Posted by: Robin Draper on Sunday, March 9, 2014 / 12:00:00 am / Comments (1)
I am often asked what inspired me to create Authentic Florida.
The truth of the matter is that my inspiration probably began in the womb. I think my DNA was tattooed “F-L-O-R-I-D-A” from the get-go. Born and raised on a Florida island, I spent many days as a toddler on sandy beaches at the water’s edge. The mangroves became my playground, the pine forests my getaway, the rivers, lakes and springs offered peace, serenity and beauty.
Much later, after college, I married and moved out of the Florida - planting me far away from my birthplace. Looking back, it was nice to discover a new place but I was quickly homesick. That sojourn turned into 20 years. There were many visits home but Florida never was far from my mind.
Eventually, whether it was the stars or an awakening of my Florida genes, or merely my destiny, something inside me led me back home. While living away from my birthplace, I created a deep longing to rediscover the land I so dearly loved and Authentic Florida not only became a searching, but also a soulful mission.
Florida has so many treasures, some of which are imbedded in my memory like old photographs. The sunsets, smell of orange blossoms, the quiet swaying of pine trees, an afternoon rainstorm, a pink roseatte spoonbill in flight or even the chance sight of a night-blooming cereus.
“Real” Florida is everywhere we turn. The stillness of a kayak ride through a Florida mangrove tunnel, a swim in the world’s deepest fresh water spring, a swamp walk through the Big Cypress, horse riding on a real cracker cattle ranch, scalloping on the Nature Coast, diving for lobster in the Florida Keys, or hiking through the towering pine flatwoods of Ocala National Forest.
Besides discovering Florida, I love to live “Florida” in all I do. My kitchen bustles with delightful dishes of Florida Roasted Shrimp Salad, a Tomato-Mozzarella Tart, fresh Key Lime Pie, Orange Cream Pie, freshly caught Florida fish, stone crab and clams and everything in between.
I relish my time in my garden growing and creating a yard that looks and feels like Florida. I enjoy curling up with inviting Florida books written by local writers and I love art and artists who remind me of the state’s beauty. I also love exercising in the Florida outdoors – hiking, biking, paddle boarding, kayaking or even some yoga on the beach. Add to that a curious appreciation of Florida homes that incorporate old (and new) ideas while visiting authentic communities and neighborhoods.
Authentic Florida – for me it is a way of being, a way of life, and a source of inspiration. It’s my home, maybe it’s yours too. But even if you live elsewhere, join me as we continue our journey together.
Posted by: Robin Draper on Sunday, January 26, 2014 / 12:00:00 am / Comments (1)
News Release. Florida native, Robin Draper, creator of the website AuthenticFlorida.com, blogs about many topics – “real” Florida travel, lifestyle and food. But this time, her articles about food proved to be a recipe for success at the Sunshine Awards competition in Orlando January 11th where she was recognized for the “Best Food Blog” in Florida. The Sunshine Awards are part of an event called Forum 2014 produced by FlBlogCon, or the Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference.
The awards recognize the very best bloggers, tweeters, instagrammers, pinners, and facebookers in the state of Florida. More than 100 nominees were submitted and narrowed to a ballot of three in each of 20 categories. A “people’s choice” style vote was conducted via the FlBlogCon website last year to choose the favorites. Winners were announced at the recent Central Florida Conference January 11th.
Draper shares, "I am incredibly grateful for the readers and peers that voted for Authentic Florida. I am an accidental food blogger but love to cook (and eat!) and am so motivated by those who share and inspire me daily."
Florida native Robin Draper is the owner of AuthenticFlorida.com, a travel and lifestyle blog devoted to the simple and delightful pleasures for Florida living. Authentic Florida is intended to inspire discovery of the accessible, yet under-appreciated reaches of the state. The blog also invites readers to simplify – whether traveling, cooking, gardening, enjoying art and authors, homes & neighborhoods while discovering uncomplicated ideas for living.
Reclaiming her authentic Florida heritage has become her life passion and inspirational compass through her blog. Draper’s book, Authentic Florida features her favorite places to travel, available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.
Posted by: Robin Draper on Sunday, December 29, 2013 / 12:00:00 am / Comments (8)
It’s time to lean into the New Year with a fresh start. How would you like a new year with re-newed inspiration?
Sounds good, but where does one begin?
For me, the most likely start is finding some quiet times in my busy life. I need space to just pause and clear my thought process so I can gain new perspectives and find ways to solve everyday challenges. I also need to sift through a multitude of ideas to help me plan the upcoming year. I try to do this in the morning while enjoying the early hours, sometimes looking to the simplicity of nature outside my window. The stillness of morning is almost magical in clearing the slate for my thoughts and energy.
The second step is to get my body moving. As hard as it is, I try to exercise daily because I need movement for stimulation - physical as well as mental. Whether walking, running, swimming, riding, playing tennis, or practicing yoga – or whatever your choice for movement…it’s about being outside in Florida’s fresh air, circulating the blood, thereby creating a life force for living. When I exercise, I empower myself to take better care of me.
