Simple pleasures: A late fall road trip with my best friend

My father always said, "there are no friends like old friends." He didn't mean old as in ancient. But as in friends that have known you for a long time. And he was right.

 
 

My friend Connie and I met when we were 18, in college in North Carolina and became best friends right away. We have been through happy times, moves, transitions, sad times, children, divorces, marriages and everything in between. We know each other's deepest secrets (like the time the state police gave us a ride back to our college dorm when we missed our ride in Raleigh), dreams and wishes.

 
 

It seems like we have known each other forever. And that is why, when we get together, we pick up right where we left off. And it's always fun.

When I visited a couple of weeks ago to take a late fall road trip in North Carolina, we were looking for the changing of the leaves, some great shopping, visiting our old college and seeing some sights. And we did all of that. But the best part was enjoying the comfort and good times that can only come from a longtime friend. 

 
Fall in one of my favorite downtowns, Apex, North Carolina.

Fall in one of my favorite downtowns, Apex, North Carolina.

 
 
Take a book. Return a book at the free library. One of my favorite ideas ever.

Take a book. Return a book at the free library. One of my favorite ideas ever.

 
 
Money magazine says its #9 in the U.S.

Money magazine says its #9 in the U.S.

 
 
Shopping for vintage decor.

Shopping for vintage decor.

 
 

I can make this!

 

Hopefully the airline will not weigh my bags!

So, as we head into Thanksgiving next week, I am most thankful for the friends who have been placed in my life and have made me part of their extended families.  And for all of the years we have shared. And priceless memories. Some of which will never be revealed!

 
Forever friends, Wrenda and Connie. 

Forever friends, Wrenda and Connie. 

 

Here's to best friends, Tory Burch and living in color

I love Tory Burch.

Her clothes. Her shoes. The turquoise and white jacket trimmed in shells that I purchased two years ago and will wear forever. The fact that she lives her life in living color... influenced by her travels. And now there is more to love, she has ventured into interior design. It's all gorgeous. And I want it. All of it.

 
Photo:  Tory Burch.

Photo:  Tory Burch.

 

So, imagine my excitement when a longtime friend who knows me all to well, sent me the best gift ever: Tory Burch in Color. It's hot off the press and fabulous. Just like Tory. She groups everything into sections by color so you can see it all: fashion, interiors, travels and more. I give the book a 10 after devouring it this weekend. A beautiful addition to my collection of inspiration books.

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But the best part of all?

 
Friends

Friends

 

This cherished friend, who has a BIG career of her own and is fabulous in her own right, took the time and was thoughtful enough to send me such a special gift. She knew it was the perfect choice. That's what makes a friend. They just know things. Like when you could use a little inspiration. 

Want to know when to splurge and when to save?

Call me. I will help you create Spectacular Spaces in your home!

Time to hire a professional? Read my tips for working with an interior decorator in the Fort Myers News-Press.

Moving: Putting some happiness into a new home and making it yours

I have a good friend who is moving from Orlando this week to Florida's west coast to begin a fabulous job with a major hotel company. He has leased a very cool apartment that is just a hop from the beach (which he loves). He wants to make it home for a year while he takes the time to explore the real estate market.

His new apartment is in a fun neighborhood just blocks from the water. With hardwood floors and stainless appliances, it has a loft, industrial feel.

The first thing that has to be changed is the green (not a good green) accent wall in the living room and he needs to select colors for the rest of the apartment. I suggested that he add a splash of red for the accent wall and greys in the master bedroom and bath. For furniture and accessories, I suggested clean lines to go along with the style of the apartment.

After talking a walk through West Elm last week, I suggested that he shop there because of the new sofas and accent pieces that I saw. As a Fort Myers interior decorator, I often recommend West Elm to my clients when working with smaller scale spaces. I have put a few together that will make his apartment a home and reflect his style right away.

To new beginnings and a happy, new home, my friend!   

Source: West Elm.

Source: West Elm.

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Source: West Elm.

Source: West Elm.

 Source: West Elm.

 Source: West Elm.

Source: West Elm.

Source: West Elm.

Travels: Gardens, wine, artists and a peek inside the lives (and homes) of friends made along the way

The best part of traveling (for me) is having a chance to see where people live and what their daily lives are like. And along the way, meeting folks who give you a unique perspective about where you are.  And I am always looking for ideas that I can  bring back home.

Photo by Elise Hoogsteden-Roberts.So, when I took a train from the Wellington Railway station on a warm, sunny New Zealand morning, I knew that my day of visiting gardens and studios of local artists (and lunch at a winery) in the beautiful Wairarapa region, would be another adventure. A chance to peak into the lives of some talented artists and to take in the regions's beautiful gardens.

Elise Hoogsteden-Roberts, a photographer and artist from the Wairarapa area, shot this photo (above) that summed up my thoughts about that day.  Like this porch with New Zealand summer fruits, it was just a place that you wanted to be. 

Photo by Elise Hoogsteden-Roberts.As an artist, Elise makes fun and fantastic jewelry that reflect the region. Fruit Salad Gal is the perfect name for her business because...well, click here and you will see what makes her craft so unique.  Her work is fun and popular and she ships to many Americans who return home and decide that they must have one of these yummy treats as a reminder of their visit.  Fortunately, she has realized that she has something that visitors want and if you go to her Facebook page, you will see a great selection of photos of her work.   Photo by Elise Hoogsteden-Roberts.

After gallery tours with resident and perfect guide, Julie Kidd, meeting artists at their studios and seeing their homes, walking through beautiful gardens,  the day ended with a fabulous lunch and tour of Gladstone Vineyard. Salmon caught that morning, asparagus picked from the garden and wine from the Vineyard. I could have stayed there forever. 

New Zealand just gets better and better.

 

Sweet memories of a day in the Wairarapa...

Beautiful gardens.

 

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Travels: If this is Thursday, I must be in Paris!

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I am convinced that the best adventures and memories are those that you don't plan.  They just present themselves.

The call came early Monday morning to my London hotel room.  My dear Orlando friend had just landed in Paris.  She was there to visit her son for two weeks.  This was a special invitation that meant a lot to me because he and his brother were in my wedding and he played (beautifully) the piano.  He now has a hugely successful career in Paris, speaks many languages and is quite European. Having been in Paris for many years, he is the perfect guide!

"Get on Eurostar on Thursday and come to see us," she said.  "And spend the night."

Please, twist my arm!

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I was to hop on Eurostar, the very cool train that runs under the English Channel and in two and a half hours deposits you in Paris.  How much fun is that?

So I did.  It was a perfect day.  Even if it was only one day in Paris.

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They picked me up at the train station in Paris and what else, we went for croissants and coffee.  Had our picture taken in front of the Eiffel Tower (to go with the tons of photos that we have from our long friendship).  Walked down the Champs-Elysees.  Had a leisurely lunch at the fabulous Ladurée (oh, those macaroons!).  Did a run through the Quai Branly Museum.  Headed to the country to her son's beautiful home in a quaint village.  Dinner and a fireplace.  A walk in the woods with their sweet dog.

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In the play Billy Elliott, Billy tells us that if "you want to dance, dance."  Don't wait for perfection or for all of the planets to be perfectly aligned.  Just do it. 

That was my day.  I had a chance to go to Paris and I just did it.  Even if it was only for a day.  It was one I will always remember. And those macaroons!  It was perfect.