Monday, November 23, 2009

Shoppe Around the Corner

Have you ever walked into a retail establishment and felt you were at home? Well that's what happened to me the first time I walked into Shoppe Around the Corner, a delightful gift shop in Historic downtown Palm Harbor. Now, I am not talking about that Norman Rockwell kind of hominess, I am talking about finding a store where almost everything item is something you would personally choose, if money was no object...HOME!

Right now, this wonderful shop(pe) is dressed up for the holidays...a true feast for the eyes...and believe it or not, it's already been raided by those earlybirds who know that they will find unique gifts and Christmas decor within the walls of this little store. According to Deborah, the shop's manager and decorator, this little white tree was completely filled a with Christmas treasures from the sea just a week ago. Those ornaments which are still hanging are uniquely decorated sea-life. We, who have discovered The Shoppe Around the Corner return time and again, not only for the beautiful items in the store, but for the warmth and care extended by all who work there.

Now...if these photos and the commentary aren't enough enticement for you to visit, perhaps you will be intrigued by this link... The Shoppe Around the Corner is a not-for-profit establishment, with all the proceeds going to the Neighborly Care Network, a health and wellness program for seniors and their families. These services include Meals on Wheels and a pharmacy for seniors and their families in our community. When you purchase a gift for a loved one or a treat for yourself, you are giving TWICE!

IF you are one of our "locals"...or if you are visiting the Tampa Bay area of Florida, please stop by The Shoppe Around the Corner, in the charming downtown area of Palm Harbor, and be sure to tell Deborah that you read about the shoppe here...on the blog. I guarantee you will not walk out empty-handed...or without a mind filled with decorating ideas.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanks, once again, Susan at A Southern Daydreamer, for hosting Outdoor Wednesday. Be sure to take the time to visit all those who have posted outdoor photos and stories. There is so much to see!

Driving home from Mt. Dora, FL, my sister and I pulled over on the side of Lake Dora to watch this spectacular sky. There was a cold front coming in and storm clouds were beginning to make their presence known...
Notice the thunderhead building? By evening, we had our first rain from the incoming front.Interestingly, this front took its own sweet time to come through... And the threatening skies blew out without flooding us (the weather reports were incorrect...again!). The cooler breezes did come in and we pulled out our sweaters... Yippee!

Mt. Dora is the picturesque town on the shores of Lake Dora (part of the chain of lakes about which I have written previously written.) There are wonderful shops, B&Bs, and restaurants all over this little town. If you are a reader of my blog, you will remember this is where Julianne's Coastal Cottage is sister's shop. Throughout the year, Mt. Dora hosts craft fairs, art fairs, and the Renninger's Antique Extravaganza. When these events take place, this sleepy little town swells with 250,000-300,000 visitors. It's worth the trip!!! Mt. Dora is only about 45 minutes from Orlando, and a wonderful stop when visiting Central Florida.

For those who are in the area, this is the weekend of Renninger's Antique Extravaganza.
If you go, please be sure to stop in town and visit Julianne's Coastal Cottage. (And for a great grilled cheese and bacon sandwich, stop by Chew Chew Express Sandwich Depot... the bread is incredible!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009 the Sea

I just returned from a quick retreat (for me!) in Hollywood, FL. Mac Daddy had a conference to attend last I went along for the ride. And boy am I glad I did!!!

We stayed at the Westin of our favorite properties along the south Florida coast...just north of Miami Beach and just south of Ft. Lauderdale. This impressive property has changed since our last visit...there's a BEACH again. (The beach had been totally washed away by a hurricane on our last visit. )

What did I do for 3 days? Absolutely nothing!!! .........unless you count reading, napping (on the wonderful "Heavenly Bed"), sketching, and photographing the property as activities. I was a "lotus eater". And it felt good! (Poor Mac Daddy was "on" from 7am until midnight each day...I hardly saw him.)

Here are a few images of the hotel property...and some of the images I sketched.

This is one of the floral displays in the's a cypress branch, about 12 feet long, with bromeliads and orchids wired onto the trunk. Spanish moss filled in the gaps. These trunks were "planted" into very large urns. They were spectacular! (I want to copy this planting for my lanai.)

Thanks to a reclaimed beach project, there was now a beach at the resort. Although narrow, there was room for the kids' club activities, a lifeguard hut, a couple of rows of chaises, and room for a long stroll up and down the coast. I especially loved the giant checkerboard! Alongside the checkerboard were children digging deep holes (heading to China?) and building castles in the sand...all under the watchful eyes of chaperons provided by the hotel.

My favorite spot was in the shade of the beach-side restaurant. (I am very careful with my fair skin...year round!) Early November is a quiet time of year for Florida tourism, so there were few people to crowd the tables....and the wait-staff was kind enough to allow me to sit and sketch...and read under the shade of the umbrellas. I did, however, have an interesting companion for lunch. He did not talk much, but carried on a lovely tune throughout my meal. Do you think he was trying to sing for his supper?