My third step is creating a diet of fresh, Florida food. I know that if I am eating well, I am feeling better. I am grateful that my garden is overflowing with fresh greens, tomatoes and herbs. But to maintain the freshness on my dinner table, I also turn to my local Farmer’s Market. Scheduling at least one weekly trip to the market makes a big difference on my plate and at this time of year, Florida is overflowing with fresh produce.
My final step is connecting with others. I need connection with those around me, deepening my relationships to family and friends. It is energizing. For without them, I am so much less.
Having you as an Authentic Florida friend and reader gives me plenty of reasons and ideas to look forward to 2014. Thank you for being part of my Authentic Florida journey.
Maybe my four steps will help you as you plan your new year, and help attain my wish for you - a new year with abundant serenity, exercise, good fresh food and deep connections. With that in mind, 2014 may be overflowing with more Florida gifts and miracles.
Posted by: Robin Draper on Sunday, November 24, 2013 / 5:00:00 pm / Comments (0)
Gratitude. It runs deep in my nature. It gives me a joy for living. There is so much that I am grateful and passionate about as I live my authentic Florida life. And I am also grateful for all of my loyal readers and friends. You give me inspiration and terrific ideas for travel and living.
My short gratitude list is: faith, family, friends and Florida. My other list, the complete list, is really long, so there is not enough space here to get into it - like most of us, I have a lot to be grateful for. My list, my joy for living, is all about appreciating what we have and sharing our blessings with others. When it comes to Authentic Florida I am grateful for:
• Florida’s top quality state parks, preserves and natural areas, and our abundance of wildlife - so precious in our circle of living
• Florida’s locally grown produce, seafood and fresh agricultural products
• Native flora & fauna, especially food bearing plants, trees and herbs, creating a connection from the Florida soil to my home and kitchen
• The Florida outdoors and the ability to exercise year around whether hiking, biking, paddle boarding, kayaking, horseback riding or yoga on the beach
• Florida artists and authors who inspire us with their creativity
• Authentic Florida homes and decor – bringing the outside beauty into everyday living
All these deepen my passion for Florida living, bringing me joy as I appreciate the treasures of our beautiful and wondrous state.
Thank you for sharing the good life in Florida. From my family to yours, have a delightful and joyous Thanksgiving.
Posted by: Robin Draper on Sunday, November 17, 2013 / 12:00:00 am / Comments (0)
While the rest of the country is preparing for colder weather, we in Florida are fortunate to have a much longer growing season – actually two seasons, fall and spring.
Not only does our state have a rich agricultural community but we as individuals can grow our own food, in small containers, on patios or even in our yards. We can also grow beautiful lawns and landscapes just about all year long. And we can care for our yards using a practice called “Florida Friendly.”
What does that mean?
That means we can create outdoor spaces that adhere to what the experts call a “Florida Friendly Landscaping Plan.” It’s basically a plan to help Floridians develop their yards using common sense ecological principles while protecting our state’s precious water resources. And by the way, the plan saves you money!
The smart plan was hatched by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Science, in cooperation with the state’s water management districts.
I became familiar with the “Florida Friendly” concept when I recently completed my Master Gardener training. I love the concept and have found it to be very helpful as I strive to develop and enhance my Florida yard.
The Florida Friendly Landscaping Plan adheres to nine basic principles that are easy to follow and good guidelines for planning your yard.
Principle #1: Right Plant, Right Place
It’s common sense that certain plants are more suited to areas of your yard than other places. Think about it. If a plant is properly placed, getting the proper amount of sunlight, irrigation and soil conditions, it will require less from the surrounding ecosystem, and will inevitably thrive. Just ask your local nursery to help you choose the right place for your plantings.
Principle #2: Water Efficiently
Properly watering plants when needed is not only smart, but saves you money. It’s common for many of us to over water, which hurts the plants and ultimately costs more. Knowing how much water your plant varieties require is key. Also, during the rainy season checking and adjusting your irrigation system is especially wise.
Principle #3: Fertilize Appropriately
Fertilize your garden at the correct time of year and with the right amount. Pretty simple. This also helps to prevent fertilizer runoff and environmental leaching which gets into our water supply and disturbs the ecosystem.
Principle #4: Mulch
Mulching your yard when appropriate prevents soil runoff, reduces weeds, and retains soil moisture. Consider using natural mulch - pine straw or leaves will protect your plants, while retaining moisture. Another no-brainer.
Principle #5: Attract Wildlife
What could be better than having nature in your yard? Certain practices attract birds and butterflies, and other innocent critters. Plant berry bushes and flowers, install birdbaths and use certain plants, thereby encouraging nature to enjoy our yards while we admire them.
Principle #6: Manage Yard Pests Responsibly
Taking a more cautious, holistic approach to pest management assures that toxic materials do not hurt the environment, nature and humans. This careful approach pays off for all living things.
Principle #7: Recycle
Recycling yard waste from mowing, pruning and raking will save money and enrich your yard. When possible, use a compost pile that provides a perfect place for recycling your yard waste. Then, use the compost as a soil additive for your plants, again saving you money.
It all really does make sense, and when you apply all the principles to enhancing your yard, you’ll see the difference. Happy Florida gardening!
For more information on developing a Florida Friendly Yard, contact your nearest County Extension Office or visit the website http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu.