Rug Hooking in Florida

When I think of wool, I think of cold nights snuggled under a warm blanket…not Florida! And my latest art form uses a lot of wool. I love rug hooking so much that I’m willing to work with wool in warm temperatures, but I wasn’t sure other people in my RV resort would feel the same way.

Two ladies heard that I hooked rugs last year and approached me about showing them how to do it. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, it was already Spring and time to head home. But I promised to send them information about rug hooking over the course of the year, I signed up for a room in the Rv park, Sun N Fun, to hold our meetings and they said they would order what was needed to begin rug hooking. With that, we parted our ways for nine months.

All summer long, I sent out messages with ideas of where to buy a hook, frame and kit. I kept wondering if they would actually show up and want to learn. And the big question was would I be able to teach them how to do it.

Well, let me tell you that this season in Florida has been the best one for me yet! Here are the two lovely, FUN ladies that urged me to teach them.

Trisha and Sherry love to have fun!

And then another who parked her camper next to mine and saw me hooking my project from her window decided to come and join us.

I loved being Donna’s neighbor!

Donna, Sherry and I were already on the same street in our RV resort and Trisha decided to move over and join us. Our street became lovingly known as hooker alley. (I do at times wish this wonderful art had a different name!) We sure had fun getting together mid week to hook outside by our campers.

Hooking at the campsite

Even though I was still working on my hummingbird piece, I felt the need for a more simple piece to work on while teaching others. Something quick and easy that I could start and finish while showing the ladies each step. I designed the “Love Always” love bird piece. 

Of course, the birds are my sweetie and me. And of course, he had opinions as I designed it. At first I drew the birds to look pretty much the same. But he thought the male bird should be fancier, like in nature. We had a good laugh when he suggested a top knot! Even though he is bald, he thought the bird to represent him should have more feathers on top! So, I drew it out and liked it very much. I was able to start and finish it in a few days. I love my twist on Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Pattern available here: Love Always

So, then it was time to design something else for me to work on. The hummingbird piece still needs to be finished. I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet on that one…. Anyway, there was one photo from our trip from Maine that I really love. I feel that it captures much of what my life is about: nature, travel and LOVE! Here is Matt and me by Bass Harbor Light.

I love the photo, but thought that the design needed to be tweaked a bit. Wanting us to be the focal point without having the piece huge, I made us a bit larger.

I had not yet hooked a sky, so I decided to follow the advice of Cindi Gay in her book: Pine Trees, Grass and Sky. What a wonderful book! And since I have’t done any dyeing of wool (although I am sorely tempted), I ordered “sky wool” from Cindi. It is just beautiful! My photo had no clouds in the sky, but I added some. Since I started the piece, I have spent quite a bit of time staring at the clouds in the sky. They are so varied and beautiful! Here is how it looks so far. My first hooked sky!

Bass Harbor Kiss by Janine Broscious

My friends and I also went each Monday to participate in hooking time with others an hour away. They were doing some overdyeing with ice. So I took some wool and gave it a try. What gorgeous colors! I really am getting quite interested in the dyeing process.

Well, my RV lady friends actually each finished a piece. Here is Sherry with her beautiful mat. (Notice her AWESOME name tag!? If you don’t have one yet, here is where you can order one: Rug Hooking Name Tag)

Sherry did great with her first hooked mat!

And Trisha finished her version of my “Happy Campers” rug pattern. She put the words, Joy, joy, joy, into it because RVing gives her and her husband such joy. What a joy to see her finished piece!

Happy Campers design hooked by Trisha Senterfitt. Design by Janine Broscious

So, rug hooking in Florida has been an amazing experience. I’ve had a great time seeing others enjoy learning a new art form. And I’ve made some lasting friendships! We are all looking forward to next season with many others promising to join us.

Sanibel’s Amazing Shells

Sanibel Island is one place that I have wanted to visit ever since I heard of it. This beautiful island off the shore of Fort Myers, Florida is regularly listed as the best place in the world for shelling. Where we stay in Florida is about 2 hours away and we just never seemed to get there. Finally, we had a day when Matt didn’t have to work, so we took the trip to see what we could find. We got up much earlier than I usually do, so I enjoyed seeing the sunrise and had to take a quick pic out the windshield. It was going to be a lovely day!Sunrise on the way to Sanibel Island

