Ocala Style | February 2023

Page 1

the HOME

FEB ‘23 issue

Turning Hawk Ranches

Gorgeous home nestled on 5+/- acres in gated community with access to the Florida Greenways and Trails for riding, hiking, biking and strolling. You are also close to the Florida Horse Park, World Equestrian Center and city conveniences. Beautifully designed kitchen boasts custom maple cabinetry and gorgeous views of the property. Family room with Italian marble fireplace, natural light and French doors that open onto the veranda, perfect for year-round gatherings. Office/study with built-in custom cabinetry. The theater/media room provides extra space for family fun or hobbies. The backyard offers lush mature landscaping. Classic architectural detailing throughout adds character and warmth to this stunning home, delivering a relaxed sense of elegance and style.

Gated entrance leads past beautiful granddaddy oaks on a winding drive to this two-lot property with no deed restrictions. 3-Bedroom, 2-bath home features a family room with stone fireplace, kitchen with breakfast nook, formal dining and den, all of which offer beautiful views of the farm. The master suite is located on the main floor, with Jack and Jill bedrooms on the second floor. Attached is a 2-car garage and there is also a detached 3-car garage, in which one bay could easily be converted into living quarters. 48’ x 50’ Metal building. Perimeter fenced with new three-board fencing and paddocks. Property is zoned A-1 so you can have horses, cattle or other animals. Located just minutes from the Florida Horse Park and the Florida Greenways and Trails.

Our results speak for themselves. List with Joan today!
Joan Pletcher, Realtor 352.804.8989
11+ Acres in SE Ocala $1,447,000 $1,095,000

The Lakes at Lady Lake

This amazing, renovated home overlooks the golf course. As you enter, you are surrounded with vaulted ceilings, natural light and luxury finishes. The living area offers an open floor plan that opens to family room, dining area and kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Luxurious chef’s kitchen is equipped with custom-built cabinets and a large center island perfect for entertaining family and friends. The home has been completely renovated with countless upgrades and features, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a flex space that is currently being used as an office/exercise area. The primary suite offers a sitting area and spacious bath. The back screen enclosed porch allows for beautiful views of the golf course.

30+/- Acres close to World Equestrian Center “WEC,” HITS and The Florida Horse Park. Perfect for hunter/jumpers and eventers. Centrally located with easy access to Hwy 200. Bring your horses! Southern style home, 3,900+ SF of living area, 3 bedrooms, 4 baths, plus screen enclosed pool. Updates include smart house system, upgraded security system, and new HVAC. Covered front porch is perfect for relaxing or watching your horses play and graze in lush paddocks. Equestrians will enjoy the 5-stall stable, plus equipment/storage room. Various sized paddocks, run-in sheds and automatic waterers. Two 2 bedroom/2 bath guest/employee houses. Additional features include generators, 3 wells and a wrought iron fenced area for your pets.

Horse Lovers Paradise
$3,750,000 Just Reduced

Private and desirable! Drive into the scenic northwest Ocala area and you will find beautiful country living–perfect for Thoroughbred, Quarter horse, Hunter/Jumper, Eventer, Paso Fino or even cattle enthusiasts. Unique 38+/- acre property just minutes to WEC and HITS. Beautiful vistas from every view, lush pastures with impressive granddaddy oaks and mature landscaping. The 4-bedroom, 3 ½-bath main residence features open kitchen, spacious living room with impressive stone fireplace and built-in bookcases. Family room offers access to screen enclosed lanai and pool area while overlooking lush green pastures. Enjoy the grand owner’s bedroom, plus three more bedrooms and a private office. The equine facilities include a 12-stall stable with tack room, feed room, wash bay plus 1/1 apartment. Second story allows for hay storage. Covered parking on each side of the barn for horse trailer and other items of your choice. Large 3-bay equipment building has workshop and RV hook-up. Nice 4-bedroom, 2-bath residence for farm manager and family. The lush fields are perfect for grazing with just the right number of scattered oaks for shade and a tranquil setting. $4,500,000

Pecan Hill Farm

Expect an unparalleled combination of professionalism, integrity and relentless commitment to her client’s unique needs, interests, and desires.

Joan is a residential, equine property and land development REALTOR® since 1985 and a horsewoman herself so her clients have the benefit of experience and specialized expertise.

“The Ocala region is home to the most beautiful equestrian estates and horse farms in the United States and the natural beauty of the area, along with an amazing variety of equine-centered activities and venues, such as the phenomenal new World Equestrian Center, makes this a place that more and more people want to call home,” says Joan.

Pecan Hill Farm
What should you expect working with Joan Pletcher? Call or
Text: 352.266.9100

Publisher’s Note

or many of us, our home is our refuge. A place to rest, find comfort and express our unique selves. That is one reason our annual Home Issue is so much fun, as that’s when friends and neighbors open their homes and hearts to let us in.

Marti and Chris Wenzler graciously welcomed us inside their mid-century modern home, which incorporated bricks from the historic Ocala House Hotel into the unique architectural design. The two art lovers have tweaked a few things to make their home, which was built by one of the founders of Fine Arts For Ocala (FAFO), into an Urban Oasis that is a joy to behold.

With each new year comes new opportunities to freshen up our home décor. We identified some of the hot trends for 2023 and asked local experts to tell us about Mixing It Up. It’s a fun read and includes comments about Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year, a vivid Raspberry Blush, and 1-800-Flowers.com’s Flower of the Year, which is the orchid.

And, since the kitchen is the heart of the home, our resident foodie Jill Paglia shares some Southern Comfort recipes from hers that will feed your tummy and your soul.

Looking for a home? In this month’s issue you can meet some of our community’s Leading Realtors and hear their philosophy on navigating one of the most important purchases many of us will ever make.

As we were sending this month’s issue to print, our team had a vision of you curled up in your favorite chair, perusing these pages and finding inspiration for your own home.


ELEVATE YOUR LIVING Retire in style. Whether it’s fine dining and luxury spa experiences or endless events and personalized care you’re seeking, our luxury senior living communities have you covered. This is HarborChase. Come celebrate with us.

Publisher | Jennifer Hunt Murty jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

WILDWOOD (352) 251-0418 VILLAGES CROSSING ( 352) 987-8511 GAINESVILLE ( 352) 661-2650


Amy Harbert amy@magnoliamediaco.com


Bruce Ackerman Sharon Crute Judy Green Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan Maven Photo + Film Dave Miller Scott Mitchell Michael Nardino


Jordan Shapot David Vallejo



Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com

CREATIVE CONSULTANT Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Greg Hamilton greg@magnoliamediaco.com


Yohanna Alvarez-Giboyeaux Julie Garisto

JoAnn Guidry Jennie Holland Belea Keeney Jennifer Largo Scott Mitchell Jill Paglia Kay Rains Suzanne Rice Sara Russell Dave Schlenker Mary Weaver Beth Whitehead


Magnolia Media Company, LLC (352) 732-0073 Explore Senior Living at HarborChase

PO Box 188, Ocala, FL 34478 Specializing in trauma-informed therapy, relationship challenges, and life transitions.

Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Ron Eddy ron@magnoliamediaco.com

D istribution
Rick Shaw Art
CLIENT SERVICES GURU Cheryl Specht cheryl@magnoliamediaco.com ocalastyle.com ocalastyle ocalastylemagazine ocalastyle CAROLINE KING COUNSELING individual + couples therapy Caroline King, MA, RMHCI caroline@ckingcounseling.com www.ckingcounseling.com 352.509.5576

in this issue


The Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research want to help cure the disease. 21


Dr. Steve Anton will lecture at IHMC on February 23rd. 23


These pros have expertise in residential, commercial and horse properties. 32


This couple’s home has a unique connection to the history of the Brick City. 40 MIXING IT UP

We explore some interior designs for 2023, with advice from area experts. 49

CAPTURING THE THOROUGHBRED SPIRIT Artist Sharon Crute’s paintings showcase the noble equines. 55 SOUTHERN COMFORT Jill Paglia dishes up some salty and sweet Southern staples. 59 SCHLENKERISMS

Dave says we should take a note from the Book of Janet 60 COMFY CABINS Silver Springs State Park offers accommodations close to nature. 62 CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT Sara Russell shares some of her favorite things. 63 RUP (RESIST THE URGE TO PRUNE) As tempting as it might be to get out in your yard and start chopping, please don’t.

ON THE COVER: The home of Marti and Chris Wenzler

Photo by: John Jernigan

This page: Top and bottom, by John Jernigan middle, courtesy of sharon crute

32 49 55 17

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Social Scene

Photo by Bruce Ackerman Mary Sue Rich and Ruth E. Reed cut the ribbon to dedicate the new community center and campus that are named in their honor.

Ribbon Cutting

The new community center, which will offer activities for youth, families and seniors, and the property on which it sits, are named in honor of Mary Sue Rich, a longtime Ocala City Councilwoman, and Ruth E. Reed, a retired teacher and community activist. Hundreds of people were on hand for the January 10th celebration.

8 ocalastyle.com
MARY SUE RICH COMMUNITY CENTER AT REED PLACE Photos by Bruce Ackerman Aryana Griffin and Vanesha McCray Jessie Miller and Ruth Reed, the daughter of Ruth E. Reed
Altamese Kiner, Lorene Raines-Cloud, Delorse Wise and Johnnie Jones
February ‘23 9 INSIDER
Among the guests were city and county officials Barbara Fitos, Julie Sieg and Scott Hackmyer Yvonne Hayes Hinson and Mary Sue Rich Ire Bethea Ruth Reed and Pete Lee

Documentary Film Premiere

The tiny therapy horse Magic, arriving in a limo and wearing a tuxedo, was the star of the show at the December 7th premiere of Hero Horse: A Magical True Story. The event was a fundraiser to support the Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses elementary school reading programs.

10 ocalastyle.com
Gary and Pauline Hartogh with Magic and Jorge Bengochea Jorge Bengochea, Debbie Garcia-Bengochea and Louisa Barton with Magic Cienne Warren with Magic Mac McLachlan and Ghislaine Haynes
Dr. Katherine O’Brien and Dr. Alberto Rullan with Magic

On the Scene


Circle Square Cultural Center, Ocala Feb. 3

Elvis tribute artist Cote Deonath headlines an energetic tribute to the King and partners with other artists for tributes to Buddy Holly, the Blues Brothers, Frank Sinatra and others. The show will benefit Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. Tickets are $15-$100. See habitatocala.org/elvisconcert for more info.


Downtown Ocala Feb. 3

Check out local artists and craftspeople and hear live music on the gazebo stage and from buskers playing on the streets. Visit downtown eateries or food vendors. Stores are open late for shopping. For more info, ocalafl.org



Florida Horse Park Feb. 3-5

Grandview Clydesdales hosts its annual invitational event with more than 150 teams of Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgians. There’s nothing quite like the thunder of dozens of 2,000-pound horses in one arena. Tickets range from $20-$145. Visit grandviewinvitational.com for details.


Reilly Arts Center Feb. 3, 10, 11 & March 4

If you grew up in the ‘70s, then check out Fleetwood Mac Rumours on Feb. 3; Creedence

Revived on Feb. 10; the Alter Eagles on Feb. 11; and Absolute Queen on Mar. 4. Tickets range from $25-$45. See reillyartscenter.com for more info.


Florida Horse Park

Feb. 5, 12, 19 & 26

You can get up close with the equine athletes and their riders as you tailgate near the fence lines. Chairs are suggested, food and drink are encouraged and tents are available for rent. For more information, visit ocalapolo.com


World Equestrian Center Feb. 9-11

This world-class draft horse show is a follow-up to the AdventHealth Grandview Invitational. Tickets range from $35-$100 with VIP packages available. Also on tap is the World of Red Valentine’s Day party on Feb. 11, with tickets at $75. For more info, grandviewworldnights.com

February ‘23 11
A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events
Photos by Bruce Ackerman


Circle Square Cultural Center

Feb. 10, 18 & 24

Classic Stones Live boasts Mick Jagger’s swagger as part of the show on Feb. 10. Stayin’ Alive: One Night of the Bee Gees should have you dancing on Feb. 18. On Feb. 24 will be Hollywood Nights: The Bob Seger Experience. Tickets range from $31-$34. Learn more at csculturalcenter.com


World Equestrian Center

Feb. 11-12

The event includes guest artists and actors, a vendor alley and presentations. Tickets on Saturday are $45; $35 on Sunday; or $60 for a weekend pass, from brickcityanimefestival.com


Feb. 11

Cowboys will herd Florida Cracker cattle from Southeast 8th Street through downtown,

then north to Tuscawilla Park. The party starts there with live music, demonstrations, craft vendors, food trucks and activities for youth. The Marion Rotary Duck Derby will raise money for the Discovery Center and charities. Adopt a duck for $5, a “quack pack” of six for $25 or a flock of 24 for $100. For more info, duckrace.com/Ocala and ocalafl.org


Greater Ocala Dog Club Show Grounds Feb. 18

The 21st annual fundraiser for the dog rescue will include a 50/50 raffle, a DJ, vendors, basset hound games, longest ears contest, hot dog toss, lure course and Waddle Parade. Dogs will be available for adoption. For more info, suncoastbassetrescue.org


Silver River Museum Campus Feb. 18-19

Specialists in native skills will showcase their talents in this 12th annual knap-in,

CF.edu/Preview | 352-873-5800 –an equal opportunity college–Tuesday, Feb. 28 5-7 p.m. | Ocala Campus 3001 S.W. College Road ✓ LEARN about academic programs. ✓ MEET with clubs and organizations. ✓ FIND OUT about student services. ✓ GET HELP with admissions and financial aid. ✓ PLAN your college experience. ✓ APPLY for FREE at the event! Come explore the possibilities!Day

with flint knappers, archaeologists, potters, hide tanners, canoe carvers and others demonstrating their crafts. Admission is $8; free ages 5 and younger. The museum currently features the Dugout Canoes: Paddling Through the Americas exhibit. For

more details, visit silverrivermuseum.com


McPherson Governmental Complex Feb. 25

The 13th annual car show will feature entertainment, a bounce house, food and drink vendors, craft booths, antique vendors, DJ and more. Car entry proceeds ($15 to pre-register by Feb. 15; $20 at the gate) will benefit Marion County charities. For more info, email jwicklein@mariontax.com


Reilly Arts Center

Feb. 25 & 26

Musical scores are part of orchestral music’s contribution to modern culture and you will be sure to recognize the movie hits in this special concert. Composers include Hans Zimmer, Maurice Jarre, Bernard Herrmann and John Williams. Tickets are $15 - $40 from reillyartscenter.com

Mardi Gras Parade of Flavors, Feb. 1 – March 31

El Toreo

3790 E Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala

(352) 694-1401 › 7 days 11a-10p

SR 200, Ocala (352) 291-2121 › 7 days 11a-11p

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

24 SE 1st Avenue, Ocala

(352) 840-0900 › hookedonharrys.com Mon-Thu 11a-9p › Fri & Sat 11a-10p › Sun 11a-8p

Head to El Toreo for the best Mexican food this side of the border! Enjoy all of your favorite traditional Mexican dishes in a friendly and festive atmosphere.
Mondays and Wednesdays, Margaritas are $2 Saturdays, 2 for 1 Margaritas All Day Dine-in or take out available
Happy Hour Specials: 2-7p every day $4 Draft Beer $5 House Wine & Premium Cocktails $6 Super Premium & $7 Harry’s Signature Cocktails Located in the heart of downtown Ocala, Harry’s offers traditional Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish, Louisiana Gumbo and Garden District Grouper. Other favorites, like French Baked Scallops and Bourbon Street Salmon, are complemented with grilled steaks, chicken, burgers,
boy sandwiches and salads. Their full bar features Harry’s Signature
such as the
or the Cool Goose Martini. They also feature wines by the glass and a wide selection of imported, domestic and craft beer.
Harry’s Hurricane, Bayou
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g o t
Photo Credit: Luxury Bath Technologies

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Stokes continues, “In addition, our homeowners experience the expertise and guidance from one of our professional inhome design consultants who guides our customers with a plethora of innovative concepts from eco-friendly, energyefficient, high-end quality materials, to sources for funding their project. The creative process engages our customers in a way that has not been made available until now. Technology has put us in a unique position, not only as a home improvement company, but with integrated tools and a customer-centric approach that creates renderings of the completed project for our customers in real time all before the project begins."

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Cancer Conscious

In 1986, Theresa Castro, the wife of Bernard Castro, the inventor of the Castro Convertible sofa and founder of the Golden Hills Country Club in Ocala, brought together a group of local women with the dream of finding a cure for cancer. A year later, in February of 1987, she founded the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit raises funds that are donated to cancer research through the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the UF Health Cancer Center in Gainesville.

“Our mission is by raising money to fund research in our two institutions here in Florida, that we can get closer to a cure for cancer,” says President Patricia Sokol. “There are so many cancers. So, we have a lot of work to do. And we’ve done very well so far.”

Since its founding, the Ocala Royal Dames organization has donated more than $4 million

to cancer research. Currently, the program model is that every two years, five successful research applicants split $140,000.

One of the success stories is the breakthrough drug Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug used to combat various types of cancers, the two most common being melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. It is not chemotherapy or radiation therapy but, when paired with typical cancer treatments, is proven to lower the risk of disease progression by almost 50 percent with certain cancers.

“We helped do the initial bench work, the study to get to the immunotherapy to get to Keytruda,” Sokol, herself a cancer survivor, explains. “Now, the success rate, especially when they can get it early, is amazing.”

The group seeks to fund projects that produce tangible results and generally avoids funding clinical trials as they take longer and are more

February ‘23 17
The Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research nonprofit is on a mission to help cure the disease.
By Beth Whitehead | Photo courtesy of Judy Green Donna Crippen, Bern Paradiso and Patricia Sokol

2606 Southwest 19th Ave. Rd. • (352) 789-3394 Mon-Fri 10am-6pm • Sat. & Sun. 10am-5pm nutritioncenteroc.com

expensive. The group receives many proposals, like the one for Keytruda, each year.

In 2022, they had 15 entities asking for funding. The proposals were reviewed by a “committee of lay people and also a medical advisory committee of physicians and one Ph.D. researcher,” Sokol shares. After the proposals are reviewed, the board of trustees votes on the recipients.

“We want to make sure that it is something that can be replicated and continue on,” Sokol outlines.

Sokol says a goal for 2023 is to secure enough money to start selecting six recipients in each funding cycle.

Sokol says that spreading the word about the progress in developing a cure for cancer is not just crucial to their mission but is a joy to share.

“I just think the Ocala Royal Dames is the best kept secret in Ocala and Marion County,” she offers.

Bernadette Castro, the daughter of Theresa and Bernard, is a successful businesswoman who has long had a presence in Ocala and New York City. She shares her mother and Sokol’s passion for defeating cancer.

“From my teenage years, I always heard my mother saying, ‘We have to find a cure for cancer,’” she notes.

