Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Monday, September 8, 2014

Footsteps in the Sand

Canning jars filled with seawater.

Dear Friends,

Not such a long wait between posts this time. First, let me thank KJ for the card, article, and sweet thoughts. Your gardens DO look fabulous. Vicki Boster, your box of tasty delights arrived to great family fanfare. Thank you so much for everything. I don't know how you do all you do.

I just spent a few hours with our new caretaker, walking the gardens, showing him birdbaths, fountains, feeders, getting him into the swing of caring for this old house and my demanding (but worth it) gardens and container plantings.

As I write this, there are suitcases, computers, iPads, and more waiting by the door.

We leave for Maine in just a couple of hours. This won't be our normal long time, but it will be enough time to refill our depleted and tired spirits. Maine. Just saying the word makes me happy.

The perfect reading/bird watching/ dream spot on our little island in Maine.

Where do you turn when things worry you or you aren't feeling peaceful? I make soup, work in the garden, but mostly I walk, walk, walk. A few miles everyday helps to keep my soul happy and my brain receptive and creative. My favorite walks are on starry nights...

... or by day, a walk along the shore, bird watching, finding just the RIGHT rock or shell, or watching the Humpbacks breaching and spy-hopping inside the kelp beds.

This is a short walk with me. At the end of the walk, I am THRILLED to be able to offer a wonderful give-away from Josie Iselin, author, photographer, naturalist, and benefactor of nature. My first offering is the book An Ocean Garden

This Abrams book is gorgeous and full of information–a combo I adore. As I was purchasing this little gem, the other people in line were commenting on its beauty. The two clerks behind the counter also mentioned that it is exquisite. You'll love it, and it will change the way you look at seaweed.

My second give-away is another of Josie's fabulous books, but this is offered only to members of my Grimy Hands Girls' Club. You know who you are. Leave a comment, and you're eligible.

This is a coffee table sized book published by Chronicle Books, noted for their fine work. I love this one and you will too.

Won't you join me as I wander? And look what I'm doing with the treasures I found...

This is a By-the-wind-sailor, a mini jellyfish that has a sail (see shiny spot above). The beaches were filled with thousands of these.

Sometimes I am out on the beach for hours, but I don't walk more than a few feet. Why? I plop down and sift through the incredible rocks and shells. I pick up sand dollars, study feathers...

I feel like a child.

After I read Josie's book, I decided to try my hand at pressing seaweed. So, I grabbed one of my canning jars out of my trunk and wandered along the shore. Soon, I had a jar full of beauty.

Seaweed specimens

Mother Nature's lacework.

I walked along the beach until I found a tide pool full of water, which I collected in some canning jars. (See top photo). I dipped into the pools so as not to collect sand or debris in the water.

When I returned home, I poured the seawater into a long container and gently transferred the seaweeds from the jar to the container.

I toted my wildflower press out of "Sprig," my garden shed and set it outside near my potting bench, and I cut cardboard and thick, absorbent paper to fit inside my press.

I used a spatula to lift the seaweed out of the seawater, drain it, and spread it out on absorbent paper.

Then I used chopstick to gently fan out the seaweed. Note: I labeled where I found the seaweed, but at this point I didn't know WHAT I had found.

It has been a zillion years since I've worn nylons. So what better use for them than for the process of drying the seaweed? I cut these into small squares to stretch onto the top of the seaweed. When I press the seaweed, this will keep it from sticking onto the paper above it.

Seaweed under otherwise useless nylons.

Don't worry, I did smooth this out before pressing.

See the cardboard and paper on the right side? I put it into the press in layers.

This is the seaweed after two days. I change the paper daily to keep moisture away from the specimen. When I am finished with this, I'll mount it on fine rag paper and put it under glass, or maybe under the glass of a coffee table or my tea table. Isn't it elegant?

Ok, so enough of this puttering around and doing EVERYTHING EXCEPT the final touches on our garden and packing. 