Many things were in our favor this day and that was the reason we chose it. I had been researching, especially here, about the best times for shelling. It is said that after a storm is best and just before low tide. Then there are also the factors of the moon phase and wind. Plus it is wise to get there to find the shells before the crowds arrived. Everything was just perfect! We munched on hardboiled eggs and cold bacon as we drove the miles to this famous beach. Would we find anything? I’ve been to several beaches where I never found a whole shell. I was excited to see if this beach would live up to its reputation. We were early enough to find parking for our huge truck, Sherman, but we were definitely not the first ones there. I should have gotten up earlier. Maybe all the shells were already taken. Here was my first glimpse of Sanibel Island’s beach.Lighthouse beach at Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious

It sure looked like there was a lot of something on the beach. I ran down and started looking. There were a LOT of shells! I picked a pretty one up, but the animal was still living it. One rule of shelling is to let the ones with live animals alone. So, I put him back on the sand. I picked up another one. Yikes, another animal! The shells were beautiful, but partly because they were still occupied and useful to their owners. I was getting an education on what these fascinating creatures were like. This shell, called a tulip shell, was just gorgeous…and still occupied.Tulip shell photo by Janine Broscious

We always chat with the other people on the beach and we were privileged to meet Ken. He volunteers at the shell museum on Sanibel Island and was a wealth of information. He explained which shells were more rare than others. I joked with him that I planned to find a junonia shell. He looked at me like I was crazy since those shells aren’t found very often. I’ve heard they are found once a week, but Matt said once a season. Anyway, Ken said I probably should have gotten to the beach a bit earlier than 8 am to get a junonia. Here he is holding some tulip by Janine Broscious

While chatting with him, I found a tulip with another shell hanging on to it. He told me to take a photo of it. I had found a tulip animal eating the animal from another shell and Ken said you didn’t see that very often.Tulip shell photo by Janine Broscious

We saw many other types of shells too. Scallops, penshells, olives, fighting conchs, clam. Matt found a horse conch shell which is the Florida state shell. It still had its bright orange gastropod occupant.Horse Conch shell with gastropod photo by Janine Broscious

There were so many shells most of which still had live critters in them. We did find a few without, but were starting to wish we could find a large empty shell. The tide was at it’s lowest and Ken had explained that a sandbar would become accessible. We tried to hurry over to it, but by the time we got there, many others had been there before us. There were indeed many shells, but every single one of them had already been turned and left because they were live. I wondered what treasures the early birds had found before us. Matt found a big horse conch that had a hermit crab in it and decided to move it for me to take a photo. It slipped from his hand to the sand and when he picked it back up, the crab fell out of the shell. It was not alive. The shell was ours! Horse Conch shell on Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious

After shelling for a couple hours, we decided to get a geocache. There was one close to the Sanibel Lighthouse.Sanibel Lighthouse photo by Janine Broscious

Matt found it quickly. His first geocache of 2016!Matt geocaching photo by Janine Broscious

I decided to look at the beach right at the lighthouse. It was even more cluttered with shells than the other part we had been on. Look at all the fighting conch shells.Shells at Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious

The beach was just covered with stuff and the birds were feasting.Beach on Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious

But it was time to go on. I still wanted to see the shell museum: Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Here I was able to see the elusive junonia shell. Probably the only ones I’ll ever see.Junonia Shells photo by Janine Broscious

And we saw record breaking shells. Matt at the museum photo by Janine Broscious

Lion’s paw shells were another that I would have loved to find on the beach, but at least I saw them at the museum.Lion's paws and angel's wings photo by Janine Broscious

We took a break from the exhibits and went to two different talks they had there. I learned so much about shells and the animals that made them. Really fascinating. I’d highly recommend the museum. After the talks, we saw shell art. Cameos.Cameo photo by Janine Broscious Cameo photo by Janine Broscious

And Sailors ValentinesSailors Valentine photo by Janine Broscious

But it was getting late and we had a two hour drive yet to do. It was time to go back to our camper and see what we had shoved into our bags while on the beach. Here is our haul.Sanibel Shells photo by Janine Broscious

Did I have a great time at Sanibel? Yes! Did it live up to its reputation? It was amazing! Do I want to go again sometime? You bet!!Janine with shells from Sanibel Island photo by Janine Broscious


DIY Shell Frame Project

How many times have you collected beautiful objects during an outing and never do anything with them? After finding so many gorgeous shells last weekend at Gasparilla State Park, Florida, I wanted to make sure that I made a keepsake using them.My shells

I wanted it to be something that I would see often and that would remind me of the lovely time we had at that beach. So, off to the craft store I went. At first, I thought I would glue the shells onto a wooden plaque that would hang on the wall. But you know my love of photos. And Michaels has a perfect wooden frame for $1.00! I knew I had some acrylic paint back in the camper, so all I needed was a sponge brush. After sanding with 220 sand paper, I gave the frame one quick coat of paint.Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

Acrylic craft paint would have been a bit easier to use and less expensive. Lately, I’ve been trying to limit my spending, but I think 50 cents would have been okay to spend on craft paint. Also, in that theme of trying to spend less money, I bought some cheap tacky glue for the project. But after researching projects like this online, I decided that I should use a hot glue gun. Of course, we have about three of them at home, but not one down here in the camper. I asked several neighbors and friends here in the RV park and did not find one. This time Walmart had just what I needed, including satin finish sealer.Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

After the paint dried, I put down a layer of the most flat shells. I wonder if the frame would have looked better with an all white shell bottom layer or all black shells. But I didn’t have enough of just one color so the first layer looked like this.Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

I may still paint the back of the frame with some craft paint. But until I do, I wrote on the back so I won’t forget where the shells came from. Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

The frame looked pretty with just the first layer of shells, but I had lots of shells so I just kept going. I haven’t had much experience with hot glue guns and I’ve come to realize that the ones at home must be low temp. Gee, that was hot! I do have a blister on one of my fingers now. It I ever make another shell frame, I will use tweezers to help place the little shells. Yep, I have a great pair of tweezers at home that I was wishing I had. After 3 hours of gluing, I determined that the frame was finished! I gave it two quick sprays with the sealer. Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

Of course, I had to take it to the beach for a photo.Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

And that photo of Matt and me at the beach, well, I boosted colors and made it look just right to stand out in that colorful frame.Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

Hope this inspires you to make something with your treasures from special events. Happy crafting!Shell Frame Project by Janine Broscious

My Birthday, Creativity and Gasparilla State Park

Some friends tell me that they don’t want to hear about our adventures here in Florida while they are freezing back at home. But I know there are a few that love to look at photos of a warmer place during the winter. Plus, please know that I really just wish you were all down here with me! That said, I had a lovely birthday here in Sarasota. My parents treated Matt and me to the circus. At the circus

The entire show was amazing, but my favorite was watching the Wallendas perform. You may know of Nik Wallenda, the famous tight rope artist that has crossed Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. But he is part of the Flying Wallendas, an incredible family of acrobats.Wallendas

Before the circus started and during the break, videos were shown about the Wallendas including one of them performing a seven-person chair pyramid in 1962. As we watched the video, we saw one of the Wallendas falter and the whole pyramid collapse. Three people died and two were severely injured in this fall since they perform with no nets. These videos certainly had us all prepared to watch this talented family! I must admit, it was thrilling and yet utterly frightening to see them perform the seven-person chair pyramid for us. Nik’s mother, Delilah, is the one standing on the chair. That woman must be at least  in her 50’s! They asked that everyone be quiet while the Wallendas performed the pyramid and I’m sure I held my breath the whole time.The Flying Wallendas seven-person chair pyramid

The circus was a few days before my actual birthday, so my hubby took me out for dinner at Marina Jack’s. Oh, how lovely to watch the sunset over the water, birds fly and dive for fish, and dolphins swimming. And the scallop dinner was scrumptious!Marina Jack's

Most of the time we’ve been here it has been cold and rainy, but last weekend’s weather was finally the kind we came down for. It started out with a lovely sunset on Friday night which included an unusual conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars. Mars is a bit difficult to see in the photo, but it is there just up and to the right of Venus.Conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars

While searching for a new place to ride bikes, I came across Gasparilla State Park. It was an hour drive away, but so worth it!DSC_1182

We have never seen a beach with so many shells.DSC_1187

Matt went out into the water and found this shell. It was still housing a creature, so we threw it back.DSC_1181

I took a break from the treasure hunt on a bed of shells.DSC_1196

We had come here for a bike ride and so far I had been completely distracted by the shells! We did ride for 6 miles and found a geocache at the range light.DSC_1202 DSC_1203

Our trusty bikes waited for us under a palm.Our bikes

We were set to go on an adventure with my folks the next day back to Fort DeSoto. But I was in love with Gasparilla State Park! So the next day, we took Mom, Dad and our friends, Ray and Nita, back to the island. We hadn’t gotten to see the light house, but we did this time.DSC_1219

You know I love lighthouses! Well, even though this one is quite squatty, it still offered a wonderful view.DSC_1211

We all had fun shelling. Here is just a part of my treasure. I’m contemplating what crafty thing to do with them.My shells

And speaking of creativity, I’ve been busy, as usual. There was a craft/art show here in the RV park. My jewelry was well received as well as Matt and Dad’s 3D printed projects.Art show at the RV park