She says she watched her mother found the Royal Dames of Cancer Research in Fort Lauderdale, raising money for Rumbaugh-Goodwin Institute at Nova Southeastern University, and then found the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research upon their family’s move to Marion County.

“I observed firsthand Mom’s passion for the cause,” Castro continues. “It was contagious. She ignited the energy of wonderful women to pick up the torch and light the way on the critical journey to find a cure for cancer.”

The Ocala Royal Dames group also partners with the College of Central Florida through endowments, scholarships, seminars and library resources.

The nonprofit, which is overseen by a volunteer board, currently has around 200 members, who pledge $2,500 for a life membership, payable over a period of 10 years.

Memberships and sponsorships are the key ways the Ocala Royal Dames raise money, but the bulk of the funding they donate to cancer research is raised through a signature annual black tie event. This year’s event is the Fire & Ice Casino Night Gala at the Circle Square Cultural Center on March 25th.

To learn more about the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research, visit ocalaroyaldames.org

DOING GOOD continued Sign up for free e-edition or paid print subscription at ocalagazette.com Be in the know–read local news!

A Passion For The Past

One of the most enjoyable and unique ways to see the natural splendor of the Silver River is on a private luxury boat tour with Captain Rob Manley. An added bonus is that he loves sharing his deep knowledge of the history of Silver Springs.

Rob, whose background includes being a yachtsman in south Florida, was a glass-bottom boat captain for a time and spent endless hours with the “old time” captains, who regaled him with information that only insiders would know.

“I love to tell the real stories,” he says with passion. “This is one of the most interesting things I have ever done—and I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of things.”

Captain Rob’s 22-foot Tri-toon pontoon boat offers comfortable and spacious seating, and there is a canopy for respite from the sun.

The 3-hour round trip tour can accommodate up to six passengers, each of whom has the captain’s attention as he shares a wealth of information about the river and the history of the Silver Springs attraction, such as the route of the original Jungle Cruise.

The captain also is very knowledgeable about the amazing wildlife, including the rhesus macaque monkeys that have been thriving in the area since the 1930s, when Colonel Tooey, who operated the Jungle Cruise, put them on a small island for his passengers to see. He thought

they couldn’t swim… and the rest is history.

Captain Rob’s tour guests often rave about hitting the “trifecta” of wildlife viewing, which is seeing Florida’s beloved manatees, the wild and comical monkeys and prehistoriclooking alligators all on one tour.

There are always sightings of a wide variety of birds, such as anhingas herons, egrets and moorhens, along with turtles lazing in the sun on the riverbanks and the flashing glint of fish darting beneath the surface of the crystal-clear water.

The tours launch from the Ocala Yacht Club at Ray Wayside Park, which is three miles east of the Silver Springs State Park on State Road 40, at the confluence of the Ocklawaha River.

“My luxury tours are just for your group, whether it’s six people or even just one,” says the captain. “I just love to be able to tell the real stories of the Silver River.”

Professional boat captain
offers historically-rich private luxury tours of the
Captain Rob Silver River Tours 9564 NE 28th Lane, Silver Springs (352) 663-2050 Captainrobsilverriver.com
Rob Manley
Silver River.

Healthy Aging

While growing up, Dr. Stephen Anton enjoyed playing outdoors amid the pines and lakes of his Odessa hometown, northwest of Tampa, where his father, a psychologist, and his mother, a mental health counselor, sparked his interest in mind and body health.

Anton later earned his doctorate in clinical and health psychology at the University of Florida, where he is now a tenured professor.

On February 23rd, Anton will speak about Lifestyle Approaches for Cellular Health at the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) in Ocala, sharing tips on how the frequency and content of our meals, as well as our exercise habits, can lengthen or shorten our lives.

How did Anton, 47, get inspired to focus on aging?

“I was on my postdoctoral fellowship and I was working in Baton Rouge and at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center working on a study called ‘The Calorie Trial,’ the first study to look at the effects of calorie restriction on biomarkers of aging in humans,” Anton shares. “Up until that point, I’d thought of calorie restriction for weight loss and not necessarily for influencing longevity. So, that study kind of opened my eyes to this connection between our dietary intake, our metabolism and potentially our rate of aging.”

— Dr. Stephen Anton

how multiple aspects of our lifestyle can affect our health through cellular processes that lead to growth, repair and resilience.

“I’ll cover some different dietary approaches, the role that fasting may have and then integrate information on other habits and/or factors that may influence the cellular process called hormesis, which is how our cells essentially become stronger through temporary stress,” he explains. “I’ll also talk about exercise, heat and cold exposure, and discuss what we’ve learned about these processes and how they may be key to longterm health.”

In 2015, Anton was recognized as a Master Mentor by UF’s Mentor Academy. In 2017, he was awarded a UF Term Professorship, a distinction awarded to top professors. He is single and says he likes living in Gainesville.

“I try to practice what I preach,” he notes. “I engage in intermittent fasting, make healthy dietary choices, get good sleep and exercise regularly, almost every day. I do weight training three or four times a week.”

And what does he do for fun?

“Specifically, I play ultimate Frisbee.”

The Ocala lecture, he said, will focus on

The lecture, which will take place at 15 SE Osceola Ave., will begin with a reception at 5:30pm. To register to attend, go to ihmc.us/life/evening_lectures/ ocala-lecture-series

February ‘23 21
Dr. Stephen Anton is the next guest speaker in the IHMC Ocala lecture series.
I’ll cover some different dietary approaches, the role that fasting may have and then integrate information on other habits and/or factors that may influence the cellular process.
Photo courtesy of IHMC
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Leading Realtors

With expertise in residential, commercial and horse properties, these real estate pros have the local know-how to meet your real estate goals. Sponsored

Valerie Dailey has been the owner and broker of Showcase Properties of Central Florida since 2013, making 2023 the 10-year anniversary under her leadership.

In those 10 years, Valerie has developed the company from fewer than 10 agents into a full-service independent brokerage with two locations, more than 40 agents, and a comprehensive set of support staff, including an administration team, transaction coordinators, a full-in house marketing team, and a Director of Real Estate.

“The goal has always been to provide the best service possible to our customers, and we think the best way to do that is by offering agents as much support as we can,” says Valerie. “We’ve put experts in place to help our REALTORS® with things they may not be comfortable with, like marketing themselves, and that allows them the peace of mind to focus on what matters most to their business—the relationships they build with customers and the community.”

In fact, Valerie considers relationships to be the backbone of Showcase. Each year, Showcase and its agents support a number of different organizations, charities, and events throughout the area through sponsorships, donations, and outreach.

“We’re very involved with our community,” Valerie shares, “and we try to give back as much as our community has given to us throughout the years.”

Leading Realtors Featured Listings
Showcase Properties of Central Florida Valerie@ShowcaseOcala.com (352) 816-1080 26+ Acre Horse Farm 12005 NW 35th Street, Ocala, FL 34482 $2,200,000 • OM649258 30-Acre Horse Farm 855 E. Highway 316, Citra, FL 32113 $2,100,000 • OM638861 Horse Park Lane 1001 SW 123rd Place, Lots 1 & 2, Ocala, FL 34473 $964,040 • OM637649 Valerie DAILEY

Elisha LOPEZ

Elisha Lopez is the broker and owner of Ocala Realty World, which is routinely among the Top 10 Brokerages in Marion County for the last 10 years. She is a licensed Florida real estate instructor and the founder of the ORW School of Real Estate with her husband and business partner, Luis.

Her expertise and leadership recently earned Elisha the prestigious cover article in Exeleon Magazine’s “Transformational Leaders In Real Estate” issue. The editors noted in the profile that every decision we make says something about who we are.

“For most people, these decisions are weighed down by external influence and approval, taking away the most important aspect behind such decisions—authenticity,” they wrote. “At the heart of it, being authentic requires three key aspects—vulnerability, transparency and integrity. This authenticity is what makes Elisha Lopez a transformational leader.”

The article notes that for Elisha, being a strong and powerful woman comes down to being willing to make a meaningful change in her industry or in her business, while inspiring others to do the same.

“Elisha emphasizes the importance of not changing who you are at your core or changing your principle and standards on the basis of what others think you should be,” the article notes.

“Even if being your authenticself causes conflict at times, at the end of the day you have to be happy with yourself,” Elisha says.

Leading Realtors Featured Listings
Ocala Realty World OcalaRealtyWorld@gmail.com (352)
5829 SW 83RD LN $404,500 Almost brand new 4/2/2 located in the SW 200 corridor just mins away from I-75 and The World Equestrian Center. 8626 S LAKESHORE PT $599,900 Quiet and Peaceful 21.81 acres in Floral City on dead end road surrounded by nature and Lake Bradley. Main home is 3bd/3bth with 2400 sqft under air. Can be subdivided. 2312 SE 20TH CR $298,000 3/2/2 This tastefully updated home has an amazing outdoor living space, huge kitchen with granite counters, beautiful cabinets with custom inserts & minutes from shopping and restaurants.


Ocala Business Brokers, Inc. connie@ocalabb.com

Connie Ann Pendleton started her career selling businesses years ago in her hometown of Key West. She is quick to credit her late mother for getting her into the business of helping others buy or sell their own businesses.

Connie opened Ocala Business Brokers in 2008 and has a diverse team that includes a local attorney, seasoned realtor, awesome assistant and Gary Smith, a Business Broker who was a former client. Her expertise has made Connie one of the most sought-after Business Brokers in Florida and she has received numerous awards for her productivity.

Connie is a state officer for Business Brokers of Florida, president of Ocala Business Leaders, an ambassador with the Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership and sits on several committees.

She is a strong believer and is a facilitator for a women’s Bible study and member of Ocala Christian Church. She loves spending time with her granddaughter, family members and friends, and is very active in the community.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a business, Connie Pendleton is the “GO TO” professional for business evaluations and consultations.

“My passion is helping others exit and enter their next season of life,” she says.

Leading Realtors Featured Listings
Mid Florida Physical Therapy SOLD Ollie’s Frozen Custard SOLD Kids City USA (formerly Small Talk Early Learning Center) business and property. SOLD
(352) 502-3811


(352) 804-8989

Joan and members of her family are equine enthusiasts as well as developers, so she understands the unique needs and desires of discerning clients who are seeking their first home, a luxury estate or top-level farm in the Horse Capital of the World. With more than $160,000,000 in local real estate listings, Joan has earned a reputation as the region’s top seller and most trusted expert for luxury estates, horse farms and land.

She has built her legendary track record of success by exhibiting an unparalleled combination of professionalism, integrity, and relentless commitment to her clients, and by developing a personal relationship with each client and focusing on their unique needs, interests and desires.

She believes the Ocala region is home to the most beautiful equestrian estates and horse farms in the United States and that the natural beauty of the area, along with an amazing variety of equine-centered activities and venues, such as the phenomenal World Equestrian Center, Florida Horse Park, and Florida Greenways and Trails make this a place where more and more people want to call home.

“What drives me is the smile and the happiness I see on the face of my clients when they walk on the right property for them,” she says. “That is my passion.”


Leading Realtors
Specializing in Estates and Equestrian Estates. Vacant, Land, Farms and Training Centers. Large or Small –we can help you with your Real Estate needs.


Nikki Serrano knows that Global is the new Local and has been gearing for this shift from the founding of Stellar Real Estate Agency.

Nikki is part of a global network of luxury agents who are advised by futurists, are empowered by relationships and who continue to be lifestyle focused, which allows her to match buyers and sellers in a manner unavailable to agents in a local market alone.

Along with being a Certified Luxury Home Specialist, she treats real estate with a combination of experience and education that allows her to take a strategic approach of combining market trends and client expectations towards every transaction, helping her clients make a more informed and confident decision.

Her diverse background, education, and deep roots are important, but combined with her enthusiasm, integrity, reliability, and negotiation skills Nikki expresses a dedication to fulfill her client’s wishes with a passion second to none.

“Representing clients comes down to excellence and integrity”. She enjoys walking clients through what can be a very emotional and stressful time and implementing a concierge service approach.

“The Client is always right,” she offers. “And working on their behalf is what drives me. Knowing I secured a deal firmly in my client’s favor, or that I held a deal together that would have fallen apart, is something that I love. I pride myself in helping my clients achieve their goals.”

Leading Realtors Featured Listings
Stellar Real Estate Agency
(352) 585-1562

Melissa Townsend entered the industry in 2016 and was mentored by Richard Schleicher, founder and, at that time, broker and owner of It’s All About You…Real Estate, LLC. She dedicated herself to providing exceptional customer service, believing wholeheartedly in the brokerage name and its culture.

In early 2022, she purchased the brokerage with the goal of continuing to develop the brand that Rich created—a specialized, boutique brokerage that offers an unparalleled level of service with an exceptional network of resources in lending, insurance, and the construction trades.

“I leverage my community resources to achieve my customer’s goals,” Melissa says. “I have an extensive list of tradespeople who can help in preparing properties to sell, assist buyers in developing their remodeling budgets, and make repairs in a cost effective and timely manner when needs arise during a contract’s inspection period.”

“My father was a general contractor who took me to work with him during school breaks,” she adds. “At a young age I learned to appreciate fi ne craft smanship, the importance of clear communication, and the value of key relationships.”

As a result of her professionalism, diligence, and knowledge, Melissa and her brokerage have a reputation for buying and selling unique properties.

Leading Realtors Featured Listings
It’s All About You…Real
3791 W. Hwy. 316, Reddick Home with 5-bedrooms and 2.5 baths; on 7.63 acres with storage barn. $589,900 PENDING 3300 SE 183rd Ave. Road, Ocklawaha 3/2 Pool home on 15 acres; with workshop building overlooking Lake Bryant marsh. $535,000 2216 SE 13th St, Ocala 2+ Acre downtown estate property; 5-bedroom, 6-bath home with spectacular pool. $1,550,000 PENDING Melissa TOWNSEND
Melissa@YourOcalaRealEstate.com (352) 304-5687


Showcase Properties of Central Florida

DavidWilliamsRealtor@live.com (352) 895-1000

David Williams has more than four decades of experience in the real estate industry, the majority of which were spent right here in Marion County.

As a REALTOR with Showcase Properties of Central Florida since 2014, David is a licensed Florida real estate broker who has also earned his GRI, CRE and AHWD designations.

As a former mortgage broker and property and casualty insurance broker and current CCIM member, David’s diverse experience in real estate and fi nance make for a great asset to buyers and sellers alike, with commercial and residential properties.

“Real estate is my passion, and excellence is my business,” says David. “My gratitude goes out to Valerie Dailey, the entire Showcase team, and all of my clients over the many years I’ve spent in real estate.”

Leading Realtors Featured Listings
35 Acres in Gold Medal Farms 23536 NW 27th Street, Morriston, FL 32668 SOLD IN 24 DAYS OM615237 * Sold for $340,000 SOLD 27+ Acres Zoned M-1 NW 68th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34474 OM602972 * Sold for $1,080,000 SOLD 22+ Acres Zoned M-1 TBD NE 24th Street, Ocala, FL 34470 $1,500,000 * OM637458


Meet the Ocala couple who built upon a historic home's distinct features to create an artsy and cozy haven.

It is said that a home has “good bones” when the foundation is sturdy, it was crafted using quality materials, it has good size rooms, lots of natural light, solid flooring, unique details and sits on a nice lot in a desirable location. Add to that some intriguing historical aspects and you have the fabulous mid-century modern home of Marti and Chris Wenzler.

Nestled on a lushly landscaped cul de sac lot in southeast Ocala, the home commands attention with its peaked rooflines and massive windows.

Marti, a national accounts manager for an industrial parts distributor, and Chris, vice president of field sales for Signature Brands, Inc., purchased the home in May of 2019. It was built in 1973 by Jack and Dorothy Clark, co-founders of Fine Arts For Ocala (FAFO).

“Jack was a developer and commissioned a residence from Angus Andre McCrae, an architect from McIntosh,” Chris shares. “We have the original blueprints and several working drawings. It is a fantastic build for its age. The home was built to be a showplace for entertaining and artwork.”

The main section is flanked by twin wings and there is a spacious basement, as well as a large garage with a second-floor apartment.

One of the more unique aspects of the home is that red bricks from the historic Ocala House Hotel were incorporated into the design. The first hotel was consumed in the 1883 Thanksgiving Day Fire that burned most of downtown Ocala

to the ground. It was quickly rebuilt, using the construction materials that gave Ocala its Brick City nickname. In its heyday, the hotel, as described by the late noted journalist and historian David Cook, “was Ocala’s largest and glittering asset… and the center of Ocala’s social life.” The massive three-story red brick hotel was completed in 1884 and was famed for its food and gardens. Although it was demolished in the 1960s, after falling into disrepair, parts of it (including the bricks) were repurposed. Those old bricks, no doubt, imbue the Wenzler home with a manifest sense of decorum as well as the playfulness of a life well-lived by the hotel’s patrons in its gilded days.

One of the many original art pieces in the home is a framed drawing of the Ocala House by noted local artist Margaret “Peggy” Watts.

The enormous windows in the home provide extraordinary views and the copious natural light warms the environment by day and cools the mood with stars and moonbeams by night.

“The glass gives us an everchanging view of the outside world in every room,” Chris offers. “Thunderstorms and moon rises are wonderful. By having a fixed position on the sky, you can understand how the ancient Greeks plotted the night sky throughout the year.”

He says he and Marti have always admired mid-century modern design but needed a bigger space than most homes of that era afford.

“The scale of the central areas of this home are fantastic and allow us the heightened sense of space we sought,” he explains.

“I am 6-foot-2 and Marti stands 6-feet tall, so we like tall ceilings.”

With their affinity for the arts, the Clark’s made sure the walls of the home were built to accommodate lots of works of art. As art lovers themselves, the Wenzler’s have incorporated a wide variety of artworks throughout the home, including paintings, prints, photographs and objet d’art.

The couple describe their sense of style in terms of décor as “functional, fun and a bit flamboyant.”

“We love the small spaces we have for the two

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Chris and Marti Wenzler

of us, yet can flex to entertain a large gathering,” Chris says. “We love entertaining, yet I believe it is our guests who find the home conducive to relaxation. This is a home where people can wander, mingle, or be left alone. It is probably the reason we have so many wonderful friends here in Ocala who pop by just to gather and spend time together.”


After the Wenzlers bought the home, they capitalized on a few prior renovations and made other changes to suit their tastes and lifestyle.

They were pleased, for example, that prior owners had relocated the kitchen to a space that overlooks the gorgeous backyard and incorporates such intimate touches as a retro seating area and a custom fireplace screen crafted by renowned metal craftsman Jack Klahm, with comfy swivel chairs perfectly placed in front.

“This was the living room. And where the refrigerator and pantries are, those were bookshelves. This was the entertainment area,” Chris expresses. “So, we looked at this narrow space here and we were having trouble thinking through it and David Gadlage at Koontz said,

‘Let’s get two swivels,’ and we picked out the colors and the small red love seat and it works, it works for us.”

“It really works,” Marti says emphatically, spreading her arms the length of the huge kitchen island. “This really is the best island in the world to have a party. You can spread food for days.”

“Our work is continual,” Chris adds. “We began with some fixes to the roof to stop water intrusion and patching the tile floors. We changed the garage entrance to envelop what had been an exterior bathroom. The next big project was the conversion of the original kitchen space into a bar and lounge area. We have updated the landscaping and brought in lighting accents to the backyard. We renovated the maid’s apartment over the garage as a rental.”

One element they gently restored to its original splendor

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This is a very private and wonderful space, with a nice sound of water flowing.
- Chris Wenzler

is the rock “water wall” outside the expansive master bathroom.

“We love our waterfall shower. The bromeliads bloom out there and give a beautiful red flower and you see snakes and frogs,” enthuses Marti. “And there are soft lights on it at night.”


The Wenzlers, who both are from Tennessee, she from Franklin, south of Nashville, and he from Germantown, just outside Memphis, have a blended family of five adult children. Among the many personal touches in their home are familial elements, such as the two large wood and upholstery rocking chairs that belonged to his grandparents.

“We have furnished the home with pieces we believe reflect the character and time period of the architect,” Chris shares. “We also have many heirloom family pieces we’ve modified to fit the space.”

The couple’s sense of style is easy to see in the well-appointed bar and sitting area, complete with comfy Eames lounge chairs, and which possesses both an air of whimsy and a casually elegant feel.

Just outside that space, a courtyard breakfast nook beckons a sleepy-headed early riser to sit a spell and sip coffee or tea as they listen to

birdsong and take in the fresh air.

One room is dedicated as a “refreshing space” in which to spend time with their beloved canine, Shelby.

“It’s really his house,” Marti says with a warm smile. “He just lets us live here.”

The couple’s love of art extends outside to the spacious backyard, with its sprawling decks and secreted alcoves.

“This is a very private and wonderful space, with a nice sound of water flowing,” Chris shares. “The pool is only 5 feet deep and it’s made for entertaining.”

Pointing out the mature camellia bushes and fruit trees, his gaze locks on the roofline of the home, which is quite dramatic with its sharp angles.

“This is the angle I think the architect wanted,” he says. “This is called the sun deck and looking at the back of the house from here, you really see all those great angles.”

“We love the outdoors. We love this whole house, every aspect,” Chris continues, to which Marti adds, “We really do.”

As for whether they might make other changes to their unique and historic home, Marti provides a tiny hint: “Is anybody ever completely done with their house?”

Mixing It Up

This year’s home décor trends offer a bright mix of decorated modernism, fresh takes on classical designs, achieving a quiet country vibe, mixing old with new and modern with traditional, and using cladding in creative new ways. Add in Benjamin Moore’s Raspberry Blush and exotic orchids as the color and flower of the year and you have amazing opportunities to spice up your home. We asked six local professionals to offer tips to help you get started.

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The concept of decorated modernism grants total creative liberty, allowing one to marry elements not typically seen together. In 2023, the theme is authenticity and self-expression.

I have been embracing this design style as it allows more personal freedom to express the true self, tossing the traditional design rules out the window.

Our design team traveled to High Point Market last fall, where the latest trends and furnishings were on display. What we noticed most was the effort to highlight earthy, organic materials and playfully mixing them with sharp, modern lines to create a natural balance.

Many of our clients come to us with a modern appetite, but they have heirlooms from relatives or furnishings they have invested in. Our approach is to select a couple of elements to be dominant, such as a graphic

pattern or a single, bold color as your foundation and we add in layers of additional textures (such as crushed oysters or quarter-sawn wood), mix in clean lines and basic silhouettes and finish it off with unexpected, minimal accent pieces.

Perhaps you have a colorful Persian rug?

Pair it with a sleek, leather sofa and clean-lined, wood accents and finish with live exotic orchids. This allows the cherished rug to “speak” in the room while the other items compliment and create softness. Balance, proportion and scale are key to keeping spaces from becoming messy when using this technique.

This “no rules” approach to design feels consistent with the global shift to nonconformity, saying good-bye to the classic guardrails set on self-expression. The feeling is that of freedom and playfulness—concepts not typically seen in the structured world of traditional interior design.

Select a couple of elements to be dominant, such as a graphic pattern or a single, bold color as your foundation.
Photo at right: courtesy of Full Circle Interior Design. Opposite page: courtesy of Benjamin Moore & Co.

Whether your home decorating style is modern, transitional, bohemian or farmhouse, there are many ways you can mix your favorite antiques or vintage pieces into your existing design. I think handmade pieces passed down from generation to generation, one-of-a-kind art, fabulous finds at thrift stores or family heirlooms are worthy to be displayed and enjoyed.

One of the best ways to achieve a well-designed look, regardless of the design style, is by making sure the elements look to be in harmony. Uniting styles with a limited color palette or repetition of textures creates this harmony. By choosing a simple color scheme throughout the house, it will feel unified, no matter the variation in decoration.

When it comes to furnishings, it’s always a good idea to start slow. Our design rule of thumb is 80/20: 80% your primary style and 20% your vintage pieces. This allows us to work strategically without creating a chaotic look. Start by adding one or two pieces at

a time. An easy way to do this is using the vintage piece as a focal point. Regardless your overall style, adding a vintage coffee table, a large ornate mirror or a stunning chandelier creates enough contrast and an interesting tension without losing the harmony.

If you are decorating a dining room, a vintage table with modern chairs usually works. If you are creating a foyer, adding a vintage console table or credenza with modern artwork is a designer favorite. Vintage rugs are a nice touch to almost any foyer.

Paint can be your best friend to incorporate your thrifted cool pieces into any décor. For example, painting an old chair and upholstering it with a modern fabric can help you use your beloved old chair in any room.

At the end of the day, go with what makes you happy. Decorating and design rules are never etched in stone. Feel free to bend or even break the rules when creating your own room. After all, it’s your home and it should be a reflection of you.

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Yohanna Alvarez-Giboyeaux Ballard Designs living room design

Continuing to trend in interior design for 2023 is the "quiet country" feeling, which softens the uber popular modern farmhouse vibe we've seen for the past decade or more.

While having a sense of bareness and restrained decor with minimal patterns and less structure, the incorporation of intentionally placed artisanal pieces helps to make a room feel more interesting, comforting and inviting, even without the extra stuff. By creating and curating this type of mood throughout a home, a sense of timeless nostalgia emerges, which people seem to crave these days.

For current homeowners who aren't ready to jump into a major renovation, there are some simple solutions to transition away from a farmhouse feel. We suggest a shift from stark white to more creamy, natural tones, which can easily be done by switching out accent pieces such as vases and photo frames or painting walls. Even if your kitchen is all white, the tone-on-tone walls will work wonders to create a softer blend.

I'm always amazed at how switching out light fixtures can instantly transform a space. For example, matte black metal lantern and orb styles are often used in modern farmhouse homes. Instead, try a plaster fixture as shown here. Note how the neutral creamy white finish elevates the natural wood tones on the ceiling without distracting the eye. While the individual pieces are beautiful on their own, they each allow continuity from one to another, which invokes a more joyful, nostalgic feel that seems to define the direction for which interior design continues to trend.

If building a house or undergoing a renovation, adding architectural details during the design phase will help create a quiet country feel that is often hard to accomplish in a new home. For example, in this dining room we used a lot of restraint with our furnishings and color selections so the wood ceiling, the architectural details of the columns and the natural textures take center stage. In the nearby kitchen, we let the beautiful black cypress wall planks speak for themselves by hanging only a few meaningful pieces of art (one was gifted by local wood fabricator Goodwin Company and is a print of the land on which the wood was found) and adding a small-scaled stool in the same tones. It's an understated style that absolutely makes a statement.

February ‘23 43

Kay Rains

Koontz Design Studio

What a splash and blast from the past! If you look around, you will notice a subtle yet fast growing resurgence of the days of old. In fashion, these are the vintage mom jeans that have come back with a vengeance, along with shoulder pads and oversized plaid jackets. These are all valid updates and can be highly fashionable—if you take the dare. Many have embraced this fresh preservation of classic style in the interior design world. In the studio, I have observed the old become new in exciting ways. I mentioned plaid, which originated from the Scottish term tartan. It has been the latest trend I have seen burst onto the scene. Tartan has stayed true to itself; however, if you are thinking about your grandfather’s study, think again. Imagine beautiful feather greys, powdery pinks and grass greens presented in perpendicular perfection.

If tartans aren’t for you, explore a fresh chintz in a sun or dining room as a great way to pull the outside in. Overstuffed sofas and chairs are here and lush in fabrics that embrace, like boucles and velvets. If you don’t like the overstuffed look or style, try it for comfort. It performs well in a theater, family or hearth room.

Dust off or reimagine your blue and whites. They are popping up in sundry design styles. Imagine blue and white ceramic plates hung on a Raspberry Blush wall—which is Benjamin Moore’s 2023 Color of the Year—the infusion would be a visual delight.

Take what you love and fearlessly run with it. Whether its caning, grasscloth wallpaper or one of the elements mentioned above—make it uniquely you. Plus, it’s fun to incorporate a vintage “wink” in a room.

Exterior cladding to achieve energy efficiency and sound diminishing does take on many faces. As a designer, my goal is to consider appropriate finishes for efficiency, balanced with aesthetics for the building and its orientation to the sun.

