Monday, November 30, 2020

Covid-safe activities for the whole family

Covid-safe activities for the whole family










Like many people these days, I've been avoiding unnecessary travel for fear of contracting or unwittingly spreading Covid. Many museums have shut down temporarily and some permanently so I've had to find creative ways to feed my travel and museum addiction.  

Oxbow Eco Center
I don't want to travel by plane so I've been keeping my trips within driving distance and I've been limiting my activities to outdoor venues like the Oxbox-Eco Center (I wrote a separate post about the Oxbow Eco-Center which you can read here)

Port Saint Lucie Botanical Gardens



















and the Port Saint Lucie Botanical Gardens, which is free and open to the public 7 days a week.

Port Saint Lucie Riverwalk Boardwalk

The city has recently finished the 1,300-ft Riverwalk Boardwalk extension from Bridge Plaza to the Botanical Gardens. Residents can use the Riverwalk to walk, jog, or fish on the St. Lucie River and there is a floating dock with a kayak/canoe launch as well. The good news for pedestrians is that plans are in place to connect the existing Riverwalk at Veterans Park to the new 1,300-ft section so you'll be able to walk from the Botanical Gardens and under the bridge to Veterans Park without having to walk through the busy intersection on Port Saint Lucie Boulevard.


The Famous Tiny Houseboat

A couple months ago, my husband and I went on a short road trip up to Sanford, Florida for our anniversary and had a staycation on The Famous Tiny Houseboat. The houseboat was fun and relaxing and the perfect place to social distance. You can read more about The Famous Tiny Houseboat here.

Hillsborough River

This past weekend we took another road trip to the west coast of Florida and rented a cute little cottage on Airbnb again. 

View of Hillsborough River
Porch View of the Hillsborough River.

It was located in the quiet and peaceful neighborhood of Old Seminole Heights with our back porch right on the Hillsborough River. With just a 5-minute drive to downtown Tampa, we had the best of both the city and country. 

Canoeing on the Hillsborough River
Our kind hosts generously allowed us to monopolize their canoe every day. 

Canoeing on the Hillsborough River

We paddled up and down all day and couldn't get enough of this gorgeous river.


Sparkman Wharf Tampa Florida

Sparkman Wharf is an outdoor entertainment destination on the waterfront with a dining garden, Biergarten, recreational lawn, and live music.

Sparkman Wharf Tampa Florida
Foodtruck-style restaurants built out of shipping containers offer a variety of take-away cuisines. 

Sparkman Wharf Tampa Florida

Tables, sofas, and swings are spaced a minimum of 6-feet apart for safe yet intimate dining.

Armature Works Tampa Florida


Armature Works is a mixed-use event space with restaurants, an upscale food court, bar, rooftop lounge, and indoor/outdoor seating located in the historic Tampa Heights neighborhood.

Inside Armature Works Tampa Florida
Open-air seating inside Armature Works.

Giant checkers at Armature Works



















The area is family and pet-friendly with ample seating, tables, astroturf, and games.

Hillsborough Riverwalk Tampa Florida
You can grab a water taxi, rent a stand-up paddleboard, or go for a bike or stroll along the Hillsborough River. The Tampa Riverwalk includes Waterworks Park which has a playground and splash pad for the kiddos and a dog park for our furry friends. 

Waterfront at Tampa Armature Works
The weather was perfect for sitting outdoors along the waterfront and enjoying the live music performance. 

Drive-in movie theater at Tampa Armature Works
Armature Works also offers drive-in movies at 7:30 and 10:00 pm every night for $22 per car. 


This is a short video I shot of one of our canoeing adventures on the Hillsborough River. With the weather cooling down to more comfortable temperatures here in Florida, now is a great time to explore all the fun and healthy outdoor activities Florida has to offer!


Monday, October 5, 2020

Elliott's Portfolio of Eclectic Art

I was honored to be asked to participate in an invitation-only art exhibit at the Elliott Museum. Four of my paintings have been selected for the upcoming show, Elliott's Portfolio of Eclectic Art. 

The opening reception is October 15th from 5:30-7:30 and the exhibition will be up through January 3rd, 2021.

I was also pleasantly surprised to open my email this morning and discover that my artwork had been featured in the Historical Society of Martin County newsletter. Thank you HSMC!

An Update from the President & CEO
Good Day everyone,

“Without art, the crudeness of the world would make life unbearable.”
- George Bernard Shaw

We could all do with a steady stream of art in our lives about now…eh? Enjoying art up close and in person can be a wildly uplifting experience to anyone with a mind that is open even a crack. Throughout most of 2020, we have all been bombarded with challenges and messaging that effectively take away our ability to live in a world of beauty and wonder. We would like to invite you to plan a visit to the Elliott Museum soon to escape the drudgery and despair to a much happier space.

The Bulldog Breed British Bikes exhibit just loaded out of our Flex Gallery, and after some repairs and a coat of fresh paint on the walls, we will be loading in an exciting new Art Exhibit. I won’t spoil the surprise today, but I will assure you that the exhibit will be memorable and something few people have had the chance to enjoy. As ever, keep your eye on our website (hsmc-fl.com) for details about the opening. You absolutely never know what is next at the Elliott Museum!

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
- Thomas Merton

I was recently introduced to the term “disaster fatigue.” It is fair to say that it is a genuine phenomenon, and most of us are probably suffering from some level of it. There is no vaccine for it, and the traditional treatments involving pharmaceuticals and alcohol are ultimately not always the most effective way to treat it. Separating ourselves from the unending pressures of this tumultuous year and taking a moment to remember to be grateful for all the great things in our life is a miracle cure. As Thomas Merton reminds us, spending some quality time immersed in art can be incredibly therapeutic. The trick is to quiet your mind as you are standing in front of a piece of art that speaks to you, and allow your thoughts to stay within the boundaries of the canvas.
The artwork of Kim Nolan, who is one of the featured artists in the Elliott Museum's next exhibit.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso

Art is for the ages and for all ages. All of us at the Historical Society of Martin County offer a heartfelt invitation to the young and old alike to pay a visit to our museum and tune into what we hope will become a lifelong habit for you. Teaching your children or grandchildren to appreciate art is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Art simply cannot be contained. No matter your location, vocation, or station in life, art remains accessible to you. Please feel welcome to immerse yourself in one of our gallery spaces and stay as long as you like. Bask in the creative talent that seems limitless…in a sea of limitations.
Enjoy art every day of your life!

“The highest form of art is making people happy. (My daily affirmation!)
- P.T. Barnum

Be unbridled and playful,
Rob Steele
President & CEO
Historical Society of Martin County

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Famous Tiny Houseboat

My husband and I were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and were looking for a relaxing getaway. We also wanted to avoid air travel during the pandemic so I was thrilled to discover the Famous Tiny Houseboat on Airbnb just a two-hour drive away. 

It earned the name, "Famous Tiny Houseboat" when it was featured on the HGTV television show, Tiny House Hunters. 

We've stayed in a lot of weird and interesting places all over the world but this was our first time staying on a houseboat. I was extremely excited about this trip especially since we've gone so long without being able to travel due to the pandemic.

This adorable floating house is in the perfect location. Located in the Monroe Harbour Marina in Sanford, Florida, it's just a short two-block walk to Historic Downtown Sanford. I liked that it was in the center of everything but also in a very quiet location.

Historic Downtown Sanford is a quaint and charming little town packed with bars, restaurants, art galleries, vintage shops, and performing arts theaters. 

A free trolley will shuttle you up and down the cobblestone streets or you can rent a golf cart, bicycle, or scooter. 

If you're a sporty person like me, you can go for a run or a bike ride along the pedestrian-friendly Riverwalk Trail. If you feel like relaxing, you can take in the view of Lake Monroe while sitting on one of the Riverwalk's fun bench swings. 

