Friday, August 12, 2011


I am now affiliated with Sand Castle Realty Group, Inc., Naples, FL and have started two new blogs and websites. You can find me there . Also: . My official company website with all of the property search information is:

While Iam a REALTOR, I am trying to incorporate some of the same information that I've had on this blogspot, into my new sites. And I continue to have my interests such as Home Decor and Design, Found Object Art, and also working with a Non-Profit.

People don't just move , they need (I think!) to know, the entire atmosphere of an area, the lifestyle, I will continue to write about Places To Visit, Where to Eat, What To Do, and Local Items of Interest in the SW Florida area, from Sanibel Island to Naples, including Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs and place my articles on the new sites.

Certain past blogs may disappear from this site, as I move them to the new sites, so what remains on this blogspot site and any content that I add here in the future, will be related to travel and places outside of SW Florida, and my artsy leanings.

2220-2 Venetian Ct., Naples, FL 34109

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Great Restaurants of Fort Myers, Florida

Ft. Myers does have it's share of great places to eat; I have discovered a few more interesting places. OPA!, Mediterranean Gourmet, specializing in Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine. On the corner of Winkler and Metro Parkway in a small shopping center. The GYROS are out of this world and they also have other homemade specialties, many delicious vegetarian dishes. This is a MUST STOP if you are anywhere in this area. I discovered OPA! because it is right down the road from the Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach REALTOR Association building, of which I am a member. I'm not finding a website for Opa! OPA! 2950 Winkler Ave. #201 Fort Myers, FL 33916 239-936-2901 AUSTRIAN-GERMAN PAVILION RESTAURANT I discovered this restaurant secreted in the middle of the courtyard of the Royal Palm Square, while attending additional real estate classes at a real estate school there. As they say: "Helmut and Helga welcome you to a pleasurable dining experience." Eat indoors or out, under the umbrellas, in the European style. Hungarian goulash or schnitzel anyone? You must park and walk inside the inner courtyard where there are flowing fountains and streams; you cannot see the restaurant from Colonial Blvd. Austrian-German 1400 Colonial Blvd. #33 Fort Myers, FL 33907 239-936-8118

While I'm in the neighborhood, wandering around the Royal Palm Square shopping center courtyard, I run across this charming little shop, A Swedish Affair, the finest in Scandinavian handicraft. Lots of handmade goods, signs, cards, Norway goods, aprons, blown glass, wood, etc...Found an adorable little scottie dog crafted from "brushes". Anyway. Worth a look if you love Scandanavian goods or just simply a charming shop. You cannot see the shop from Colonial Blvd. You must park and walk inside the courtyard. But, that's okay as there are little waterfalls and of course the cafe described above.

A Swedish Affair

Royal Palm Square

1400 Colonial Blvd.

Fort Myers, FL 33907


SALSA I have often had a quick peek at this building and sign as I was flying down 41 from Fort Myers to Bonita. But, one day, I happened to be hungry for what I thought would be Mexican food, so I took a quick right into the parking lot. (Actual entrance is off of Boy Scout Rd.). What a nice surprise. Don't let the not exciting exterior fool you, or the not exciting interior deter you, once you walk in the doors. This is great food! And, it's a mix of Cuban, Mexican and Puerto Rican dishes, all seemingly freshly prepared from scratch. We sampled the whole fried fish (excellent), the garlic roasted chicken with rice and black beans and plantains, also delicious. Next time, I'm going for their $5.00 Cuban sandwich. They also light up at night with live music and dancing and even one night with Salsa lessons, thus the name. SALSA 1920 Boy Scout Dr. Fort Myers, FL 33907 239 277-0166

Mimi's Cafe I am not a chain restaurant sort of person, however, Mimi's is not your typical chain. 1) It's French Countryside style 2) It's a very small chain and 3) it retains it's charming decor and delicious food and baked goods. Was treated to a wonderful breakfast of Crab Cake Florentine and Benedict. Loved to look at all of their memoribilia on the walls including old photographs from France. If you only drive down 41 from Naples to Fort Myers you will not see Mimi's Cafe. You must turn into the Bell Towers Shopping Center at the corner of Daniel's Parkway and 41. Go to the Daniels side of the Bell Towers shops. Mimi's Cafe 5070 Bell Towers Shops Ave. Fort Myers, FL 33907 239 561-0073 Remember, if you are out and about in SW Florida and decide that you need to buy (or sell) a home here, I'm Dana Carrera, I know the area well and am a licensed REALTOR. See contact information to have me assist with your next property.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Staging a House For Sale BEFORE and AFTER photos

Staging a house for sale, on a budget, can be challenging. Whether you are a homeowner or a realtor, the most important thing to first do is declutter by removing anything that is not decorative or functional. Then, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN.
Use the best of what you have on hand. In the photos above, the homeowner already had the beds. As the stager I added fresh and new bedding and some inexpensive mirrors as wall decor.
In the living room, I pulled a switcheroo. The outdated living room furniture got moved to the den and garage and the more contemporary white leather furniture was moved from the den into the living room. As the stager I supplied the lamps and the artwork adding touches of fresh Florida colors. Just from looking at the photos, which house would you be more interested in? The BEFORE or AFTER?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Day in the Bay

Revisited a favorite place today by kayak; a tiny sand island in the bay (Estero Bay)that appears and disappears with the changing tides. In the sand I found flamingo pink color shells; an unusual find. There is a resort on Fort Myers Beach called Pink Shell Resort; I wonder if this is how they got their name. Perhaps many years ago there used to be an abundance of pink shells.

