Bringing Jersey home with me

In 2008 my family had the amazing opportunity to move to New Jersey for a year.


I LOVE New Jersey. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything in the world.

I was happy to move back “home” to Texas at the end of that year, but I will forever have a warm spot in my heart for Long Branch, NJ.


We lived right on the beach. Like, literally, a football field away from the shore. Our apartment was on the 4th floor of a complex that had businesses on the bottom and apartments on the top. All of our windows faced the ocean and it was just a breathtaking view.


In that year we traveled almost every weekend. As much as we could physically cram into each weekend. I have toured most of the East Coast and been to Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Deleware, DC, and Virginia. We lived about an hour and 10 minutes from The City (New York City) via NJ Transit. (I love love love NYC!).

Although the water was often too cold to get into, we loved going to the beach. I don’t think I’ll ever like Texas beaches as much as I use to now that I’ve been to the east coast.


New Jersey has a bad rap as being the “Armpit of America” (and in some places rightfully so!) but where we lived was beautiful and absolutely amazing.


We spent lots of time at the shore over the summer. The Spring and Fall were much to chilly to go to the shore, so from June to August everyone and I mean EVERYONE – Benny’s included, would pack up and head to the beach!


I am not generally an overly sentimental person. I don’t save ticket stubs or playbills. I don’t collect anything. But I knew my time in New Jersey was limited and I wanted to remember those moments forever.


When I think of New Jersey, I think of the SHORE. (Not the BEACH! 🙂 ) I knew exactly what I wanted to bring home with me that would make me smile with my memories every time I looked at it.

I decided I’d bring the shore home with me.

One day before we moved away the kids and I took a stroll down our beach and collected sand and shells. I put all my sand in a large zip-lock where it has sat for the past two years.

(I’m sure it harbors bacteria, but whatevs…!)

I also collected a decent amount of shells that I washed really well and then placed in a glass jar that I had.


I’ve never loved the presentation of my NJ shells, but for a long time I didn’t know what else to do with them.


I copied my dear friend Emily over at Decor Chick by making a few of her Dollar Store Hurricanes. Well, actually I did it the super lazy way and have never properly attached the bases to the vases.

I filled each of the vases with sand and my shell collection.





For now they are sitting on top of my piano – mainly because the piano is pretty much one of the only flat surfaces I currently have. (I seriously need to buy some buffets, dressers, book shelves, and an entire bedroom suite for myself.)


When I put them on top of the piano I just set two of them on top of the glass candle sticks. Maybe eventually I’ll actually glue them together.

Another awesome thing about this piano room is that it literally is THE WORST lit room in the entire house. I could not get a decent picture in here if my life depended on it.


I like the way this display works so much better than the zip lock I had before, but I really love the hurricanes and am not sure I want to use them permanently for this display. Either I’m going to go purchase more vases and candle sticks, or I may end up changing my shell display again in the future.

I’m just glad I’ve finally got them displayed though! Whenever I look at them, I smile and think of this:


What a fun ride we had!

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  1. Aww thanks Allison! They look great, and even better they are sentimental hurricanes. Looks great!

  2. They look great! I just bought some apothecary jars to do this same thing. I grew up in Maine but I now live in Utah- very far from the ocean. I’ve had a collection of shells and sea glass sitting in a box since I moved out here-12 years ago! I’m excited to finally have them out where I can see them and be reminded of my childhood growing up on the east coast. I’m glad you have a reminder too iof your time spent back that way. -Can’t take the east coast out of a girl!

  3. Thanks for the memories. I too grew up in Lebanon New Jersey, and now live in Missouri. We were just back there for my dh class reuion. Enjoyed the pizza, sea food and farm land. (It is the Garden State).
    Thanks again.

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed living in NJ! I live in NJ and it’s so different than people’s perceptions of it. It really is a nice place and I love how close it is to the beaches, mountains, and many great cities.

  5. Another “Jersey Girl” here (from Down the Shore!)….I’m so glad you have fond memories of this state. There’s no place like it in my opinion. Thanks for writing about it so fondly! Perhaps to change the minds of those who think of it as the armpit!

  6. I love this idea! We just got back from a vacation in Ocean City, NJ, and it was fantastic!!!

  7. I native NJ girl, from very close to where you lived, even went to Monmouth University. All I can say is the traffic, rude people, and crowds get to you in time. I am prepping to see the family this weekend, and am putting on my battle gear as we speak …

  8. I love how the mussles look all together. Great way to capture and remember a wonderful opportunity.

  9. Mary Walker says:

    That’s really cool! You could get that picture of Kensie in B&W and add it to your display. I think it would look nice.

  10. I think those are beautiful! I’m gonna have to make one of those for my beach-themed bathroom!! Thanks for sharing some of your memories from the shore!

  11. What a sweet and unique way to capture a special place you’ve lived. I love it! Being an Army Wife i can relate because I always try to capture places we’ve lived. Glad I happened upon your blog!

  12. You forgot to mention the time Kinsey threw a meatball off our balcony, hit a lady in the head who was window shopping, and the cops showed up.

  13. Nice memory jars!

  14. Cute! Thanks for linking up to Mad Skills Monday!

  15. Such a great idea! I thought I was the only one who “made” these without actually gluing them!

    Stop by my site at

  16. Darling! I just made these myself. Love your idea of putting memories in them, I think I’ll try that 🙂

  17. I love that this is more than just a display – it’s a memory keeper!! : )

  18. Have you tried Museum Tac? It’s a squishy putty they use in art galleries to stick sculptures to tables so you can’t pick them up/move them around. I use it to stick some china bowls to a shelf so little hands don’t bump them off. It’s not permanent so you can separate the hurricane from the candlestick for your next project.

  19. We are so glad you joined us for Anything Related! Come back tomorrow for another great party!

  20. eileen@Cottage Beach House says:

    Thanks for such a nice shout out to New Jersey!
    I love, love, love the shore here. I am much more south of where you were, right before Cape May, NJ. Long Branch is a pretty town. This State does have one of the greatest shorelines. The water reached 78( very unusual) these past few days, just incredibly clear and gorgeous. Your hurricanes are adorable. Thanks for passing that trick on.

  21. How pretty! My husband and I just moved from Texas to New Jersey in March. Unfortunately, we aren’t having as much fun. We’re in South Jersey. But, we did make it to the shore one weekend and it was really nice.

  22. aw i loved this post. im a jersey girl. im from nj but have sinced moved away and miss it so much. so glad to hear something positive written about nj! other than all the bad press it gets in the media!

  23. I recently got married on the Alabama gulf coast(post-BP) and I made centerpeices with hurricanes and sand and shells from the shore! I made two and brought one home with me and my mom took one home! I love the AL gulf coast…it should be my second home, so your post gave me chills thinking about the wonderful memories my hurricanes will bring me for years to come!

  24. Can I tell you how much I LOVE this idea! Stop over at my blog to see how I used it.

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