Seashells and Summer Memories

We all do it; pick up a pretty shell at the beach and take it home to remember the magical time at the beach. Unfortunately, once we have the seashell at home, we’re puzzled about what to do with it.

My friend, Sandy Bassett arranges her shells, some sand, a candle, and other beach artifacts in a pretty, clear glass bowl. It looks fabulous on a table or shelf. I’ve built a webpage to show off her method of decorating your home with seashells. I’ve also included other crafty ideas.

Below is a variation on Sandy’s idea.

seashell pixabay window

Check them out and you’ll be pulling those seashells out of the drawer or the shoebox where they’re stashed. One of the most popular ideas on the webpage is filling the clear-glass base of a lamp with shells.

Glass Canister Small Fillable Accent LampGlass Canister Small Fillable Accent LampView DetailsWood & Glass Fillable Uplight - Threshold™Wood & Glass Fillable Uplight – Threshold™View DetailsDeco Glass Fillable Table LampDeco Glass Fillable Table LampView Details

Everytime you see your seashells on display, you capture that summer on the beach moment one more time.


The Civil War Starts on July 4th

Image may contain: 2 people, text
Miriam B. – I’ve got the potatoes!
Marianne C. – I’m in, I’ll bring the hot dogs

Jane B. – I’ll bring chips . . .

Amy H. –  Count me in for potato salad for 1 million, LOL

Jeff M. – Can’t make it. I’m still recovering from the wounds I received in the war on Christmas.

Ingrid E. – Curried Shrimp and GRITS 🦐
Marilyn S. O. – Bringing cupcakes!!
Tom B. – is it dolphin-safe tuna?

Karen B. – Dang, my mother already invited me over for burgers on the grill.

Paula R. –  I’m only giving Alex a sparkler

Flor F. – I’ll bring the cups

Elizabeth L. –  I make a killer cheesecake. Let’s see, it will take at least 50,000 to feed the crowd. 40 ounces of cream cheese x 50,000 = 2,000,000. That’s 250,000 bricks of cream cheese. Could build a wall with that many!

Marilyn S. O. – Dont tell Trump before I buy stock in Philadelphia cream cheese!!

watermelon pixabay
How many watermelons do you need for 35 million people? (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Dinah R. – Could I have some volunteers to crank the ice cream makers? I’ve got a great recipe for vanilla!

Nina D. G. – Please, nothing with mayonnaise, you much danger of food poisoning in this Chicago heat!

Esther S. –  You would think even his most stupid followers would find this beyond their belief range…but then again, probably not.

ISii L. M. – I’m setting up a water stand in Texas wars are a lot of energy and its 100 degrees…..stay hydrated!!!!
Virginia Allain
Virginia Allain – I’ll bring some deviled eggs.
(The last names have been redacted in case the Trump administration is taking names for retribution)

More funny reactions to 4th of July Civil War here:

Stars and Stripes

The 4th of July is Wednesday and I’ve heard people saying that they don’t feel very patriotic this year.  I pondered this, as the thought of enjoying a fireworks display or preparing a festive summer picnic doesn’t seem like an appropriate celebration of America’s birthday when there are children in cages.

mexican child in cage fireworks

Then I thought, I’m not letting conservatives annex the holiday with their nationalistic “America First” and then use it to shame the rest of us because we don’t have a flag in our yard.

I put my red, white, and blue bunting on the back deck railing and put out a patriotic-themed garden flag. My front flower bed is decked with a stars and stripes pinwheel spinning merrily in the wind.

As I placed these in our yard, I thought of my colonial ancestors who struggled for American independence. I thought of the many nationalities that melded together on my family tree to produce me. That diverse ancestry is something I take pride in.

I need a flag with the message below on it. Then no one will mistake my patriotic display for support of the dictator-wannabe who is trying to dismantle our system of checks and balances and undermine the Constitution.

I could place it below the row of flag pennants fluttering from the porch railing.

My heart is heavy for the state of our country and for the racism that has bubbled to the surface. Perhaps it is good to know how we really stand and who we can rely on to march shoulder-to-shoulder with us for justice and equality for all.


Repairing the World

My friend and I share similar political views. In this essay (part of an upcoming book) she explains that in these stressful times, it is important to seek your highest self.

There Goes My Heart

The following is the first essay in my upcoming second book of essays, Tikkun Olam: Living Kind in an Unkind World. Look for it on Amazon soon!

