From South Florida to Guatemala: Home is a Safe Place Regardless of Location

August 15, 2017

I started following along with Drea of Oh Dear Drea shortly after we left NYC, and I was hooked by her family travels, healthy eats and her colorful South Florida home. I had the chance to chat with her about what home means to her just before she announced that her and her family will be packing up and moving to Guatemala this October.

I sat with tears in my eyes as I read her announcement last week. When asked the question, what will you do in Guatemala? Drea replied,

“Climb volcanos” is what I answer every time. “And maybe start a second cookbook. Maybe.” And I will do those things… And I’ll explore, and I’ll learn, but one of the things I’m looking forward most is donating my time. I want to do good. For years now I’ve been wanting to start a non profit. I’ve wanted to use my resources (this space! Thank you guysssss!) to do more good for more people. I had bought a domain name. I starting making the plans. One month later I was in a hospital and bedridden. Everything was on hold. And maybe right now I won’t be creating my own non-profit (Fine. I know I need to be gentle on myself… and patient with myself and with everything). But I can do something. I can help someone. And I’m excited to. I want to live off this blog and our Airbnb as much as possible and be able to use my time to do something more, something bigger, something useful. And I can’t wait. Gosh, I can’t wait. I’m grateful that I even have the opportunity to do something like this.”

Their decision to move is not only something I understand, but something I admire. It makes me unbelievably happy to see other families taking such risks to fulfill what’s important to them in life. That being said, I am beyond excited to share this interview with you guys. Make sure to read through for links to all of Drea‘s social channels, cook book, Airbnb listing and shop.

So I obviously know you, but tell my readers a little about you, how you got started with your blog and the role home has played in the success of your business.

I’m drea— an endless dreamer, over thinker, and wanderer. So I started blogging about 16 years ago. (I know you can drop your jaw now). I never did it with plans to make a career or anything like that. When I started blogging that wasn’t an option or idea. It wasn’t until a few years later thatI saw people actually asking to be sponsored for their blogs and writings. But agian, I just kept going—- using my blog as a creative outlet, a place to store millions of photos, and a journal where I would share and over share everything. From the beginning I had a pretty decent readership. I’m not sure how, it just naturally happened where people read and followed my space. And it wasn’t until about 6-7 years ago (a decade after I began blogging) where I started using my space to make money. Originally with sidebar ads, then sponsored posts and such. Through the years the focus was always on my life— but for me, a big part of my life was making a comfortable home. From a very early age I always appreciated a well organizing and designed space. And with each home I made (into college, out onto my own, across the country, into my first home with my daughter, and now this home) I decorated and shared my space on my blog. A lot of design blogs shared my photos and inquired about my home and it, in a lot of ways became what some people came to my blog for.

How long have you lived in the area and this particular home? What made you choose South Florida?

I’ve lived in West Palm Beach for about 7 or 8 years now. Since right before my daughter was born. Before that I was in Miami. Before that Arizona (but only for about 10 months). When I moved back to West Palm, I did it because I was pregnant. I was a single mom at the time and I knew how incredibly important it would be for me to be near family at this time. So I came… and I stayed. I love it for the weather, the beach, and the fruit. I moved to Arizona for the weather, but quickly learned no one would visit me out there and there of course is no beach. So Florida made more sense 🙂 

Have you always lived in Florida or did you live somewhere else beforehand?

I was born in Florida but grew up in central Massachusetts. I did not love it. Through and through I am a tropical loving girl. I need sunshine, warmth, and tropical fruit for my sanity. I went to college in Rhode Island, and while I do love Rhode island, I could never fully live there— it’s just too cold.

What helps you establish a sense of home (material and nonmaterial)?

I dont need much. I need a warm and cozy bed (two pillows is preferred) and lots of light. Not much else. My home is very decorated and has collections of things, but I in no way require it— an empty clean and minimalistic space is fine for me too. In our own home we’re sure to have coziness, lots of light, and a place to cook comforting meals.

Who lives with you in your space? Do you host a lot of visitors or entertain frequently? 

In our home it’s me, my daughter Marlowe, and my husband Alex. Marlowe is 7 and a creative force like no other. She’s constantly in her corner or her room creating art. And Alex, he’s a chef, backer, and a backyard farmer. If he’s not in the kitchen, then he’s in the backyard and vice versa. We don’t host a lot guests and visitors— probably mostly due to my health. I got pretty sick about two years ago and since then it’s been pretty quiet around here. We love when friends stop by, I just don’t usually spend the time and energy to plan and make it happen.

What activity do you enjoy at home over any other place?

Honestly, when the weather is nice I love to lay on the couch with all the windows open and the breeze coming in or sit in the front porch hammock chair drinking a smoothie. I just love to relax here. And honestly, I enjoy working here too. My office is a space where I truly don’t mind sitting to get some work done.

Is there anything that helps you feel at home when you’re away on vacation? Asking for a friend…. 😉

Two two pillow comfy bed thing is magic, I swear. Either that or cooking while away. We usually find ourselves making a soup or warm curry— this helps too. There’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup to make me feel comfort and at ease— no matter what the weather is.

After some time away from home what do you crave most about your space?

Probably my shower. We don’t have fancy bathrooms— they’re pretty outdated and we certainly haven’t bothered to re-do them, but there’s something I really enjoy about getting nice and clean at home with all my belongings right there with me.

What’s one thing you’re the most proud of about your home? Is there anything you’d change if you could?

The backyard has been a huge achievement for sure. When I moved in you couldn’t even step onto the first step it was so overgrown. Now we have garden beds, over 30 varieties of edible plants, a wonderful hang out space and more. In general my home was a hugeeeee fixer upper— so no matter where I look, I feel pretty proud. This space has come a long way.

What’s your definition of home?

Have I said a comfy bed with two pillow to many times? Haha. But it’s true. Home is my safe place where I can make a cozy meal and lay down for a good nights rest.

Find Drea on, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter.
Purchase her cook book here, visit her shop
& rent her beautiful home on Airbnb here!

Photography by Drea & Hannah Mayo

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