goods containing artwork by hard-working designers.

Most of the items I’ve found of mine have been pillows, but there are other items to beware of.
**Copied images WILL NOT be of good quality. Don’t waste your money buying from fraudulent sellers.  Many of my orange starfish / tropical pillows are showing on Amazon for sale and THEY SHOULD NOT BE THERE..!

persimmon orange starfish pillow
My persimmon orange starfish pillow is just one of many STOLEN designs showing up at Amazon.

I spend much of each day, seven days a week, creating designs, uploading them to Zazzle and making products to sell in my online stores. When people simply help themselves to an image (which, by the way, will print blurry since it is not of good quality when a screenshot is taken) and then print it up on their own cheap pillow cloth to sell, they are stealing money from me – or whomever they steal it from. Continue reading Fighting With Thieves and Design Fraud at Amazon