The Shabbat prayer book in our synagogue includes the following meditation: “I harbor within—we all do—a vision of my highest self, a dream of what I could and should become. May I pursue this vision, labor to make real my dream.”

Melting glaciers and rising seas. The threat of nuclear war. The uptick of racist and xenophobic acts. Despite or maybe because of the current state of our world, it is more critical than ever for me to find “my highest self.” I am determined to use my moral compass to point me in a direction that follows my values and helps create change for the better for others.

Until recently, I did not consider myself an activist. I was—admittedly—marginally involved in…

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The American System Is Under Attack

Many times on Facebook, the discussion is rancorous and fragmented. I found an insightful post by Jeff Prusi in the group, The Talk on Main Street. He gave me permission to share it here.

Jeff Prusi wrote,

It is not just this president or just this administration, it is the Republican party in general. They built Trump. Brick by brick. Stone by stone. Policy by policy. They enable him to this day. They aid and abet his criminal activities day by day. He and way too many of them attack our institutions every day.

  • Our education system is under attack.
  • Freedom of the press is under attack.
  • An independent judiciary is under attack.
  • Our National Intelligence and Security Agencies are under attack.
  • The independence of our Department of Justice is under attack.
  • Our national electoral process is under attack and this administration and this Republican-controlled Congress do nothing except attack those who are trying to find out the truth and fix the problem.

The only thing #45IsIllegitimate had right during the campaign (and since) is that the election was “rigged”. It WAS rigged, just not as he implied. Extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, and Crosscheck Purging, if YOUR party has to use these unAmerican tactics what does it say about YOUR party and their agenda? If YOU support these unAmerican tactics what does it say about YOU.

Today’s Republican Party has become the party of lies, fear, and hate. Today’s Republican Party is ‘A Clear and Present Danger’ to our country and our way of life. Period.”

What Can You Do? Let’s Take Action!

Join your local Indivisible group and/or sign up with SwingLeft. Just put in your zip code and it will give you information about activities you can participate in to make a difference.

slavery what would you do


Swans on Lake Eola

While attending the 2017 and 2018 Women’s rallies in Orlando, I admired the swans and the swan boats on Lake Eola. The events inspired me to form a women’s action network in our senior community. The swans inspired me to name the group, SWANS (Solivita Women’s Action Network).

Then at the 2018 March for Our Lives rally for gun safety, I took these photos. A bus was hired by a school safety/anti-assault rifle group that one of our SWANS started. That made it possible for 56 people from Solivita to attend the rally and march.

Lake Eola and the rainbow amphitheater (photo by Virginia Allain)
Lake Eola. Note the rainbow amphitheater that was painted after the Pulse Nightclub shootings. (photo by Virginia Allain)

It was a sunny day in Orlando and as you see above, people were enjoying the park, taking photos, and soaking up the sunshine. At the same time, thousands of people gathered at the other end of the park to hear speakers talk about school safety and placing controls on assault rifles. It was just a short time after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 13, 2018.

swans at lake eola, Orlando photo by Virginia Allain
Swans and fountain at Lake Eola, Orlando (photo by Virginia Allain)
Swans at Lake Eola, Orlando (photo by Virginia Allain))
Swans at Lake Eola, Orlando with the city skyline in the background. (photo by Virginia Allain)

The swans were lovely, there were palm trees, and the sun was shining. For contrast, I hope the next picture shocks you. I hope this earnest student and her creative sign make you think about what steps are needed to provide more gun safety and prevent future mass shootings, not just in Florida schools, but all across our country in public places like concerts and nightclubs and other places that people gather.

You can read more about that day and see my rally photos here.

march for our lives gun safety
A sign that cries out for change. Orlando rally 2018 – March for Our Lives. (photo by Virginia Allain)

Where Are the A to Z Posts?

I have a number of blogs and each year choose one for the A to Z Blog Challenge. If you’re looking for that one to see what I’ve been doing, it’s the All About Toni Dolls blog this year.

The graphic below shows some of the recent posts there. Unfortunately, I missed 2 letters so far as I was traveling. I might make those up in May. For now, you can go to All About Toni Dolls to see the ones shown below.

Blog Posts list ‹ All about Toni Dolls — WordPress com

Maybe these will bring back memories of your favorite doll from childhood or give you ideas for making some doll outfits with your child or grandchild. Thanks for dropping by.

In previous years, I took the A to Z Blog Challenge using my mother’s memory blog, Discovering Mom. Here’s the links/list for the 2017 A to Z posts. The first year that I participated was 2014. Here’s my very first one, A is for Accident.