TRAVEL: TO ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA

Time to head South and travel to St. Augustine, Florida!

This is an old…as in founded in 1565…historic city on the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

It sits directly on the inland waterway. It is, of course, very residential but also has become a tourist destination. There are lots of hotels, inns, and B&Bs both in the town and along the beach. Parts of the city have been preserved very well: there are pedestrian friendly streets; the water is always present and it is very walkable. On the other hand, there are the usual commercial areas and storefronts selling to tourists. As with so many places these days, it pays to do your homework and get a feel for what you want and where it is located.

We were right in the old town but took a drive out to the Lighthouse and then down along the beach for many miles. Lucky for us it was mid-week and a rainy day…no crowds at all and so peaceful.

The day we went out to the beach was gray and foggy and drizzly which made for an empty beach to walk, and perfect for photos!

 

So much texture everywhere with stone walls, moss, tropical plantings and weathered wood.

Here is a short video of some of the sights:


Where did we stay you may ask?
We stayed at the BayfrontWestcott House which is part of the
Select Registry group of hotels. They have hotels and inns in many states and parts of this country as well as one in Nova Scotia and one in England. We have stayed in several of the inns in several Eastern states and are generally pleased. The prices are reasonable, which is one reason we keep returning, and the locations are always good. 

However, sometimes we do wonder if the standards have slipped, or the oversight just is not there 100% of the time, or maybe it’s just the local owners/managers who are not quite paying attention. In this case, while our room was a nice size and perfectly situated within the Inn (lovely veranda with comfortable seating outside the room), the lighting in the room was amazingly bad. Yes, we were surprised at just HOW bad. No reading light at all on one side of the bed and two dim table lights in the rest of the room! They seemed genuinely surprised that we raised this issue the next morning, but nothing was done to correct it.

The view from our balcony; our room (no lights !); comfortable seating on the verandah outside our room.

How about the food scene you ask next.
Fabulous! We had recommendations from two people and had made reservations for two nights. Both restaurants were above and beyond, and yet each very different from the other. The first one is
Catch 27

I LOVE risotto and order it often, comparing the many different versions. Well, this risotto with blackened shrimp just might win first place. Superb. The restaurant was much smaller and informal than we had imagined which made for a more intimate experience. I also ordered a Mojito (very unusual for me!) which was not only enormous, but so minty and wonderful. Five stars for this entire meal and restaurant.

 

The next night we walked to
Preserved Restaurant

We sat on the lovely wraparound porch, with our own personal gas heater, where it was quiet. Service was impeccable: not too intrusive but always there. The mussels were superb; and oh the apple tart with blueberry jam!
The house has a long and interesting history and has been carefully “preserved” and restored. It was owned by Thomas Jefferson’s great-granddaughter in the late 1890’s but fell into complete disrepair by the 1960’s. And now it is gorgeous; I highly recommend a visit. And sit outside on the verandah if you can.

Of course we searched out galleries, and I am happy to report we found one we really liked:
Plum Gallery

Their website takes a while to go through each artist’s work, but take a look. My favorites, both new discoveries, were
Marylou Gibson and Karlene McConnell

The gallery also had fabulous jewelry and at a very reasonable price! I can’t show it here as I just sent a surprise to my daughter!

I’ll leave you with one last image that I love: lots of greenery growing out of the gutters in this 200 year old house.

 

One last note about hotels. We did find one we liked a lot and would definitely go to on our next visit:
The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens
We spent a few hours on the property, sitting in the huge courtyard; even went back in the evening to sit by the firepit. The rooms and suites look lovely; the hotel is in the old historic section and very walkable to everything.

Hope you have enjoyed the trip: I have more travel for you in the next few months!

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FRIDAY FLOWERS: IT’S WINTER!

It’s deep winter and not much is happening in the garden.
Now, that’s not a surprise to you, is it?

How do you feel about the extended break from being out in the garden? I’ve been wondering how others feel about this and how, and what, you do in this “down” time. I know, there are seed catalogs arriving almost every day. And there are gorgeous magazines to pour over and pick up ideas and advice. You can sketch out a new garden or how you might redo a certain area.