I finished the punch needle owl project. After looking for a frame, I ended up buying a canvas, ribbon and push pins. Instead of a $30 frame, I spent $6 and like it a whole lot better.punch needle project

After deciding NOT to bring my rug hooking materials with me on this trip, that’s all I wanted to do! So, here is a new rug project I’m working on.rug project

Finally, I’ve been loving doing the Bible Art Challenge. What a wonderful way to spend time with God and contemplate his goodness. This one is for John 3:16. I wanted to illustrate that God’s great love for all mankind led to his sacrifice for us.John 3:16

Then we studied I Corinthians 13. Here I focused on the words about true love.Love never ends

I John speaks a lot about love, especially God’s perfect love for us and how we should love each other. I have watched bluebirds and they look out for one another in such a tender way. Perfect love

So, I think we are all caught up! Today, I might make yet another trip to the craft store. I’m filled with ideas for those shells! Hope you all stay warm and happy wherever you are and remember God loves you more than you’ll ever know!  Please leave me a comment! 🙂

Fort DeSoto Park, Florida

Saturday was a sunny day here! And that has been unusual since we’ve had a lot of rain here in Florida. It’s actually pouring now. But Saturday, well that was a gloriously sunny day in the 70’s. Just perfect for exploring a new park. Fort DeSoto Park has a seven mile paved path for biking, so we packed up our beach cruisers and headed out. We needed to cross a fun bridge to get to it, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I shot this quick pic out the window.Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Look how steeply we had to climb to go over it!Sunshine Skyway Bridge, FL

We arrived in the park and immediately headed down to the beach. I’m always hoping to find pretty shells, but usually don’t find much. I’ve heard that the best finds are early in the morning. I never seem to make it to the beach then! I did find these lovelies.shells

I had never been on a beach where there were sand dollar pieces everywhere!Sand dollar pieces

And I found this shell. It was pretty and intact! But alas, someone was living in it. So, I left it.nice shell

I was surprised to see remnants of star fish too. This was an interesting beach!star fish too

We roamed around the fort area.Fort DeSoto

Then looked for some geocaches while riding bikes. I’m always on the look out for birds. This one was a new one for us, the American Oystercatcher. American Oystercatcher

I think these were willets. Their wings are so pretty!Willets

This beautiful egret was handsome in his breeding plumage.Egret

And this osprey decided to fly over with his partially eaten lunch in hand. osprey

Speaking of lunch, here was our lovely view while we ate our picnic.Picnic view

While Matt looked for another geocache, I stalked this butterfly. I forgot to bring my butterfly book, so I can’t identify it. butterfly

Off we rode to do the rest of the path. As we approached the beach, I said, “Hey, these bikes are called beach cruisers and we’ve never ridden them on the beach.” So, on the beach, right next to the water we went. It was fun! But there were many broken shell pieces and so my idea was not a good one. Soon, I heard a strange hissing coming from Matt’s bike. We were two miles away from the truck, but Matt didn’t mind pushing it back.Ooops

We left the park and found a bike shop in St Petersburg to get a new inner tube. I had often heard how lovely the beach was there, so we headed over for an hour.St Pete's Beach

It was a lovely beach and a happening place too. But, Fort DeSoto park was more our speed. I’m sure we’ll be heading back there!Janine at the beach

Flip Flops to Snow Boots: Just Got to Adapt

In a matter of hours, I went from wearing flip flops to snow boots. I know, I know…I won’t get any sympathy from all of you who stayed up north enduring a particularly hard winter. But it got me to thinking about change. It’s one of the few things that you can count upon. I remember a Christian comedian, Mark Lowry, joking about “This too shall pass.” Whatever situation we happen to find ourselves in, we can be sure it will change, whether for the better or for worse. As my dad said, “Everyone is either about to have difficulty, is in a difficult situation, or has just come out on the other side of a hard circumstance.” Life is hard! It’s snow boots after beautiful flip flops!

So, I have a choice. Do I complain or do I find the joy in the moment? It reminded me of trees. Recently, we were at Stump Pass Beach Park in Florida. This park was full of thriving vegetation, but strewn throughout were dead trees. DSC_1184

I tried to find out what happened to these trees. One person said lightening strikes. DSC_1187

But I had a hard time believing that lightening took out so many trees! We did search all around these trees. There was a geocache to find among one of the root systems.DSC_1205

After researching online about the park, I realized that each website mentioned change. Here is what the park brochure says, “The sands of this site are always shifting. Historic maps reveal the altered shapes of the islands over time. The islands’ salt-tolerant vegetation preserves the appearance of the Southwest Florida coast before much of it was changed by development.” DSC_1296 2

So, my theory is that the trees just couldn’t adapt to the change. They must not have been salt tolerant. Even though in a way they are beautiful, I don’t want to be like them. My life now that our sons have grown up seems to be constant change! I used to say I hate change and now I am living it and it seems to involve lots of travel. I remember back in 2003 when we went on a short term missions trip to Brazil, they kept stressing that the main thing to make the trip a good one was to “stay flexible.”