We took advantage of our prime location and brought our stand-up paddleboards with us and explored about 3 miles of the 15-square mile Lake Monroe. If you want a day out on the lake that requires less physical activity, boat rentals are also available.

The houseboat exceeded my expectations. It was clean, spacious, and had everything we needed, including a kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator and a dishwasher.

Measuring 500-square feet, it was twice the size of the average hotel room. We lived in a cottage in Hawaii for two years that was the same size as the houseboat so it didn't feel tiny to us at all. 
 It was nicely decorated and the living room even had a record player and a fireplace. 

The house also had Wifi and a small workspace. 

Though I can't say I'd be too motivated to do much work with this gorgeous view.

Unlike most tiny houses, you could easily stand up in the upstairs sleeping loft.

It even had a walk-in closet that was large enough to fit seating so you could relax and read a book or watch the boats passing by outside the tiny window. 

 This houseboat experience was unique, relaxing, and really fun. I fell in love with the Famous Tiny Houseboat and the city of Sanford. I would definitely do it again and my only wish is that we could've stayed longer. 


Friday, May 29, 2020

Oxbow Eco-Center


The Oxbow Eco-Center is an environmental learning center located in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Situated on a 225-acre preserve on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, the Eco-Center has a series of trails totaling about 3.5 miles. 

mosaic art
The center houses an Exhibit Hall and Discovery Room which are currently closed due to COVID-19. However, the hiking trails, butterfly gardens, and picnic areas are free and open to the public, offering a safe and healthy activity for the whole family.

frog sculpture made from tires
It was nice to be out in the fresh air surrounded by nature and art. The grounds are peppered with an eclectic mix of art installations and kid-friendly sculptures like this funky frog made from upcycled tires.

theater at the Oxbow Eco-Center
They also have a little outdoor theater for special events. My ukulele club was supposed to play in their Earth Day concert but unfortunately, it was canceled due to the stay at home order. On a positive note, there was a banner on the front of the building announcing that they will be open for summer camp.

hiking trail at the Oxbow Eco-Center
The South Florida Water Management District and St. Lucie County purchased the lands to preserve and sustain its native wildlife.

Trail head at the Oxbow-Eco Center
Boardwalks, bridges, trails, and observation towers have been built from either recycled or recyclable materials to allow visitors to fully experience nature without disrupting it.

Canoe Launch
You can launch your canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard from the canoe launch and paddle down the St. Lucie River.

Saint Lucie River
It has more species of fish than any other river in the state!

Oxbow Eco-Center Florida Heritage Trail
Along the Florida Heritage Trail, you will discover many delightful art installations.

Oxbow Eco-Center Florida Heritage Trail
These folksy animal sculptures are made from wood.

Oxbow Eco-Center Florida Heritage Trail
These endearing scenes made me feel like I was in an enchanted forest.
I couldn't get enough of them so I actually hiked this trail twice.   

Oxbow Eco-Center Florida Heritage Trail
The scenes are numbered but there was no interpretive signage and I couldn't find any information about them on the trail map.

Oxbow Eco-Center Florida Heritage Trail
I can only assume that this trail normally offers a guided experience when the Eco-Center is open. The mystery of it all has made me even more intrigued.

Oxbow Eco-Center Florida Heritage Trail
I can't wait to go back to the Oxbow Eco-Center when it is fully operational again. I am curious to know more about this special place. I will add a Part 2 to this post with photos and information about the Exhibit Hall and Discovery Room when they re-open.

Oxbow Eco-Center Florida Heritage Trail

In the meantime, I hope you visit the Oxbow Eco-Center and enjoy it as much as I did!

"The Oxbow Eco-Center cultivates knowledge, nurtures a sense of wonder, and inspires stewardship for the natural world through education, artistic expression, collaboration, volunteerism, and celebration."

5400 NE St. James Drive
Port St. Lucie, FL 34983

Admission is free