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.