That’s not easy. And I still really struggle with it. Part of me likes to have the sure things in life and to be comfortable. But I’m discovering another part of me… the adventurer! And I can be that slightly more daring lady because I know of one thing in my life that will never change. Jesus. I cling to this wonderful promise “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

So, no matter what, I want to be like the beautiful, green trees that flourish. Even in the snow or in the sun. Whether in flip flops or snow boots.  With Jesus, I can say, “Bring it on!” DSC_0974 2

Ps 1: 2-3 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”  (Read the whole psalm!)

Birding in Florida

I’ve often wondered how a person becomes a birder. Or is it bird enthusiast? Maybe it’s something you inherit. Birding genes. I’m thinking that’s what happened to me. I grew up with pet birds and my mom always fed the birds outside too. We had bird identification books and binoculars right in our breakfast nook.

Well, it’s fun! No matter where we go, Matt and I will often look at each other and say, “I wonder what kind of bird that is?” Recently, we were at the Myakka River State Park and a park volunteer approached us inquiring, “Are you birders?”At first I wasn’t sure how to answer. Did we qualify? Was there a definition somewhere that I should read before I committed to this? “Yes,” I daringly exclaimed.

So, now we are birders. Not very good ones, that’s for sure. We keep trying, but one time we’ll arrive at the birding location with binoculars, but not the camera. Another time the camera and tripod, but not the binoculars. And we keep forgetting our field guide! With all that preface, I’m going to share some of my bird photos anyway. It wouldn’t be a trip to Florida without seeing Great Blue Herons.DSC_4934 2

And watching him as he hunts. It looked like he came up empty. But I did see him swallow.DSC_1165 2

We haven’t see the Little Blue Heron quite as often but here he is.DSC_4990 2

My favorite of the herons is the Louisiana Heron although here in Florida I have only heard him called the Tri-colored Heron. We watched this pretty one for quite awhile. He sat perfectly still then suddenly exploded into action. The reward was a little minnow in it’s beak. Supper!DSC_1149 5

One more heron: the Green Heron.DSC_1127 3

The next birds were quite a surprise. As we walked along in the Celery Fields of Sarasota, we saw flashes of pink. Were there flamingos here? And yet, they didn’t look like flamingos. This was one instance where I wished I had a better lens for bird photography. Of course, the lens you need always seems to be the one you don’t have! These beautiful Roseate Spoonbills were quite a distance from us, but I got this shot.DSC_5021 2

Seems I always catch the Egrets flying.DSC_1112 2

We’ve noticed birds that aren’t water birds too. In fact, Matt usually spots them first. He is so observant! As we walked into church on Sunday, he said, “Is that an eagle on top of that really big flag pole? Or just a statue?” It could have been either. Of course, we didn’t have our binoculars with us. But as we stood there staring at it, another eagle flew up to it and the first left. The new eagle took it’s place with the perfect stance. It was like the changing of the guard! We enjoyed the sight and headed off for church. Afterwards, it was still there! Matt said, “Too bad you don’t have your camera.” But I did! DSC_1077 2

Then he spotted a Red Shouldered Hawk.DSC_1084 2

While at Myakka River State Park, we enjoyed the Bird Walk. A large bird flew over as we approached. We both thought it was a hawk of some kind. It landed in some far away brush and didn’t come out. We could see it’s face though. It was a Marsh Hawk also known as a Harrier.DSC_1044 2

Some birds just amuse me…like Pelicans.DSC_4923 2

And Limpkins. What a name!DSC_1015 2

And these Sandhill Cranes.DSC_5012

Then there is the comical Pied-billed Grebe. it kept diving down into this murky water. Such inquisitive eyes.DSC_1123 2

The Loggerhead Shrike was a new one for us. DSC_1087 2

As well as the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Aptly named, I’d say.Florida 2014

Well, we are keeping a list of new birds for us, so I guess we are birders. But aren’t we all? Who doesn’t love listening to a Mockingbird’s song or chasing beach birds?DSC_0690 2

Or enjoying a beach sunset with little bird friends. Yes, birding in Florida, it’s wonderful, even if you don’t know what you’re doing!DSC_0732 2