Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Destin, Florida ~ Day trips Eden State Gardens ~ Almost Paradise

Eden Gardens State Park 

Being a Southern Girl, I love my azaleas in the spring time! 
We don't have many azaleas in Destin, but we can get our 'azalea fix' during their peak blooming season at Eden Gardens State Park, just a short drive east of Destin. 

The focal point of this 161-acre park is a beautifully renovated home
with elegant white columns and a wrap-around porch
surrounded by moss-draped live oaks and ornamental gardens. 
The main attraction is the mansion's grounds.  
Ancient camellias and azaleas are a riot of color during the spring. 

There is also a heritage rose garden, butterfly garden and a reflection 
pond reminiscent of the era of hoop skirts and landed gentry.

The Wesley house was built on property near their thriving sawmill in 1897 
and was a tranquil setting for the Wesleys and their nine children.

It was built as a Victorian home, but was converted into a Classic Revival 
home in the 1960's after it was purchased for $12,500.

The home was given to the state of Florida on Christmas Eve 1968.

There are so many interesting day trips you can take while you are in Destin. 
It's fun to get out and explore more of our area!
We will be featuring more of them on our blog.

Visit our website to see our beach vacation rentals in Destin.

Email: for rates & availability.

Phone:  850.543.9239

We're saving a seat for you!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Destin, Florida ~ Jewelry designs inspired by the sugar white beaches & emerald green waters of Destin.

I’m thrilled to share this gifted artist’s story with you; her love affair with Destin & how she found her Muse here.

When I discovered Vena’s stunning creations - all inspired by Destin - and wanted to feature her story on my blog, I asked her to send me a short bio, which she did.  As I read the story of her struggles and her determination to create her art, with tears falling on my keyboard,  I knew that I had to post her story in her own words.

Here in her own words is Vena's journey towards Destin.

My Family:
My husband is a disabled Vet who loves Destin nearly as much as I do. My daughter who lives on Eglin AFB is going to school to become a nurse. My other daughter is already a nurse. My son lives at Eglin. We are all looking forward to living our lives out on the Emerald Coast. 

My Journey: 
In 2004 a friend of mine told me about these beautiful glass beads that a co-workers daughter was making. I had never heard of such a thing. Several weeks later a craft show came to town and the person she had told me about was showing her glass beads. I instantly became intrigued with the idea of melting glass to make something beautiful. Hobby Lobby had beginner’s kit for lampworking and for Mother's Day that year I gifted myself with the kit. I have to admit I was scared to death lighting the torch the first time. I found myself holding my breath until I nearly passed out. The only way I managed to know how to even begin making a bead was with a beginner book I purchased at the same time as the kit. My first bead was pathetic, but I was hooked!! There was something about the feel of the glass and being able to move it around a tiny stainless steel rod that grabbed me. It wasn't long, maybe a few weeks or so, before I knew that beginner kit wasn't going to satisfy me. I started researching the Internet and ordering more books, videos and equipment. Before long I had professional equipment and I was making beads that were good enough to sell on Ebay.

Pirate Booty

In 2005 I had the opportunity to open a storefront in a little tourist town nearby. I had a wonderful little shop that grabbed everyone's attention from miles around and I had a very good clientele. Between Ebay and my storefront I had sold beads and jewelry to customers all over the world. Within months of opening my shop I developed severe bi-lateral carpal tunnel and a disc in my neck herniated into my spinal cord all at the same time. I had to have the surgery to repair both hands and my neck. This forced me to close down my shop and it took me nearly a year for my hands to heal.  During that year, I felt like I would never be able to work with glass again and I sold all my equipment to a dear friend. Several more months passed and I couldn't quit thinking about how much I missed glass. I vowed to find a way to once again get my hands nimble enough to work with molten glass. I had a friend that sent me a beginner torch to practice with. Once again, I was off and running. I worked long hard hours to get my skills back. Of course by this time I had lost my entire clientele. Unfortunately, during this time hundreds of other people started making glass beads and selling them for next to nothing on Ebay. It was flooded with Chinese imports and cheap newbie beads. I had to start from nothing and try to build my business back. Slowly but surely I started getting repeat customers again. I eventually purchased new equipment and got my business back on track.

Shifting Sands

Then in January of 2007 I was rear ended at a red light. My cervical fusion started giving me big problems due to the severe whiplash I received during the accident. I had several months of rehab and once again I couldn't work and once again my business suffered.  Since then I've been slowly building my business up. I've never had the opportunity to attend any classes. I'm totally self-taught from books, videos, trial and error. During my bead making journey I decided to use my beads to create my own jewelry. I was selling to designers all over the world so I decided to try my hand at jewelry design. I enjoyed the ability to make my own beads to create one- of- a- kind pieces of jewelry. I slowly moved away from selling just beads.

Island Party

I struggled with finding my voice in my designs. Everyone loved my jewelry and I thought it was very pretty, but I wasn't really satisfied. When I would sit down at the torch I had an inner conflict with myself on what I should be making. Should I be making the same type beads that everyone else was selling or should I go my own way? But what was my own way? I didn't have a clue. Then in June of 2008 I came to Eglin AFB to visit my daughter and grandchildren. She took me to Destin and when we came over the bridge I lost my breath. I couldn't believe what I saw. I was in total shock and completely mesmerized. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I don't think I could even speak. From that moment forward I found my voice in my art. When I came back from my visit and started working in my studio everything started to come together. I no longer doubted myself nor my work. I was creating pieces of my memories from paradise (Destin). Ideas flooded my mind. I was finally happy with my work. My soul started coming out in my glass. Since June of 2008 there hasn't been a day that I haven't cried for Destin. I know it sounds silly, but my heart actually aches for the Emerald Coast. I vowed when I came back to Texas that somehow, someway, someday I would live in Paradise. For the first time in my life I knew where my home was in this world. Each day of my life is spent creating these little treasures of my memories of the Emerald Coast. I pray this is the year I get to live my dream of living in Destin and selling my jewelry to those that share my love.


I hope this helps you to know my a little better. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Thanks again for supporting me and my art.

Vena Sensenbaugh

Visit the beaches of Destin, Florida for your inspiration!

To see our beach vacation rentals click this link:

Email for rates and availability:

Phone:  850.543.9239