And yet….it IS a time when you can feel in limbo. Do you feel a kind of relief that no, you don’t have to be out there every day and can spend the time doing other things? Do you feel these few months are a sort of gift?

Or, do you feel bored and ready to get on with it? Are you getting kind of restless with nothing to do?

Meanwhile, just after I started writing this post, THE SNOW EVENT came to my area! We measured 9″ on our terrace. Really, it was as though we had gone back up North to the Hudson Valley! We even have the very same snow shovel we used there for years (and thought we would never use again…ha…)

 

 

Yours truly after shoveling snow followed by a walk in the park where it was magical and quiet.

Back to the subject at hand:

One of the things I love about being out in the garden is the early morning time. I am a morning person, especially when it is light so early. I love getting up before six AM, quickly getting dressed in long pants, long sleeves and hat and heading outside. The day is new. The heat is minimal. Not many people are out and about. It’s just about the best time ever. And in the winter I miss that; I miss the morning and I miss that quiet, sunny, meditative time.

But, of course, I know it will come again. In the meantime I get up a little later when it’s still almost dark, and head to the gym. Hmmmm….not quite the same, but it will do!

Back to my question for all you gardeners out there: how do YOU feel about the winter break?

PROTECTING YOUR SKIN IN WINTER

Last week we discussed how to protect your garden in the winter. This week it’s

How to Protect Your Skin in Winter

The air is dry and your skin is dry.
Depending on the kind of skin you have, this can be a real problem.

I have VERY dry skin. Thank you, Mother! I mean, it is very very very dry. And not just my face, but all over my body. It is definitely true that the older you get the more dry skin can become a major problem.

I have really made a study of this. I am not one to try a new product until I have researched it, read reviews and even asked my dermatologist what she thinks. Over the years I will say I have received some of the best advice from two different (both female…) dermatologists and also from my small, independent pharmacy.

Let’s take a look at my dry skincare arsenal:

Yes, I really DO use all of these at various times and for various skin conditions.
Clockwise from top left:

  1. Palmers
    This is new to me this season and came recommended by my wonderful dermatologist. Apparently it has been around for years and is often used for stretch or surgery lines. It is made with cocoa butter, so yes, it has that chocolate scent. But the scent fades very quickly once it is applied. Thick and creamy and I love it both for face and body.
  2. Neutrogena Hand Cream
    We have had this around the house for years and years. I often put a dab on my hands before going out to the gym in the morning. Great for those cracked fingertips!
  3. Restorsea Pro
    This was actually a giveaway at the dermatologis open house. Very expensive to buy but sure, I’ll use the free tube. It is only for hands. I’ve been using for over two months, 2-3 times a day and I have to say the top of my hands are totally smooth and maybe a few less brown spots? Hard to tell.
  4. CeraVe Itch Relief
    This also was new to me this season, and again from dermatologist. My lower legs developed red spots that itched and this has been wonderful. Now I use it every day on my legs.
  5. CeraVe
    I’m sure many of you know this cream. Hypoallergenic, unscented and good for face and body and really for any and everyone.
  6. Vermont Bee Balm
    I had done a blog post on this fabulous product   just over a year ago. I am still a huge fan. It is the best product there is for nails and cuticles. Period.
  7. Skin Ceuticals CE Ferulic Serum
    While this is not for dry skin I just had to put it in here. It is costly. Very costly. But it is THE MOST recommended serum from all dermatologists and aesthetitians. And with good reason. Five drops smoothed all over the face in the morning and you will see a huge difference. I will say, that the younger you are the more you will see a difference! My (older, aging) skin has not seen the difference that my daughter’s younger, tighter skin has. But take a look at the site and see what you think.

You may be thinking..really? she uses ALL those products? The answer is yes. Come warmer weather and certainly with the high humidity here in North Carolina I won’t be using most of them after about April. I still moisturize every day all year but not so intensively. And, of course, we haven’t even touched on sun screen. Please, apply each and every day. Yes, will you do that?

And now my friends, as you get this email in your inbox, I am headed South to warmer weather! A week long break from this intense cold seemed like a good idea. Check out my Instagram for up-to-date images of our trip, and I will be reporting back here very soon.