Gulfcoast Folk on Etsy

My Etsy Shop “Gulfcoast Folk”  is a fun way to sell some of the art items I create.  I started making cypress wood fish and painting them in a  folk art style, and after a little research I chose Etsy as one of my marketing channels. Etsy showcases shops by artists and creators of handmade items. It’s a great place to shop for something different as there are so many creative products to find there.  The shop was easy to set up and before I knew it, I was selling my fish all over the country!   I’ve been kind of surprised at their popularity.




Tommy Tarpon






The Snapper School

To create my folk fish, I start by hand cutting Florida Native Cypress planks that I either re-purpose from fence pickets or  purchase from the Crossroads,  a local sawmill located close by.  I love the rough cut marks the sawmill leaves on the wood.  After I cut out my fish, they get sanded for a surface smooth enough to work with.  I paint them with acrylic paint, and usually during that process, they get a name. Finally they are sealed with a glossy UV inhibiting  acrylic sealer.

Many of my wood fish  are whimsical creations from my imagination, but lately I’ve tried creating some fun species specific fish.  I’ve added a few tarpon and snapper along with the whimsey folk fish.  These wood fish wall hangings are perfect rustic fun decore for a beach cottage, Florida room, dock, deck,  lanai or fence.  I can also create signs from my fish. They are perfect to point the way to the pool, the bar, or wherever you want to direct your guests.

If you’d like to purchase, or commission a style or color, check out my Etsy Shop or drop me a line and I’ll get to work creating a special fish or school just for you. If you like them or my page I’d just be tickled pink if you shared on Pinterest or Facebook 🙂

Hiring a Tampa Landscape Designer

When To Turn To a Landscape Designer

Sunny and TropicalSometimes it’s hard to see the big picture when you are looking at what seems to be insurmountable problems with your property’s landscape. Maybe you’ve just moved into the Tampa Bay Area and don’t really know what plants work here.  Maybe you desire a particular style and just want to know how to create it. Maybe your new home has “default builder landscaping” and you want something custom.  Those are all good reasons to hire a designer who can put things into perspective, evaluate your soil and sun shade patterns, suggest the right plantings and give you a list of what will thrive in your yard.

A good landscape designer will providesmithoffsetfront

  • Education
  • Ideas
  • Plant lists
  • Sourcing
  • Pricing
  • Drawings and photo realistic plans

Designers are often affiliated with or familiar with the best landscape contractors to get your job done right.  Independent landscape designers may work with more than one landscape company and can recommend or chose the one they feel will be the best fit for you and your family.  These recommendations can be priceless when considering a makeover.

When it’s hard to visualize your future landscape its time to call in a pro who can make your landscape design come to life before your eyes.  While there are plenty of designers in the Tampa Bay Area,  you might want to check out the cool photo realistic design from  HydroPro Sales and their cool outdoor Facebook page Outdoor Spaces.




There’s Fishing.. Then There’s Catching

Catching is Better Than Fishing!

Catching is Better Than Fishing!

I fish more than I catch.  It’s a horrible truth that’s hard to admit.  There is nothing I love more than getting out on the water and fishing.  The anticipation, the hope, the dreams of a great fish dinner.  I can keep that anticipation and hope alive for hours, and often do, waiting for that tide change, waiting for the moon phase to bring the fish to me, trying to find the best ambush spot, praying, lots of praying.   But sometimes nothing you can do makes it happen.  You paddle or ride in with the adrenaline of the day flagging and with sad knowledge it was a blank day.  Wannh!

But then there’s those catching days where you can do no wrong. Every cast is a hookup and you feel like a champion tournament winner!   I was fortunate to experience one of those recently down in one the best fishin’ holes in the world, Englewood Florida.   Englewood is South of Venice and North of Boca Grande.  There are miles of mangroves and the famous “Stump Pass” is what makes the fishing here so great!   Fish enter and exit this small pass with the tides.  The variety and quantity can be mind boggling but the prey, in my mind is trout, redfish and snook.

