For the past week I've been seeing the most amazing pink flowers littering the sidewalk under a group of tall shade trees that Charlie Dog and I pass on our daily rambles.  Their spiky pink extensions are so unusual that I marvelled at how they can look so sharp and yet feel so soft to the touch.  I guess I had never looked up into the tall trees to see them hanging with these whimsical flowers and never noticed the 'bottle brushes' until they started falling to the sidewalk below in a carpet of pink fuzz.
A bit of research tells me that they are Callistemon citrinus and are more commonly known as 'bottle brush' flowers.  Nature really never ceases to amaze me!  Aren't they beautiful?

Is spring popping through in your corner of the world?
Beach-inspired shell, hemp, and bead bracelet.
Every time I end up at the beach I find my attention immediately focused at my feet, scanning the sand for the best bounty of the sea--interesting shells, sea glass, geodes, and bits of coral and pottery.  I am an intent beachcomber and always come home with my pockets full of sandy treasures.  I have jars full of shells and sea glass collected along beaches from Scotland to the Caribbean, and I can pretty much tell you where I found each and every piece.  I'm funny like that.
South Beach, Miami view of Ocean Drive
South Beach was insane last weekend--the 36th annual Art Deco Weekend was on and there was no parking and not much room to move around on the streets, or eve the beach! 

Everyone picked a spot and settled in...
Which was fine for a little while...
But with a view like that, and all that gorgeous turquoise water calling, who could sit still?!
Is there any better feeling than your feet buried in the sand? I doubt it!
I love walking barefoot along the beach, just inside the water line so the waves crash against your legs... it's so refreshing.  This weekend the water was cool and lovely, and the waves were brisk, a wonderful contrast to the sun's healing intensity beating down on my shoulders. 

There were people of every nationality and race all smiling, laughing, and playing like children, and it was a wonderful thing to walk along and drink it all in.  I find that I always feel like a child again when I'm barefoot walking along in the sand--it's okay to splash in the water, collect 'treasures', and chase seashells into the ocean as the tide pulls them back out on the currents.... pure bliss.
There were some wonderful finds...
And as usual I came home with a beach bag full of sand!

It would be so nice to capture that beach feeling and pull it out whenever I feel like it... so I pulled together a few simple materials and made a beach-inspired rustic shell bracelet.
This is so simple--if you have a few shell buttons lying around, you're pretty much set!  These snazzy pink shells are from a Canadian dollar store (my favorite!), the hemp rope is a fine to medium weight for jewelry-making, and the glass beads were from my (excessively vast) bead stash.  Really, this can be made from anything you have in your odds and ends of crafting supplies.
Essentially, the most important thing is to make sure you measure your wrist and figure out how many buttons it will take to create the bracelet (make it a bit loose so it is comfortable on your wrist!).
One strand of the hemp rope is fed through the buttons and beads, and it is knotted with the second strand of hemp rope to create a smooth line with the shell buttons laying nicely side-by-side.
The end loops are slipped over the button at the end of the opposite side of the bracelet, and it's almost unnoticeable when it is on your wrist!
A happy, sunny, colorful homage to a great day out!  And a reminder to be thankful for the joys in life--today in my hometown back in Canada the schools were cancelled due to the -39C temperature outside.  I guess I won't complain about it being a 'cool' 21C here today!
My own natural beeswax lipbalm
Okay... I have written this post and almost finished it THREE times in the last hour... and each time a glitch in the system of my server has deleted the entire post.

So... I am frustrated. 

I love technology, but there are days when I could take my laptop and toss it out the window into the garden.

For that reason, I am going to have a cup of tea and forget about technology for a while.  I have some knitting to work on (for myself this time, yay!), and I'm going to get lost in Downtown Abbey and knitting for a few hours.

I had the recipe and supply links all done up beautifully... but my head is pounding and I just can't do it again with the threat of losing it for time number FOUR. 

The Coles Notes version of the recipe is 1 tablespoon of oil base, 1 tsp of beeswax, 1/4 tsp of carnauba wax, 1/4 tsp of pure vitamin E oil, and 4 lip balm tubes.  Warm the oil in a small metal jug over medium-low heat and then stir in the two waxes, swirling to make them dissolve into the oil.  Remove from heat and stir in the vitamin E oil, and then carefully pour the liquid balm into the tubes.  Let the tubes stand undisturbed for at least half an hour so they set up well.

If anyone needs further instructions, please let me know and I'll send an instruction sheet :-)

Does anyone else have technology meltdown?!