Simple pleasures: flea market treasure finds new home

The last Renningers antique extravaganza of the season is always bittersweet for will be a long stretch from February until the next season begins in November. It's a lot like waiting for Downton Abbey to return and we all know how that feels.

But I found a great little treasure in this beautiful field shaded with a canopy of old oak trees. After tromping through acres and acres of vintages finds, there it was. I knew the minute I saw this turquoise terrarium that it would likely go home with me. But I walked away and kept coming back.

It is old, a little rusty and the pretty turquoise paint is peeling just enough to give it character. The stall owner had filled it with dishes. I knew I could give it a better life. So, we made a (good) deal.

Terrarium at Mt. Dora.JPG

I knew just what to with it.

I coated the bottom with some of my favorite shells that I have collected from Upper Captiva Island and some of my treasures from New Zealand beaches. Now they are all mingled together and sitting in the middle is a small piece of driftwood that I found that is just perfect. And my prized white nautical shell is the focal point.

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Now it sits in my entry on an early 1800's, English sideboard that is from a kitchen. Coincidently, this piece was also discovered at Rennigers in Mt. Dora. I like to think that it came from a manor house kitchen but will never know for sure.

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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: New Zealand offers otherworldly escape

Photo of Lake Manapouri

The departure point for Doubtful Sound excursions, Lake Manapouri is often described as the loveliest of all of New Zealand's lakes with its backdrop of the majestic Cathedral Mountain range, small islands, deserted sandy beaches and coves. Image courtesy of Destination Fiordland.

Fort Myers News-Press Grandeur Magazine, February 2012

By Wrenda Goodwyn

New Zealand’s mix of amazing landscapes, volcanic cones, ocean beaches, lush rainforests, sweeping coastlines, influence of the spiritual Maori culture and cosmopolitan cities, make this unique destination as magical as its famous Middle-earth film locations.  And if you pause and take in the powerful silence of the untouched wilderness, New Zealand is a country that will find you and take you on an unforgettable, life-changing journey. This is not a destination for watching.  It is a place where everyone participates.  And the welcoming, hospitable way in which New Zealanders make that possible is the best reason of all for visiting.


To experience New Zealand, visitors must get out on the water and enjoy the passion for sailing that comes natural to its residents.  The largest city in the country, Auckland is home to a third of all New Zealanders and it is also known as the “City of Sails.” Many visitors begin their adventure in this cosmopolitan city that is perched on two harbors. A sailor’s playground, it offers easily accessible activities. Tourists are drawn to the vibrant Viaduct Basin to sign up for the once- in- a- lifetime chance to sail on an America’s Cup yacht where they become part of the crew and take on the thrill of sailing Auckland Harbor.

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Travel New Zealand: A "happy day" in Devonport

With a free day on my own in Auckland, New Zealand, I headed downtown  for a 10-minute ferry ride  to beautiful Devonport. Directly across from Auckland, and actually a suburb of Auckland, it was recommended to me by the helpful Air New Zealand concierge as a must-see on my day to explore.

Photo of Auckland HarborView of Auckland from Devonport.With four beaches, a charming downtown, Victorian houses, art galleries, spectacular views of Auckland City and its magnificent harbor, Devonport is steeped in maritime history. High on the Kiwi's must-do list, it is the 4th most visited destination in the region. It's natural beauty is only surpassed by the friendliness of it's residents. Helpful and welcoming.

I spent hours touring Devonport.  It's two twin volcanic cones (Mt. Victoria and North Head). The new Naval Museum at Torpedo Bay. Walked through tunnels and military barracks that go back to 1870. And of course, looking at every beautiful house and garden along the way. One of my guides, born and raised in Devonport and an avid sailor, said that no one ever leaves to live anywhere else.  Why would they?

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Travel New Zealand: Oh, the places I have been!

Cover of Dr. SeussNever would I have imagined the places I have been! 
When I was growing up in Virginia, my father and I shared the same wanderlust.  We loved history and and combed through all of the sites in the history-rich Peninsula area. And he gave me my curiosity of people and how they lived and what they could teach us.  That curiosity has taken me to places all over the world that I expected to only dream about or see in movies.
I likely would not have gone to New Zealand if it had not been for a business trip  that allowed me to add a week at each end of the trip.  Plus several days on my own to explore (there is nothing better than landing in a new country and having some days to roam on your own!).  And I could not have known that New Zealand would find me (instead of the other way around), show me its very best, lead me to some new friends and teach me some things that will be with mePhoto of AucklandAuckland from my hotel room. forever.  That is the wonderful thing about travel.  You never know what you will find.  Whether it is a trip down the street or on the other side of the world.
So, on this day, I have arrived in Auckland after what seems like days of flying. For the next two days I will explore this city and see what it has to teach me!
I put on my sunnies (sunglasses)  and headed for the harbor. It was going to be an easy peasy day (no stress).  A chocolate box day as the Kiwi’s say.   What could be better than a box of chocolates? 


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