This particular day, my family wanted to go the beach.  We opted to take the boat since parking at Stump Pass is so limited.  We ran out the intercoastal and whipped up ski alley where I dropped off the beach goers.    I put the Scout in reverse and just backed across ski alley to the other side, anchored up by a fallen australian pine and baited up.  The tide was ripping in.  I cast upstream and drifted down  First cast STRIKE!  Trout on the line!  Landed and in the cooler.  Second cast.. nother one!  Third cast… YEP!!!  I stopped for a minute to text the family to say “non-stop fishing action guys!”  They decide to join me so I ran over and picked em up.  For the next 2 hours, we caught sheeps head, trout and ohh la la.. that gorgeous redfish you see in the picture!  Talk about heaven!

The day was good and fish for dinner was a reality not a dream.


U Pick Blueberries In The Tampa Bay Area

Bob’s Blueberry Farm in Hudson

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as Florida Blueberries.  Now, thanks to the University of Florida, we have many varieties that grow here successfully. In fact,  Blueberries are becoming one of Florida’s largest cash crops!  Picking is easy and fun for the whole family.  You can pick a lot of blueberries in an hour.. about 12 pounds worth per person.

Its easy picking when blueberries are this ripe.

Its easy picking when blueberries are this ripe.

If you are thinking about doing some blueberry picking, Bob’s Blueberry Farm and Nursery is a great place to do it.  Researching the u pick blueberry farms around Tampa was eyeopening because of the price differential of as much as 2.00 per pound!  Picking cheap was important.  There are u-pick blueberries in many locations, some closer to me than Bob’s but the u pick prices were around 5.00 per pound.  Nina, Bob’s daughter only charges 3.00 a pound for Upick and 5.00 a pound for already picked berries.  That was a deal in my book!

When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by Nina who will give you a 1 gallon  bucket lined with a grocery bag.  “Eat all you want”  she says, as she sends you off to plunder the blueberries from around 5000 blueberry bushes.  The farm has 5 different varieties of blueberries:  Jewel’s, Emeralds, Abundance, Windsors, and Snow Drifts.  Its fun to sample the berries from the different bushes and easy to enjoy eating all you want!

Blueberries from Bob's Blueberry Farm Hudson Fl

It only takes a half hour to pick 6 pounds of Blueberries!

In about a half hour my bucket was full.  The gallon bucket will weigh out right at 6 lbs.  I left my first harvest with Nina and headed back out with a fresh bucket.  I had a system down at this point, but I’ll  share it with you. Look for the clusters of all ripe berries. Put your bucket under the branch and tease them off.  If you are working on a cluster with some ripe and some not ripe berries, use the same technique.  The ripe berries will fall right into your bucket while the not so ripe ones, will stay on the bush.  Never pass up a fully ripe cluster!  You can get  3 to 10 berries with one pick!

Want to grow your own?  Bob and Nina propagate and grow blueberry plants for you to take home.  #1 containers are $5.00 and number 3 containers are $ 10.00.  That’s a deal too.

You’ll only be able to pick em through June though, so get on out there and pick some!  They are open daily and stay open to dusk during the week.

The farm also grows Goji berries for you pick.  This is an exotic fruit from the Himalayas, considered to be a super food.  The entire plant is edible and they will be available to pick soon!   Click here to visit Bob’s Blueberries on line.

Bob’s Blueberry farm is easy to find from either the Suncoast Expressway or US 19.  It’s east of Little Rd and a bit north of SR 52 off Hudson Ave.  Call Nina on the way and she’ll give you directions.  727 237 4485.

Happy Picking!


Hurricanes and Hot Tubs

No Current storms! Yay! 



Aug 28 Cone: Erika

Is Your Hot Tub in the Path of a Hurricane or Tropical Storm?

If’ the storm is heading your way, you are going to be busy preparing your home for the high winds and rain that accompany a hurricane. While you are picking up the yard, stowing all things that can blow and trying to alleviate hazards that could exist when the wind picks up, how should you prepare your hot tub for a hurricane? 