In the commercial field, there are lots of opportunities to mix the finishes to create dramatic effects. With the trend to more contemporary facades, the use of aluminum composite materials (ACM) panels can do a wonderful job since there are insulated panels, wood-looking panels, large and small formats and overlay moldings and trims. There are plenty of design options to be very creative with the materials.

Although we use ACM quite often on commercial buildings, I can’t say it has gained enough popularity in the residential field here in Ocala, given the attributes and uses available. I expect to see more and more use of it in 2023. The patterns of aluminum composite panel (ACP) are considered a perfect alternative to natural wood in humid areas like Ocala.

Interior claddings for soundproofing have a new and valuable use now that home offices seem here to

stay. I would suggest materials with lots of texture and/or undulations. There needs to be absorption on the inner office walls and deflection on the outer office walls. That way, the family can be active in the home and the office can be productive.

There are panels made of plastic, concrete, cork, wood and textiles—even live walls of moss are all great. If you are considering panels, I suggest cork dimensional panels over plastic or vinyl since it will breathe and not trap moisture in the wall. Buzzer panels are made from 100% reclaimed cork, have low volatile organic compounds, wonderful thermal and acoustic insulation, and come in a multitude of colors. If the panels are used to create a design, leave some open areas; that will help prevent moisture being trapped if you like wood or other closed cell materials.

Of all the new products coming available in 2023, I love that macrame is coming back in a new dimension. For a personal and unique piece for the office, I love artist Vanessa Barragao. Her textile art is great for sound diminishing and fabulous visual stimulation for the mind and soul.

WoodPlank exterior wood cladding Panbeton interior cladding by Concrete LCDA Opposite page: photo by Bruce Ackerman, shot at KOONTZ Furniture Company


The Color of the Year is consistent with 2023 design trends: bold, playful and memorable. If you’d like to adopt this tone into a modern space, pair it with neutral tones (charcoal, oatmeal and ivory) to keep this jaw-dropping color as the focus. It can be tempting to give this color a compliment, but in modern design you’ll want to keep her center-stage.

Raspberry Blush is a fun tone that will catch your eye and is certain to make a design statement. The use of darker tones like deep browns and grays on larger pieces such as furniture will help ease the eye while allowing Raspberry Blush to stand out. Pastel tones will do the same. If you prefer a softer approach, this color blends well with neutral tones and natural textures that continue to have a strong presence in interior design styles. If painting walls or upholstering a sofa in Raspberry Blush seems too risky, test the waters with patterns on pillows, colorful wall art and decorative accents, or make a focal point with wallpaper. These can easily be switched out when you're ready to move on to next year's color! If you're ready to fully commit, go with

the more-is-more philosophy—paint the walls, trim and ceiling, and do it with a high gloss finish for the ultimate style statement.

Raspberry Blush, in one word, is JOYFUL! As a designer, I am bold. I like color and creativity beyond the traditional standards. Raspberry Blush is a fun way to be inspired and energized. I would use it as an accent color in a dining room, office or music room.

Raspberry Blush is very close to the wall color I used in my sitting room at my previous home. It worked well with off white furniture and a stained pine floor. When my painter finished one wall, she said, “I’ll pay you if we can pick another color.” But, over the years, that room was always a draw for guests. My theory is that home décor follows European fashion colors from the year before. If I was the one asked for a 2023 color, my pick would be Benjamin Moore Galapagos Turquoise 2057-20. But who’s asking?

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Living in central Florida offers us so many benefits when it comes to plants. Even in the cooler months, for example, we can still enjoy orchids in planters, hanging in a beautiful tree with string lights. As they grow and bloom, we can enjoy them outdoors while trimming blooming stems and designing with them indoors.

Orchids are some of the most luxurious flowers. They add touches of color and style, but with many of the unique shapes they become a work of art.

Sometimes I cut blooming stems from a plant and add them to other flowers for an elegant centerpiece; other times, I will lay them down the center of a table with touches of greenery and candles to create an organic design. With proper hydration, they can last for weeks. My favorite way to style a stem of orchids is to use a small glass vase with water, allowing this natural beauty to take the spotlight of an entryway table or buffet.

Designing with orchid plants inside the home can fit almost any style. Try a blue and white toile planter for French country style or, if you love mid-century modern design, as I do, then maybe an avocado green planter is the way to go.

No matter where you choose to decorate with orchids, you really can’t go wrong.

They add touches of color and style, but with many of the unique shapes they become a work of art.
top left :
of 1-800-Flowers. Opposite page:
& Co.
Floral Architecture'S Mary Weaver ON 1-800-FLOWERS.com FLOWER OF THE YEAR Photo
Benjamin Moore
352-354-3454 www.FullCircleInteriorDesign.com Crystal River, FL INTERIOR DESIGN Elevate Your Style Elevate Your Life

Capturing TheThoroughbred Spirit Thoroughbred Spirit

So vibrant and realistic, Ocala equine artist Sharon Crute’s thoroughbred racing oil paintings may have you taking a step back for fear of being trampled. Her steeds, wide-eyed creatures of incomparable beauty and stunning

power, deliver an exhilarating rush as they appear to race off the canvas toward the finish line.

While Crute’s racing scenes are all brazen color and power in motion, her racetrack backside portraits are more intimate, with a Painting: On

Artist Sharon Crute’s paintings are an all-access pass to the exciting and elusive world of thoroughbred racing.
the Muscle, oil on panel, 20”x24”

still-life quality to them. Grooms quietly tend to their charges, brushing and saddling them in the muted light of dawn for their morning gallops. Exercise riders guide their mounts to and from the racetrack on shaded paths, almost as though on a trail ride. Once the horses are back from their exercise, the grooms again take over. They give the equine athletes warm soapy baths, hose rinses and then walks to cool them down. As a treat, the horses are grazed on the end of a lead rope, in between barns in the afternoon. Here on the backside, it’s all about a one-to-one connection between man and beast.

“There is a duality to thoroughbreds. They can calm people down by their mere presence and yet are explosive when racing,” says Crute. “They are a subject of endless fascination for me and continue to inspire my art.”

The passionate authenticity in Crute’s art is born of five decades and counting of working with thoroughbreds on racetrack backsides.

“I paint the life that I have lived and continue to live,” offers Crute, a horse-crazy kid who began working on a racetrack backside at 15 and later married a thoroughbred trainer. “My life and my art have always complemented each other. I consider myself to be very fortunate.”

Art And Racehorses

While she doesn’t remember a time she wasn’t drawing and painting, Crute does recall with clarity her early introductions to thoroughbred racing.

“I grew up in rural Rhode Island, where the biggest thing to happen every year was the

state fair. And there would be horse races there in a more casual setting than a racetrack,” she shares. “I was 4 years old when my father put me up on his shoulders so I could see the races. That was the first time I saw horses racing.”

Crute’s father and older brother were avid horse racing fans, going to the races at Narragansett Park in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, almost every Saturday during the meet.

“I’d always plead with my father to take me to the races and one Saturday he actually said yes,” recalls Crute. “But the problem was that I was only 12 and you had to be 16 to get into the grandstand. My father told me to just tell the guy at the admission booth that I was 16. Don’t think that man believed me, but he let me in and that was all that mattered to me.”

In a life-changing moment that day, Crute’s father later took her down from the grandstand to stand close to the starting gates for a race.

“It was so exciting to see those racehorses so close. And when the gates opened, I was overwhelmed by the sounds and flashing colors as the horses raced past us,” she recounts. “It was in that moment that I became hooked on racehorses. And not long after that, I started painting them.”

Intent on being a racehorse trainer, Crute once again lied about her age and at 15 got a summer job at the racetrack.

“My first job was as a hot walker,” she says. “On the racetrack, hot walkers walk horses after their morning gallops or races around the barn shed-row to cool them down. I thought it was the best job in the world.”

After graduating high school, Crute attended the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She graduated in 1978 with a bachelor of fine arts degree, majoring in painting.

“In the summers, I would still work on the racetrack backside and had moved up to becoming a groom,” she notes. “Once I graduated, I continued to work on the racetrack while also pursuing my art career.”

And, as fate would have it, a racetrack connection led Crute to her future husband, Michael Bray, who was the son of a perennial leading trainer on the Northeast racing circuit.

“A longtime friend of mine had previously worked for Michael’s father. I was visiting her in Miramar, Florida, at the same time Michael and his parents were renting a house in nearby Lakeland,” she shares. “My friend invited me along to visit them and Michael was there. We hit it off immediately.”

Fittingly enough, the two were

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Painting: Solace, oil on panel,

married by a racetrack chaplain in his office between races at Miramar-based Calder Race Course in 1980.

“Michael had been asking me to marry him,” offers Crute, chuckling. “When I finally said yes, we hurried to get blood tests and the marriage license. Then, on Halloween, Michael had horses running at Calder so that seemed to be the best place to get married. And, as a bonus, I became the all-around assistant of his racing stable.”

On The Move

The couple moved to California in the mid-1980s, being active on both the Northern and Southern racing circuits of that state. When not on the backside, Crute continued with her artwork and had other jobs.

“While we were in California, I was a contract mural artist for SeaWorld,” she says. “I had a stint as a racing official and was in charge of program production for the California Authority of Racing Fairs.”

In 1989, the couple relocated to Ocala, Michael’s hometown.

“I loved Ocala right away. If you’re a horse person, how can you not love Ocala?” questions Crute. “My first job in Ocala was as a production manager with The Florida Horse magazine. Of course, I continued with my artwork.”