I am happy to announce that the winner of the Glady Taber's Stillmeadow Cookbook is:
Donna O'Shaughnessy. Donna has a few active blogs. Check her out at 

Congratulations Donna! We will ship this out to you upon returning to California. Just in time for you to do some wonderful, old-fashioned autumn recipes.

Farewell to you all and love across the miles,


P.S. For those of you who live along the Central Coast of California (or the valley), please know that you are invited to my book launch party on November the 9th (Sunday) from 2 to 4 P.M. in the heirloom gardens of the old Dallidet Adobe on Toro Street in San Luis Obispo, California. All book sales will benefit the gardens of the Dallidet. It is my hope that we will earn enough money to reconstruct the once magnificent arbor leading up the front pathway to the porch. We'll have food, music by Simple Pleasures (Mary Anne and Ames Anderson), drink, joy, and a short, short talk about publishing and its many pitfalls and adventures. Come join me in celebration of my debut middle grade novel Running Out of Night (Delacorte Press, the literary imprint of Penguin-Random House). Hurrah!

This pathway deserves a new arbor to lead the way to the old adobe.


Pom Pom said...

Have a wonderful time in Maine! I just read an old book titled, We Took to the Woods. A writer (former English teacher) marries a guy who lives in the woods and she describes the Maine woods in all their glory. It was interesting!
I've only been to Maine once (Bar Harbor) and I loved it VERY much! Those views are glorious!
Take care. Rest and regroup!
Yay for your book coming! xo

Sharon Calvert said...

Hi, Sharon ... Maine sounds wonderful this time of year; wishing you safe travels and a restorative visit. Your two giveaway selections look intriguing, and either one would be a welcome addition for beach-combing our southern Alabama shores. Your seaweed pressing looks fun; just might have to try it with the grandkids! Thanks always for sharing.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Sharon, I love the seaweed you pressed! It is going to be GORGEOUS mounted!

Those books certainly seem like wonderful treasures, too. I love the sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It makes my heart happy.

Hats off to you foryour philanthropic spirit!

Sending you hugs up the coast and hoping you enjoy your time in Maine. What a wonderful place!


Sheila :-)

Terri said...

Hi Sharon! I don't have a blog, but I am subscribed to your blog! Lovely books! I adore what you did with the Seaweed! And, I have never done that! Would love to win the Ocean Gardens Book! It seems I have much to learn about Seaweed! When I was young, a long time ago, I tried to bring home some Seaweed from the Beach! But, it stunk up my Dads car and he threw it out at a gas station!

Teri said...

I can't wait to see the final product when you get finished. I'm so happy that I am a member of the club. Hope I win.

taylorsoutback said...

We have just returned from almost 8 weeks on the road to and from Alaska - no touristy type souvenirs brought back. Instead precious rocks collected from the many shorelines and mountain paths we walked along. Each one will be added to the gardens along with sweet memories.
I wish you a safe journey, gentle winds and the sound of waves lulling you into a restful comfort zone.
Fabulous seaweed - looks like lace.

Pondside said...

Your happiness in anticipation of the trip to Maine gleams from the screen. I get it!....once a Bluenoser, always a Bluenoser :)and that's what I am!
Your pressed seaweed is, indeed, elegant - the perfect word for it.

Deborah OBrien said...

I am feeling blissfully calm this morning, so many gentle threads to read, and this one sings close to my heart with the ocean. I can hear the waves gently swooshing to shore as I go rock pooling with you in search of treasures. I especially love the photograph of the seaweed {the one under An Ocean Garden book with the glorious orange cover}. Enjoy your trip to Maine
p.s. as a child, I often brought seaweed home for my 'collection' ~ much to the chagrin of my dear Mum!

La Table De Nana said...

My favorite place to walk is in the woods or along a beach.
I gather treasures.. and wash them when I get in.
I have never thought of pressing sea gardens..
Great idea..
Enjoy Maine:)

Julie Marie said...