Electrical Tasks To Perform Before the Storm StrikesLightning_bolt

Electrical hazards  can be created by your hot tub’s equipment area flooding.  Also power surges and transformers exploding can  damage your sensitive electronics.   The easiest and quickest way to eliminate electrical hazards in your hot tub area is to turn off the breaker that controls the hot tub.  

If you are evacuating you are probably already shutting off your main breaker to the house. Be sure to include the hot tub breaker at the main panel as well.  (In fact, a good practice is to turn all individual circuit breakers off.)   Even if you are not evacuating, always, turn off the breaker to your hot tub.  If you loose power completely, when it is restored, you do not want your hot tub to come on without your observation.  There are often intermittent power outages and surges during a storm.  You really don’t want to put your hot tub through those electrical surges and voltage drops.  Turning off the breaker is the thing to do prior to high winds and rain.

Don't Drain, It can Float

Don’t Drain, It can Float

Do NOT Drain Your Hot Tub

If wind and water is coming for you.. do not drain your hot tub!  In fact,  leave it full.  You want the weight of it.  It may overflow but that’s better than it blowing over, or floating away (yes.. that can happen!)

Keep Your Spa Cover From Becoming a flying missile

You may have to rely on more than your locking straps to keep your cover on your hot tub.  Reinforce the locking straps on the spa cover with additional  ratcheting straps to hold it in place. These straps should be placed length and width and possibly doubled up. You want to try and keep wind from getting under the spa cover.  If you are using a  tarp or an over cover, be sure it is tightly strapped down around the outside edge.  Hot tub covers easily become giant flying objects that can damage your home or your neighbors home.  Tie it down tight!  If for any reason you can not secure your hot tub cover, Your best bet would be to bring it inside so it does not become a hazard if it blows off.  If you are concerned about the cover being damaged you can put a piece plywood down on top of the cover and use your ratcheting locking straps to secure it tightly to the spa.  Don’t even think about using bungee cords or anything less than multiple strong ratcheting straps for this.

Hot Tub Water Chemistry Before the storm

It can’t hurt to add a little chlorine bleach or granular sodium dichlor to the tub before the storm. This is not critical, the tub will probably need to be drained after the storm but it is a supply of water that you may be grateful to have as a water source for flushing toilets etc if you lose water supply.

Protecting Your Hot Tub From Windblown Debris

The standard practice of picking up all objects from your yard is important when trying to protect your hot tub.  Obviously, in the worst case scenarios there will be flying debris in the air no

matter what you do to prepare at your own property.  But even though a hurricane may threaten you, you never really know where exactly it’s going to come ashore.  The Hurricane Flags can be flying for your area and you may fear a direct hit,  but 10 miles can make huge difference in the severity of a hurricane over your house!  You always want to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. There is nothing you can do about the 100 year old oak tree that succumbs to the hurricane forces and lands on your hot tub.  But, you can keep your trash cans, lawn furniture potted plants etc from battering your house or hot tub in a more minor storm event.

Your Hot Tub After the Hurricane

Before the hot tub is energized after a storm you will want to  inspect it for damage, and signs of flooding before you energize. Let it dry out for a few days too.   You also will want to observe it’s start up procedures.  If you believe your hot tub  equipment area has been flooded,  Do not energize the hot tub circuit at all.  You can usually tell this by the debris line or water line in the equipment area.  If there are signs that pump motors or control systems have been underwater DO NOT ENERGIZE.  The equipment is most likely ruined and will have to be replaced.

Don’t energize your hot tub If the area around the hot tub still has standing water. You want to be sure that the area is dry before attempting a start up. Electrical shock can occur if there are problems with the hot tub equipment.   Again, check for water levels at the equipment area before attempting a start up.

Prayers and Best Wishes to all Readers!

I know you wouldn’t be here at all, if you weren’t being threatened by a hurricane.  My best wishes to you.  Please let me know your experiences of  the storm.. As a Florida native,  I’ve prepared for 12 storms in my life, and never experienced a direct hit.  I’ve had power outages, wind and rain,  trees down but never serious damage.  I pray your experience is the same!

If you have a hot tub and are looking for a cover,  you can learn how to order spa and hot tub covers here