Crute began to make a name for herself with her signature large, 48-inch by 60-inch, racing-scenes paintings. She was then selected to design the prototype life-size fiberglass horse for the initial Horse Fever Community Art Project in 2001. Crute also designed and painted Cultural Champ, a foal-sized fiberglass horse, which was the project’s ambassador to spread awareness and support. She painted Champ, which is adorned with the brightly painted silks of Ocala’s prominent thoroughbred breeders and owners. Champ still stands today at the front of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association headquarters in Ocala. Crute’s World Champ, part of the 10th anniversary Horse Fever project, stands in Ocala’s downtown square.

long been known as “The Summer Place To Be” and a very good place for an artist.

“Only six artists are allowed in the vendorship program at a time. So, I was very pleased and honored to be one of them,” Crute shares. “During this time, I really built up a great client and collectors base that remains today. Commissions are the majority of my work.”

Crute and Bray, who took a break from training, even bought a giclee printer to reproduce her artwork.

“We did very well. And living in the beautiful Saratoga area was wonderful,” shares Crute. “In 2019, Michael decided to go back to training. Then COVID hit. I stayed in New York for a little longer before joining Michael in Ocala in 2020. We have a small string of racehorses and race primarily at Tampa Bay Downs.”

“It was truly an honor for me to be involved with the Horse Fever projects,” she offers. “It’s nice to see the horses still all around Ocala.”

The Su er Place To Be

For the first time in decades, Crute isn’t spending as much time on the racetrack backside. Now she is devoting more time to her art, joining her husband when one of their horses is racing. Painting: Respite, oil on panel, 14”x11”

After applying for and being awarded an artist vendorship at the historic Saratoga Race Course in 2010, Crute and Bray were once again on the move. The boutique Saratoga summer meet has

February ‘23 51

“I have a great studio in a backyard storage unit,” notes Crute, who continues to have gallery representation in Saratoga. “It has a garage door that goes up and lets in great light. I spend most days in there, painting away.”

On this particular day, Crute, who has always worked in oil and from racetrack photos she has taken over the years, is bringing to life a 16-inch by 20-inch Delaware Park saddling paddock scene.

“Oils have always been my medium because I love the richness of the colors and the long drying time. I like to work wet-to-wet and will even mix colors right on the canvas,” she explains, picking up a paintbrush to demonstrate on the color of the horse being walked around the paddock.

Then she uses a Q-tip to blur the colors of the stone grandstand building, explaining, “I like my backgrounds to have soft edges like the stone grandstand buildings at the back of the paddock. The softness of the background makes the focal point, a groom leading a horse around the paddock, pop out.”

For Crute, painting is all about energy.

“I can connect with the energy of whatever I’m painting because I’ve been there and experienced it,” expresses Crute, who always paints standing up. “Taking my own pictures also helps preserve that energy for me; some of my paintings are compilations of several pictures. By the time I finish a painting, I usually have a name for it.”

Crute has no shortage of work to keep her in the backyard studio most days, beginning in the morning until afternoon. Her portfolio also includes thoroughbred farm scenes, mares and

foals under grand oaks or horses galloping on farm training tracks. She has a growing interest in plein air and would like to expand on that going forward.

“I still truly love racehorses,” assures Crute, smiling. “There is something so special, so magical about them. Their spirit continues to infuse my art and always will.”

To learn more, go to sharoncrute.com

Paintings: Far left , Hosing Off Poultice, oil on panel, 14”x11”; bottom right, Alter Ego, oil on panel, 20”x16”; top ritht, photo of Sharon Crute with PJ

Tasha and Michael Osbourne and the co-founders and leaders of Ocala’s Premier Sotheby’s International Realty—the Powerhouse Couple who sold $42 million in 2022.

“What makes the Ocala team of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty extraordinary is our ability to deliver a luxury experience at every price point,” says Tasha. “We take great pride in using our expertise, resources and international global connections to perfectly unite extraordinary places with the discerning buyers who will cherish them as we do.”

She says their success comes from integrity, energy and experience.

“We have 17 years in the industry, from mortgage- nance to real estate sales of a one-bedroom condo to a $12 million 922-acre equestrian training facility,” she shares.

“All my customers get the same quality of service and I tailor each experience to match their nancial needs,” she continues. “We are Ocala’s very own internationally and globally known brand located right here—but with relationship-built partners all around the world. We take pride in bringing a uent buyers to you and having a global reach for sellers.”

Tasha also says, “We are a local company with deep roots in the community.”

e team at Ocala’s Premier Sotheby’s International Realty also includes Olivia Desguin, Maddy Franco-

So eld and Alexis So eld.

“Olivia has deep roots in the Ocala community and can’t imagine calling any other place home. She is diligent, dedicated and determined to give her customers exceptional service by always putting herself in their shoes and keeping the lines of communication open,” Tasha states. “Olivia started her journey in real estate working with a local luxury builder and developer, securing more than $3 million in business during her rst year. No matter the price point, Olivia’s customers will always have a luxury experience whether buying or selling a property.”

e So elds have called Ocala home for 20 years.

“ ey are the dynamic duo that complement their backgrounds to enhance their clients’ experience,” Tasha notes. “Maddy’s expertise is in senior living communities, new construction, 1031 exchanges, pre-owned neighborhoods and high-end properties. Alexis’ background is in mortgage origination, property management and understanding the nuances of vacation rentals through personal investments.”

No matter which team member assists a client with their speci c needs, Tasha assures each and every one that, “We have extensive area knowledge and market-speci c experience.”

And, she adds, “Our ideal clients are those who expect exceptional results, whether buying or selling a home.”

Meet your Ocala Luxury and Equestrian Group with Global Reach and The Power of Connection; selling nearly $60 Million in 2022 and featured within the Top Agents in the Ocala Metro Area. Selling Real Estate With Super Powers Exclusive by Tasha Osbourne 3148 SE 17 Terr, Ocala, FL Exclusive by Tasha Osbourne 10805 SW 121 Ave Rd, Dunnellon, FL Exclusive by Tasha Osbourne 1647 NW 114 Loop, Ocala, FL Premier Sotheby’s International Realty • Tasha Osbourne, Broker Associate Tasha.Osbourne@Premiersir.com • 603 E Fort King Street, Ocala FL (352) 613-6613 • www.housesforsaleincentral orida.com


Southern Comfort

The salty and sweet flavors of this go-to family favorite meal will warm your soul.

If you are looking for some delicious comfort food to warm you on a cool February evening, then I have the perfect meal. To me, nothing says Southern comfort more than Shrimp and Grits, Collard Greens and Honey Cornbread Muffins.

I was introduced to Shrimp and Grits when my son was a placekicker at Charleston Southern University. The coastal region of Georgia and South Carolina is known as the Lowcountry and is famed for its cuisine, which uses a lot of seafood, such as shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, lobster and fish. And since grits are definitely a Southern favorite, it’s a natural to pair the ground corn dish with succulent shrimp for a simple entree that can easily become divine. Especially if you love cheese, because you can make those grits as cheesy as your heart desires!

Over the years, this delicious comfort food dish has become a favorite for my entire family, and the perfect partners are healthy greens and these yummy muffins.

Collard greens are loaded with vitamins and have no cholesterol. The flavor is earthy and lots of people like to spice them up with apple cider vinegar and hot sauce. Adding bacon gives another interesting layer of flavor.

By adding whole kernel corn morsels to the muffins, you create another level of richness that enhances the chiles and cheese. We like to top these, fresh out of the oven, with blackberry jam.

All of the pairings in these dishes combine sensations of salty and sweet, which can be very pleasing to the palate and are hallmarks of Southern cuisine.

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Shrimp and Grits

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, use whole or chopped

4 cups of water

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 1 cup stone ground grits (It’s key to use stone ground.)

1 cup scallions, thinly sliced 3 tablespoons butter

4 teaspoon lemon juice 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced

8 slices Applewood bacon, chopped Himalayan salt, to taste Black pepper, to taste

Bring the water to a boil and season it with salt and pepper. › Add the grits and cook until the water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes.

› Remove the pan from heat and stir in butter and cheese and let rest. › Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisped. › Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. › Add the shrimp to the bacon grease and cook until they turn pink. › Add the lemon juice, parsley, green onions and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. › Spoon the grits into a serving bowl, top with shrimp, sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.

Southern Collard Greens

1 32-ounce container chicken broth

1 pound package fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed 1/4 pound smoked ham, chopped

6 hickory-smoked bacon slices, finely chopped

1 medium-size sweet onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook the bacon in a 10-quart stockpot over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until almost crisp. › Add the onion and sauté 8 minutes. › Add the ham and garlic and sauté 1 minute. › Stir in the broth and remaining ingredients. › Cook for 2 hours or to desired degree of tenderness.

› Adjust the tanginess by adding more cider vinegar. › Serve with hot sauce on the side.

Honey Cornbread Mu ns

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup green chilis

1/2 cup whole kernel corn

1/3 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 stick butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. › In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. › In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter and honey (have these at room temperature for a fluffier muffin). › Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed, then add chilis, corn and cheese. › Spray a 12-muffin tin with Pam and evenly divide the batter. › Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

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The Book of Janet

Janet the postal worker is my hero.

There was no cape on that December day in downtown Ocala. No chivalrous rescue or lead-the-revolution battle charge. Just patience. Remarkable, nearly artful patience.

It was 8:45am-ish at the downtown post office when I found myself in a very long line. It was two weeks before Christmas, which–duh!--is prime time for long lines at a post office. To get to this line, you had to walk under a banner over the front door proclaiming the U.S. Postal Service is hiring.

In short: It was Christmastime at a post office that is short-handed.

There was one postal employee behind the counter, helping customers politely and efficiently, one by one by one.

