Travels: Treasures from the beach

My recent trip to one of my favorite places in the world, Mendocino, resulted in two amazing finds. Perfect for someone like me who loves to take beautiful things and repurpose them!

It was way before sunrise when my husband went out to hit the beach in the headlands to see what had washed in overnight. A trip down the driftwood stairs to the beach and you are really in another world. This beach is one of our favorites. It is filled with beautiful driftwood that we use for his artwork.



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And today was a really lucky day. He found this beautiful abalone shell just waiting for me to take it home. It now holds the jewelry on my dressing table and is a real (and beautiful) treasure.


But that wasn’t all...he found a piece of abalone on the beach that is just perfect for a necklace. So with the help of a Southwest Florida jewelry designer,  I was able to turn it into a beautiful one-of-a-kind necklace. Something that I will always treasure as much as my memories of Mendocino.  


Mendocino: Forgotten in time

It‘s a steamy, hot day in southwest Florida and my thoughts have turned to my recent adventure to cool and blissful Mendocino. 


The haunting beauty of that area of the California coast is breathtaking and stays with you long after you leave.





The most amazing quality of Mendocino is the peaceful and stunning quiet of the area. The first few times I was here, I thought that time had forgotten about Mendocino. But during this stay, I realized that the magic of the place is that it has forgotten time. And therein lies its rare, uncomplicated beauty.


You can walk the blustery Headlands State Park (always reminds me of the Cliffs of Dover in England). Pick up colorful bits of this and that in nearby Glass Beach. Find some courage and go cave kayaking in the Pacific. Have a drink in front of the fireplace at the old Mendocino Hotel, a historic landmark, and let time transport you back to the 1850’s when the town was a booming port for logging trade. You can pick up beautiful pieces of driftwood on the beach or as I like to do, sit on a bench and take it all in. That is the pure joy of Mendocino, taking it all in.


Since for me, it is always about the houses, I love to walk the streets and explore the Victorian and saltbox homes. Some have been forgotten and are overgrown with beautiful flowers. The rolling meadows and redwood trees and just the quiet of the village of Mendocino, make me think of the movies shot there, East of Eden with James Dean and Summer of 42


But mostly I love the fact that what happens in the rest of the world really doesn’t matter here. You can leave some cash in a jar after hours for the artist who leaves a few of her pieces for those who might visit after her studio closes. Or take a break and sit for a while on a mosaic sofa that nature has taken over.



And one night I was taking a walk on the Headlands and stumbled into the playhouse where the Mendocino Theatre Company was presenting Master Class.  I asked at the box office and they told me the show started in 10 minutes and since I did not have my purse with me, I could come back and leave my money in the mail box the next day. I did. I think life should always be this way but it only seems to happen in the quaint town that forgot about time. 



And there is my favorite bookstore, Gallery Bookshop, where you have a view of the Pacific and peruse all kinds of great books. And it is fun to stop in The Birdhouse(a studio that was converted from a water tower) where artist  Monika Maluche makes her beautiful little ceramic birds. You can pick one up for $20.



But my best find in Mendocino this visit was free. My husband, in the early morning hours, found a gorgeous intact, abalone shell that washed on the beach. Perfect to hold jewelry on my dressing table, it brings back all the perfect memories every day.

I'll be back soon. It would be impossible for me to stay away.



These houses are for the birds!

Photo of artist's creative birdhouseLong before I was an interior decorator I loved houses.
It was always so interesting to me to see how they were decorated, how the furniture was arranged and how the owner lived. I have collected small houses for years and have them displayed on a antique post office where I can study them with all of their little details.
And I have been collecting birdhouses for the past few years.  I find them to be very sweet and the perfect accessory for almost any style home or outdoor space. I find them at flea markets and I even journeyed to North Carolina where I found a birdhouse builder with acres and acres of these miniature homes.  I returned home with a car full.
But as a believer in using what you have whenever possible, and in repurposing when it makes sense, I especially love birdhouses that use local materials that mean something. And as a southwest Florida interior decorator, I am surrounded by beautiful driftwood, shells, treasures that wash up on the beaches and  more.

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Travels: Haunting and beautiful Mendocino on my mind

Mendocino has cast a spell on me. A good spell.

It is probably the fact that it is a quaint, very rustic village that time has forgotten. Setting on a rugged Photo of Mendocinobluff overlooking the Pacific, two hours north of San Francisco, the journey to get to this paradise is not for the faint of heart. But the Mendocino coast rewards those who make the journey with a setting that is pure heaven.

Or maybe it is isolated enough that the 700 or so people who live there seem pleasantly far removed from what goes on in the world.  For a few days I was happily one of them. In this unspoiled paradise.

It is right out of a movie.  Literally.  Many have been shot in this picturesque town, including East of Eden.  The historic Blair House was the setting for Murder She Wrote.

But for me, it is always about the houses.  The people who live in them now and in the past.Photo of Mendocino House with Wildflowers

Mendocino was  settled in the mid 19th century during the lumber boom and then the gold rush. In the 1950's it was primarily an artist colony.  Today it has a handful of galleries, organic restaurants with names like the Moosse Cafe and a few shops.   The historic Mendocino Hotel where you can have a delicious dinner and wine overlooking the bluffs. A Mendocino beach with driftwoodbeautiful beach filled with driftwood.  Hiking trails at Headlands State Park that wind out to cliffs filled with wildflowers and overlooking the ocean and the village. 

The homes are an eclectic combination of salt boxes, cottages, Queen Anne and Gothic Revival. The town is on the National Register of historic places.

Nearby, you can go to Glass Beach and wade through the tidal pools and pick up bits of colorful glass left over from the days going back to 1949 when it was a public dump. Or take a scenic tour on the Skunk Train of the Redwoods east of Fort Bragg by the Noyo River.

But the best part is just being in the little village of Mendocino. Haunting and spiritual. It casts a spell  that follows you home and it lingers for a long time.