Hello dear cousin... what a lovely post!... I am drawn to the sea also, and miss being there in a long time... I hope you have a wonderfully relaxing time in your beautiful Maine... I can hardly wait to hear about your reunion with Audrey!... our little squirrels told me they got a message to her that you were coming!... congratulations to your winner of the Gladys Taber book... such a fabulous read... please exempt me from your new giveaways... and good luck to everyone else!... your photos are so pretty and I love hearing about where you go to relax is walking... me too... our daily Nature walk just melts all my cares away as we admire all of God's beauty around us and chat with the little critters along the way... wishing you blissful days by the sea... much love, xoxo Julie Marie

Bonnie K said...

Wow I'm impressed with the press!

Lorrie said...

Walking along a beach provides endless entertainment, even if one walks only a few feet. I find my head always down looking for interesting bits and pieces.
Love the idea of pressing sea weed and framing it.
Enjoy your time in Maine!

moonharvest101 said...


I love your blue patio table, where ever did you find it?

Lori in Indiana said...

Hello Sharon. The seaweed looks amazing! Nature gives us wonderful gifts of beauty. Enjoy Maine!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Lori,

Good to hear from you and have told so many of your donuts for the kids. They must've loved it and the words about the donut hole.

As soon as book comes I will mail a signed copy to your wonderful class (and you).

Hope you are well and happy,


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Moonharvest,

Jeff stained it with a blue stain. We got it on close out from what was once called Pacific Home Improvement Center. Wish they hadn't sold the bench from the other side. Anyhow, it is very heavy and well made (but I don't know where, there were no tags), and it is useful AND lovely.


The Schragl's said...

Sharon! I have never thought of pressing seaweed! I too love its different shapes and textures. Have a beautiful time in Maine!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon, by this time you are in Maine.....and we are headed down to our little trailer that we keep in Pismo ocean on the mind....collecting sand dollars and small shells and taking in the peace and peaceful. Your giveaway books fit right in :)

Farm Girl said...

What a lovely book on Seaweed. My goodness. I can tell it is one I need for my collection.
I think Maine sounds lovely and it is a place I would love to visit. I hope it helps you to rest. I remember reading in one of your books about the glow worms popping up from the ground. I was enchanted.
I will put this on my calendar, November is a lovely time at the beach.
I would love to see you in person.
Have a very restful time at your retreat in Maine. So glad you aren't here in the valley today. It is 106 right now.

sue - seedlady said...

have a glorious time in Maine: I'll visit the beach at Oso Flaco for you!

Anonymous said...

Seaweed pressing - who'd-a-thunk-it. This is why you're an artist. It's incredibly beautiful.
Jennie Brooks

kj said...

now how did i fail to leave a comment for this fine post? maybe the doorbell rang as i began to think of what i do to calm down.

i turn to the sea. or the garden. the sky. the zinnias. the smell of grass. birds. words.

i say my favorite two word prayer: " thank you."

as i write this you are now in maine. i hope the air is filling your innards, ms. sharon honey lovejoy.


Anonymous said...

Thoreau eat your heart out. What a beautiful and meditative document of your time in Maine, and of the incorporation of several titles that extend the experience in glorious collaboration. This is the ideal setting for creative inspiration, a fact you obviously know well. Just so lovely.

-Sam Juliano

PDarway said...

I am so happy to have found your site & Blog. I live on the central coast in AG. recently I was with a charming group of ladies in Adamstown, PA. and was asked by Thea McGiniss if I knew of you. I felt a little remiss in my local literary obligation by saying "no". I plan in the future to remedy this. Thank you for you great Blogs, which I will continue to follow! I too love our local beaches & was fascinated by your drying seaweed.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi P Darway,

What a small and amazing world we have. I love Adamstown and need to return there soon.

What group was it? I adore Thea, but have yet to meet her in person.

I will extend to you an invitation to come to my book launch party at the Steynberg Gallery on Monterey St. (down Splash Cafe on California) on November 9th from 2 to 4 P.M. Refreshments, music, fun, and all proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the historic Dallidet Adobe gardens.

All joys to you and glad we connected.