“There’s only one person working?” bellowed the newest member of our sad conga line. “That’s disgusting.”


“Excuse me,” the woman said to the sole worker, “when will the others get here? Nine? This is ridiculous.”

She was theatrical, bolstered by a growing audience she assumed was in her court. “Disgusting.”

Meanwhile, Janet the postal worker carried on professionally, paying special attention to an agitated elderly gentleman.

None of us were particularly merry about the situation. We checked our watches and poked at our phones. Every few minutes, a customer would surrender and leave.

“You’re disgusted, too, huh? UNBELIEV-

ABLE!” Betty McGripe-Gripe told the defeated, exiting customers. After 20 minutes, I gave up as well. But I left inconvenienced, not angry. This is just how things go sometimes.

“Ridiculous,” the crank groaned as I exited. “Wouldn’t you think the post office would have more people here during the holidays?” She spoke loud enough for Janet to hear, and to be sure, Janet could hear her. People in Reddick could hear her.

My guess is that Janet also wished there were more people behind that counter. She likely did not wake up that morning and say, “You know what? I am telling my colleagues to take the day off. I’ll run the show today and I hope it enrages everybody and ruins lots of holidays.”

Later in the day, I returned to the post office to try to mail my packages. There were more workers behind the counter and I was fortunate to get Janet’s window. As she handed me my receipts, I said, “I just want to thank you for your patience. I sincerely appreciate what you do.”

It was if I had handed her candy wrapped in cash. She paused, smiled a little and thanked me.

This is a long story with a short conclusion: Just be nice.

I witnessed a mere 20 minutes in the life of an overworked postal worker in a holiday morning rush. Chances are, there were many Betty McGripeGripes who gave my beloved Janet a hard time between my morning visit and my lunchtime visit.

Thus, I am setting my 2023 standards based on the Book of Janet . Be patient. Be professional. Be positive. Be nice.

February ‘23 59 LIVING

Comfy Cabins

Silver Springs State Park offers home-away-from-home accommodations that bring guests close to nature.

Many of us tend to venture off to new places for getaways and vacations and it is understandable that when we have time off, we want to see new places. In doing so, however, we sometimes miss great destinations in our own backyard.

The rustic but comfortable rental cabins at the Silver Springs State Park are a great example. A quick internet search reveals rave reviews from visitors and travel writers alike. It is no wonder as, for example, the cost is enticing. The cabins are inviting and affordable at $110 per night, which I find is less expensive than many hotel rooms nowadays.

These sought-after hideaways may be overlooked by locals but are considered highly desirable destinations by folks from near and far. Having worked at the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center, whose

campus is located inside the park, since 2004, I’ve met tourists from all over the world as they are visiting our beautiful part of the Sunshine State. Step inside one of the park’s 10 cabins and you’ll see why visitors often want to spend a night, or a week. The cabins are cozy, nicely outfitted and situated amongst stately old grandaddy oaks dripping with Spanish moss and tucked well away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Each cabin has two bedrooms with a queen bed in one and twin beds in the other. Each offers a full kitchen equipped with essentials such as utensils, pots and pans. Air conditioning and electric fireplaces ensure a comfortable stay in warmer or cooler months.

Large, screened porches with rocking chairs beckon guests to linger and enjoy the abundant natural beauty all around. Picnic tables, outdoor campfire rings and barbecue grills are ready and

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waiting for those who enjoy cooking and dining under the sun or stars.

Pets are not allowed, which will deter some guests but is welcome relief for anyone with allergies.

There are accommodations for visitors who use wheelchairs or have mobility issues.

There are no phones, televisions or wireless networks in the cabins (wireless access is provided at the park entrance station, however). This may seem off-putting to some, but it is by design. The cabins are intended to encourage guests to relax, reconnect with family and nature, and take a break from our hyperconnected

world. If you must have high-speed internet, room service and an air-conditioned workout room, these accommodations won’t be the best choice for you. If, however, you crave peace and quiet, owls hooting in the trees above and an evening campfire, this is your place.

The Florida Park Service manages and protects 175 state parks, trails and historic sites that span nearly 800,000 acres. The goal is to “help create a sense of place by showing park visitors the best of Florida’s diverse natural and cultural sites.”

Silver Springs State Park is one of the gems of Marion County and indeed the park service at large. The park’s rental cabins allow visitors to “camp” in comfort in a safe, well-managed natural setting. Step outside during your stay and great hiking trails, wildlife viewing, kayaking, glassbottom boat rides and the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center all await.

Scott Mitchell is a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator and director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center, inside Silver River State Park. To learn more about the park’s cabins, go to floridastateparks.org/silversprings or call (352) 236-5401.

February ‘23 61

1Callaway Golf Clubs

I have played golf since I was 13 and played at Youngstown State University on a golf scholarship. My favorite local golf courses are Stone Creek Golf Club and the Country Club of Ocala.

Sara Russell


Sara is the director of marketing for AdventHealth Ocala. Among the things most dear to her are her husband, Marc, and their daughters Landree and Palmer. “They give me true purpose in life,” she says, “and certainly make it more exciting.”

3The Sun

I love being outside in the sun and having a tan. Spending time around the pool or on the beach allows me to reset from my hectic life.

2Mexican Food

I LOVE Mexican food and could eat it every day! I was born in Texas, so Tex-Mex is something that runs in my veins. I never turn down the opportunity to eat out at Las Margaritas, Cantina Tex Mex or Sayulita

Ohio State Football

We are a huge Ohio State family and OSU football means everything to us. If they are playing, you will find us out on the lanai cheering on our Buckeyes. Go Bucks!

High Heels

5I always have on high heels (Jessica Simpson heels are my fave!) at work. They make me feel confident and prepared to take on the day. My red heels are my favorite pair!


I love to burn candles! They provide me a sense of calmness. I especially love my Ruthless Wax candles, which I purchase at the Ocala Downtown Market. They are amazing and so beautiful.


Now Is The Time To RUP

tempting as it might be to get out in your yard and start chopping, please resist the urge to prune (RUP) for now.

The several days of hard freezes in December, and winter weather in general, had an impact on yards and gardens throughout Marion County. Shrubs are shriveled and brown, leaves have fallen, bare branches are everywhere, all making gardeners so, so sad! I know you really, really want to get outside and start cleaning up, pruners and loppers in hand, but let me tell you— please don’t.

Instead—RUP. Resist the Urge to Prune. Please wait, because this time of year we can have more frosts and possibly more hard freezes. Typically, we have a last frost in mid to late March so there’s real danger in pruning anything now. Pruning prompts new growth and if you prune now, you’ll likely be watching those sweet, little new leaves get fried in the next cold snap. I confess I’ve killed poor, innocent tender, new growth by pruning too soon, and I regret it.

The UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Service suggests, “…

freeze damage should not be pruned back until you see new growth emerging later in the spring. If it is possible to postpone clipping the plant back, try to hold off until at least March.”

Instead, use this time to replenish your soil. Feed the soil, not the plant, is a wellknown adage in gardening, and it’s a valuable tip. You can rake up dead leaves and add them to your beds. You can do “trench composting” by working in vegetable cuttings, coffee grounds, eggshells and other compostables to help your garden next season. (I just dig a hole where I want to enhance the soil, dump in my coffee can of “goodies” and cover it up. I suspect my neighbors think I’m a little odd.)

Also, unlike up north, springtime often brings lots of leaf drop around here and your neighbors may even helpfully(!) put those wonderful leaves into convenient bags and leave them at the end of the driveway. One of my neighbors is kind enough to roll three to four of those big garbage cans of his leaves over to my yard every year. He doesn’t want them, I do, and it’s a good deal for

February ‘23 63 LIVING
Typically, we have a last frost in mid to late March so there’s real danger in pruning anything now.

both of us.

In addition to leaves and dead vegetation, coffee grounds are a great way to add moisture, nutrients and acid to your soil. Many area coffee shops will give you coffee grounds if you ask and I’ve gotten 20 to 30 pounds of grounds from several in town. Bonus: it makes your car smell great for a couple days afterward!

Another way to benefit your garden this time of year is to plan what you want to move, change or add in your garden beds. If you’re doing vegetables, you might even be ambitious enough to start seedlings inside. You can work out which plants or seeds will go where and review how the varieties did for you last year. I remember eagerly planting Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes one year. But, after only harvesting six tomatoes, I decided they weren’t worth the effort. Knowing what works in this area is key to success, so don’t let those sexy seed catalogs entice you into making bad gardening decisions.

For transplanting, late February and March is often a good time to move plants as they’re mostly dormant. It’s not as much stress on them because they won’t be actively growing or putting out energy for new leaves and flowers at this time.

First, prep the new place. Dig down and out about twice as large as the root ball. I always water the surrounding soil thoroughly so when it’s time to water in the shrub, the water will stay near the roots instead of moving out into the surrounding soil. Add a light amount of organic fertilizer and compost, maybe some fresh garden soil, too. Then place the new bush, water in, tamp

down lightly to get out any air bubbles and add more soil as needed.

For large shrubs, do a root prune about two weeks before the big move. This means digging down around the roots at the drip line and cutting off the tips to prep for moving day. Get your sheet or burlap ready to carry/drag the bush or, if it’s small enough, you can put it in a wheelbarrow.

So, put down those pruners or loppers for now. Take this time instead to enjoy the stark beauty of our North Florida winter landscapes as you make plans for the spring.

A native Floridian and lifelong gardener, Belea spends her time off fostering cats and collecting caladiums. You can send gardening questions or column suggestions to her at belea@magnoliamediaco.com

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