This is the view from my (our) table...AHHHHHH......
Maybe one day you will see a painting of this view.
It certainly was calming..........

The Diplomat features 2 levels of pools...the upper pool has a gradual entry, perfect for children, and those who do not handle steps well...even wheelchairs are allowed. In the center of this pool is a large round circle...a window to the pool below on the lower level. So cool!

(the above photo is from the Westin Diplomat website. Note the crescent of a pool at the top left...that is the corner of the lower pool...a large, freeform structure.)

This property is a wonderful destination...especially in the fall or the spring...before and after the tourist season.

On our journey home to the west coast, we stopped at our favorite restaurant on the beach in Lauderdale By The Sea (Fort Lauderdale)...Sea Watch. (You might enjoy the photos on the website...beautiful!). This restaurant is nestled between tall sea grapes, sand dunes, palms and the crashing waves of the Atlantic. On our last visit, we had a bright green iguana sitting on the palm beside our open window....and we have watched the skies change as a hurricane made its way to the coast. Incredible! (We always ask to sit on the enclosed porch, where the sea breeze and ocean sounds glide through open windows.)

As we meandered up the coast, we were in awe of the gorgeous ocean views and the incredible mansions along the way to Palm Beach. It was quite sad, though, to see all the FOR SALE signs.

(This photo was taken through the window of our moving car. The house is probably around 10,000 sq. ft. and it backs up to the Atlantic. Just one of many compounds along the coast to Palm Beach.)

It was a lovely respite to our busy lives...just wish my husband could have had some time to relax a bit. At least we had the drive to and from Hollywood to chat and enjoy being together...

Just a quick note.... Maya is having a Tabletop Giveaway...featuring Outer Banks Trading of my favorite businesses. Be sure to stop in and sign up. (or at least look at the OBX website. There are so many wonderful items on these pages!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Honest Scrap...10 Things I Hate/Love/Share About Me

This week I have been Honestly Scrapped by Bama Belle to share 10 Things About Me. This is a rather difficult task, since I am charged to reveal "the real" me. And there are parts of me that I tend to keep to myself or only share with really close family and friends.

Here are the rules for the award:

1)You must thank the person who gave the award and list their blog and link it.

2) You must share "10 Honest Things" about yourself.

3) You have to present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.

4) Last, you must tell those 7 people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving the award

I want to thank Bama Belle at the Blog Plantation for this award. Bama Belle has encouraged me with her Christian walk and her love of family. Her posts reflect her southern-ness...something I can truly relate to. There is always a sense of graciousness in her blog posts. Thanks BB for thinking of me.

So my 10 honest things:

1. I am first and foremost a Christian. I often struggle with my walk...there are so many distractions...but I persevere. I understand that I am a work in progress. I KNOW that through the blood of Jesus Christ, I am saved and I will be with him in heaven. Although I am not teaching Bible studies at the present time, this is something I truly love. The more I teach, the more I learn.

2. I love my family! My husband is my closest and dearest friend. And each of my boys are truly special men. The women in their lives are wonderful additions to our family. Nothing makes me happier than to have all of them together at the same time. Our family meals last hours...with all the banter, the deep discussions, the love of being together. I wish this could happen more often....

3. I love cooking...but not cleaning up. (I really hate unloading the dishwasher!) It would be wonderful to have a staff (even just one) to do the clean-up! Experimenting with food is so much fun!!! Except when I am baking, I rarely follow recipes...and I don't even know what measuring means. Of course that means it's difficult for me to repeat a recipe...or share it. And I love to entertain. It's the perfect opportunity to try new and interesting foods. Thankfully our friends are under the impression that anything I prepare is going to be wonderful. Then again...the pressure!

4. I love to create...whether it is through writing, painting, crafting, tablescaping, etc. And I love to share this passion with others. I get easily bored with one single medium, and usually have multiple projects going at the same time. (Yep, I am ADD.)

5. I am a political junkie! I watch news shows, read political blogs and news articles, call my representatives and senators, write letters, send emails, and get involved in campaigns for those candidates I believe in. I am proud to be an American and will do everything I can to preserve and uphold our Constitution.

6. I love the beach! There is nothing I enjoy more than walking on the beach and searching for shells...especially with my husband and my dog. My favorite beach is Crescent Beach...near St. Augustine. But most any beach will do. As long as there is the tang of salt in the air, the froth of waves, and the sound of water and birds, I am content.

7. Friendship is sacred to me. I have many, many friendly acquaintances, but TRUE FRIENDs are numbered on my hands. These are loved ones who you may not see or hear from for many years, but when you finally get together, the years melt away and it's like you just pick up where you left off. These are people you can truly count on...who will change plans to be there when you are hurting or need to talk... or celebrate. People who love you in spite of your warts...who you love in spite of their warts. They are people I "do life" with. And I treasure them.