While stretched out on the sands of my miniature empire, a jet flies overhead, taking off from the Fort Myers airport heading West to loop North. I thought how strangely interesting I must appear to someone looking out their windows, me and my kayak on a few yards of sand surrounded by tons of water.

When totally submerged in nature and without distractions I am fortunate to be able to revert back to childhood play and creativity. A mangrove pod floating by, rescued and examined becomes a quill pen with which to write letters with oceans of clear ink on perhaps parchment in the form of a giant seagrape leaf, which must now be found. A corkscrew shell becomes the perfect earring so one must search for the other missing one. Translucent white shells make perfectly glamorous fingernails. I make a great ten year old.

When my kingdom is being reclaimed by the bay waters and it is time to go, if all is well and the timing is just right, I can simply drift and float back to the exact piece of shoreline where I started out. I am my own sail. It has been a good day in Florida.

Monday, June 14, 2010


So, I took a day trip to Tampa, AGAIN, to go to my closest Ikea. It's about a three hour drive from my home in SW Florida. After Ikea I decided to wend my way to Clearwater Beach. Why? Nostalgic purposes, as I lived in the Tampa area from the ages of four to fourteen and with Grandparents in Clearwater, there was a well worn path between East of Tampa and Clearwater.
This was a spur of the moment sort of thing, so I had no map and no GPS, just my own pigeon- like homing instincts. And sure enough, I left the Ikea parking lot, on Adamo Ave. (Hwy. 60), past Ybor City, followed it thru downtown Tampa (Kennedy Blvd.) and past the airport and onto the Courtney Campbell Causeway right thru downtown Clearwater and onto Clearwater Beach, with nary a waiver or wrong turn. In fact, this is the amazing thing to me, as I passed streets and sights going thru Tampa they were all so FAMILIAR, and I had not been on this path for dare I say 30 or 40 years??? The Tampa docks, where the banana boats used to (still do?) dock, the angular "modern" 1960's buildings, past Dale Mabry, Florida Ave. and Henderson Ave. where I actually recognized the turnoff to get to my father's old office. It didn't hurt that there was a Krispie Kreme located on the corner which looked more than vaguely familiar. Now, past Lois Ave, also an old and familiar street, and West Shore Blvd.
Upon arrival in Clearwater beach, I found a familiar Greek motel had been torn down to "put up a parking lot" as the song goes. Also found some exceedingly tall condominiums that blocked out the setting sun for the older, established places.
But, I saw that Frenchy's cafe (now at least three on the beach) were still in full swing and people clamoring to get in no doubt to order the Grouper Reubens. The Gulf water was exceedingly clear and lovely; "Clearwater" still living up to it's name. The beaches were packed with people and their colorful umbrellas and flotation devices. Lots of happy people enjoying their Sunday afternoon at the beach. Then, it was on to Indian Rocks, Redington Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete beach and back onto I-275, across that giant yellow bridge and back to I-75 South.
It was a great trip down memory lane and rather reassuring to know that one can find one's way when one must.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life's a Changin'

I took a bold step this afternoon. I deleted my website:
I took my own advice and simplified to the point of complete deletion. When I started the site in 2005, I was more focused on design and recycling things.
Now, I am focused on applying those aspects to the real estate market in SW Florida; working with sellers in preparing a home for sale with tips on de-cluttering and staging and curb appeal. And assisting buyers in finding a "diamond in the rough" or that perfectly pristine home.
I am on facebook; also ActiveRain, a real estate blog site plus this blog. I have business commitments and a personal life, so my plate is full. To any "fans" and lookers of the previous DanaCarreraDesigns website, thank you and please keep in touch through facebook or this blog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm in love with Cabbage Key Florida

How is it that I have lived in SouthWest Florida for so long and just now have discovered CABBAGE KEY?

Bonita and Fort Myers Beach are great but Cabbage Key, ahhhhhh; now there's an island. First of all, you can't drive there; accessible only by boat. And, it's a nice boat ride too, not out into the open sea of the Gulf of Mexico but within the confines of Pine Island Sound with lovely islands always visible for those who may fear venturing into deeper waters.

While pulling into the dock you pass several wonderful, older, white houses. One is simply a dollhouse, if I might use a real estate embellishment term. But, no, literally. The original owners (after the Calusa Indians, of course) of the island built several cottages, besides their main house and this smaller one was for their child to use as a dollhouse or playhouse. The main house (built in the 1920's) is now an inn and restaurant. I do love historic properties and I must say that they are few and far between in this stretch of Florida, so I was totally thrilled to discover these homes of character. The painted but worn-clean-to-the-wood, screen door alone made the trip worth it to me. I was happy that I had brought my film camera, just in case. Another highlight was the white, wooden water tower still in use. Writers, artists, dreamers and characters in general have called Cabbage Key home.

Currently, the biggest draw to the island is the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" theme, since it is said that Jimmy Buffet was singing about the inn on Cabbage Key. And, the fact that the walls are papered with signed dollar bills. The story goes that before the island was "discovered" the bar was mostly frequented by fisherman who may or may not have a dollar in their pockets the next time they stopped by for a beer. So, they would tape their dollars up on the walls of the bar with their names written on them to use as a credit for their next trip in, just in case. It was all interesting, needless to say.
Because all of Cabbage Key is privately owned, you and I won't be moving there anytime soon. but I am happy that at least they remain open to the public and that I do live within boating distance. If you are going to make a day trip of it, I highly recommend the Captiva Cruises as a way to depart from Captiva Island and comfortably cruise to Cabbage Key.

I highly recommend a trip to Cabbage Key to clear your head and re-start your inspiration. You too may fall in love.