8. I am a southern girl...can't leave the house without applying lipstick and mascara, wearing earrings, and dressing well...even to run to the drugstore! Truthfully, I have relaxed a bit...and I now wear jeans (I did not do this until my mid-thirties, though...except for riding horses.), but they have to be really nice ones. And since moving to the coast, I seem to live in sandals...even in winter. Maybe I'm a "Florida" southern girl...

9. I LOVE Auburn football. When my husband was in college at AU, I would visit almost every weekend (without telling my parents I was leaving campus -Shhhh, don't tell them!)...from Macon, GA (Mercer Univ) and Tallahassee, FL (FSU). I even arranged with my FSU professors to miss my classes, do extra work, and even attend special events in my field at AU so I could spend one final football season at AU before my DH graduated. It was so much fun!

10. I love coffee! My husband says that I can identify beans and where they're grown, almost as well as I can discern the notes of good wine (which I don't particularly enjoy!). I do not like fancy drinks like caramel machiatas with shots of vanilla, and whipped cream and sprinkles...YUK! Just give me a good cup of coffee with a little cream or milk...or a cafe con leche/ cafe au lait...with that little touch of chicory. Yum!

Now to pass on this award...and hopefully we will learn more about each other. Each of these bloggers have enriched my life...I have learned from each of them. And I always look forward to reading their blogs and reading their encouraging comments.

1. Becky @ Lace and Lures
2. Sheila @ The Quintessential Magpie
3. Maria @ Color Me Happy
4. Bill @ Affordable Accoutrements
5. Lisa @ Moore Minutes
6. jmac @
7. Maria@ Personalized Sketches and Sentiments

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We Have a New Baby...Dog

Look what greeted us when we returned from Alabama...
This is my new "grand-dog", Hannah May. Hannah is a Blue Heeler/Lab mix. She's about 10 weeks old. Isn't she darling!!! (A Blue Heeler is an Australian Cattle Dog.) She is the "child" of Drummer Boy and Mrs. DB and "sister" to Hurley, the black and white Boston Terrier/Beagle mix. Hannah will be about 40 pounds. (That's hard to imagine!!!)

Rowdy (the sweet-faced boy in the photo to the right) and Hurley have accepted Hannah with open paws. (I have caught Hannah tugging on Rowdy's bushy tail...and all Rowdy Boy does is lift his head, glare at her, then wearily puts his head back down, as if he's saying..."Here we go again!"

You cannot see it here, but Hannah has a black circle aroung her left eye. She is quite intelligent and shows signs of being VERY active! Thankfully, she seems to be a follower. That will help with Hurley, the Alpha female. It's already obvious that she is going to be a charmer.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Finally Saw Fall...

I finally saw my first fall leaves!!!

This past weekend we took a quick trip to Atlanta to visit G-ma Mac and to celebrate her 76th birthday at our favorite Italian restaurant, Ippolito's. All along the route from PH into Georgia, we saw hints of fall...and even a few trees filled with colored leaves. However, entering Atlanta, there was a riot of color in all directions! It was least to these Florida Cracker eyes. I was in heaven!!! (Yeah, I know...the peak was already over, but it was beautiful to me!) My family definitely was OVER my rhapsodizing about the leaves...

After a wonderful meal at Ipps, complete with birthday gifts and festivities, we headed southwest in preparation for our early morning departure for Auburn, AL... our ultimate destination. We were heading to the AU/Ole'Miss football game. What fun!!! Not only did my husband and I go on this trip, we took DB (Drummer Boy) and his wife, and WG (Wine Guy) and his girlfriend. DH and WG were especially excited to go back to their alma mater...memories and good friends were waiting. And so were the great shops. Between us, I think we girls gave the local economy a signigicant boost!

Thankfully, Auburn won the game and the girls had the chance to experience not only BIG SEC football, but rolling the trees at Toomer's Corner (an Auburn tradition!). Spending time with old friends from college days and their families...and eating fabulous tailgating foods... was the icing on the proverbial cake. A great time was had by all...

Our trip home was tiring, but we thoroughly enjoyed our traditional stop at Mark's Melon Patch...or as it's known in the fall, "Mark's Pumpkin Patch". This was Catherine's first experience in a pumpkin patch! What fun!!! As always, there were pumpkins all around...and gourds...and cotton...and peanuts...and all sorts of goodies. We stuffed our bags with pecans, pecan brittle, pralines, Vidalia Onion salad dressing, peach butter...and so much more. And we ate HOT FRIED APPLE PIES!!! These are divine!!!
These zinnias were part of the rainbow of colors found in a patch of to the pumpkins...which were next to the sunflowers...which were next to the corn...which was bordered with cotton...

(left to right...WG, Julie, DH, Catherine, DB)

This was the first time we had all traveled together...and it was a successful trip. The only missing part was that our middle son couldn't join us. Well, we'll just have to do this again next year...

Be sure to stop by Susan's to see all the beautiful Outdoor Wednesday posts;