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sugar sand fest 2017

Our Weekend Adventures – Sugar Sand Festival

The fact that there are so many things to do the Tampa Bay area is what makes living here so wonderful.  Any given weekend we can find a host of activities and festivals to attend. This past weekend alone there was a Blueberry Festival, the Mainsail Art Show, the Sugar Sand Festival, a handful of concerts to pick from, flea markets and farmers markets galore.  We had so many options, it was a bit tough to decide what to do.  We opted for the Sugar Sand Festival and a concert.

Sugar Sand Festival

We feel so blessed to live near Clearwater Beach. When we first moved down many years ago, we often went to the beach to watch sunset. Over the years, we’ve watched as the beach transformed from old Florida mom & pop motels to first class resorts and national chain hotels.  While the changes bring in more tourists, they also bring in first class events like the Sugar Sand Festival.

Sugar Sand Festival

Saturday we ventured down to the beach to take it all in. The Sugar Sand Festival features 21,000 square feet of sand sculpture all housed under a tent.  Sand Sculpture artists come from around the country to show off their skills and trust me their skills are mad!  We walked through twice and I still don’t think I took it all in.

Sunday found us venturing into the Channel Side district of Tampa to attend Neil Diamond’s 50th Anniversary Tour. He’s getting up in age, but still sounds as amazing has he did twenty years ago. His library of work is so vast that it was impossible to recall all of his top hits. Of course, being a Red Sox fan, singing along to Sweet Caroline was the highlight of the evening.

This next weekend may find us sticking a little closer to home to tackle a home project or two.


Creating inviting outdoor living spaces

Well-tailored outdoor spaces are necessary in any warm climate where the back yard becomes additional living space. It is a place to relax, eat al fresco, watch a little television and enjoy cooking out.  As spring morphs into summer, it is time to think about refreshing or decorating outdoor spaces. Creating inviting outdoor living spaces is simple with the right approach.  Whether the lanai is enclosed or left open to the elements, here are a few tips that will have the space looking stylish and welcoming.

outdoor dining

Generate Ideas

Jot down a few ideas on the function of the outdoor space. Decide what activities the space will serve. Will it be for outdoor dining, lounging by the pool, or both?  Understanding the purpose the space will serve guides the furniture purchases. If lounging is the primary activity, do not spend time looking for the best outdoor dining set. Focus instead on the seating.

Try It Out

Today’s outdoor furniture selection has grown beyond the Adirondack chair and the old fold out lawn chair. More stylish and sturdier options are widely available, from complete outdoor living room sets, to adorable bistro dining sets. Before purchasing patio furniture, try it out. Sit in the love seat and chairs to see if it is comfortable. If it is, it is more likely to get regular use. Nothing hard and uncomfortable will be worth the money.


Low Maintenance

Do not waste time with pieces requiring a lot of upkeep. Opt instead for easy low maintenance materials that can take whatever Mother Nature tosses their way.  Look for teak, wicker, cedar, metals and composite plastics. These will stand up to summer rains and hot sun for years to come.

Embrace Color

In today’s market place, the color choices are not limited to beige, white, gray or black. Finishes are available in a wide range of colors. One thing to consider, is keeping the vibrant, trendy colors to the seat cushions and rugs so as not to date the main pieces.


Invest Wisely

These pieces may need to last more than a few years and investing in quality pieces will help them to last. Cheap is not always better, in most cases cheap is cheap. It is better to spend wisely on pieces that will last, rather than on pieces that will break or rust over time.  Plastic resin chairs and tables are affordable, but over time, the plastic breaks down and cracks.


Round out the space with outdoor window treatments, rugs, decorative lighting, and tiki torches to add a little personality to the space.  Each accessory adds an extra bit of interest and keeps the space from appearing flat.  Outdoor rugs keep your feet comfortable and safe from the rough feel of concrete. They also offer a great opportunity for a splash of color while tying the space together.  Window treatments keep the sun out and keep the space a bit cool.  Plant a variety of flowers to add color and texture to the room. Hang paper lanterns for a festive vibe and keep the bugs away with citronella votive candles.

Turn any drab out door space into an inviting space the neighbors will be jealous of with these easy tips.

are we happy yet

Come on, get happy

Merriam-Webster defines happy as enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment.  There is a lot going on in the world that makes happiness seemingly harder to find, but what if I told you happiness is a choice? Despite all of the crap going on and the many WTF moments we are facing, it is still possible to find contentment and well-being.

Yes, I am veering away from my usual content to share with you a new book that just came out this week. Lisa Cypers Kamen’s book Are We Happy Yet? is a guide to finding joy in our lives. Lisa is a positive psychology coach and expert in life-crisis recovery. In the book, she discusses her eight keys to unlocking joy in our lives and through exercises, she provides the reader with the skills to up their happiness factor.  As she points out, happiness is an inside job.

are we happy yet

From time to time life throws us curve balls, whether it’s a job loss, the death of a loved one,  a divorce or the odd feeling that we are trapped in an alternative universe. We all face adversity at some point in our lives. We can allow the adversity to keep us stuck and miserable or we can chose to rise to the occasion and find contentment. It all comes down to how we react, think and feel about our circumstances and ourselves.

For some, the path to contentment in the face of a crisis is easy. For others its fraught with challenges thought to be insurmountable. It’s easy to wallow in the negative and find a safe place among poisoned thoughts, but after awhile those thoughts become too unbearable and something snaps. It either snaps us out of the funk or drives us deeper. The search for inner peace and a sense of happy is a journey.

I’m on that journey right right now, reading everything I can get my hands on to help guide me.  My reading list is a litany of self help books by authors Gabby Bernstein, Brendan Burchard, Elizabeth Gilbert, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Lisa Nichols. It’s because of this journey that I am looking forward to adding Are We Happy Yet to my reading list.


“Positive psychology focuses on what’s right with life here, now and tomorrow, rather than ruminating on what’s wrong with it and what happened in the past,” says Cypers Kamen. “Are We Happy Yet? helps readers embrace the absolute best parts of life, each and every day.”

Through the pages of Are We Happy Yet?, Cypers Kamen teaches readers how to:

  • Accept the past for what it is—a reference point, not a destination
  • Embrace the truth that, while life is tough, you can be happy
  • Transform your relationship with yourself from enemy to ally
  • Appreciate why less is often more
  • Focus on what’s right with your life, not what’s wrong
  • Control the only person you can—yourself!
  • Invest in yourself to become more mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit
  • Use your newly discovered joy to become a more positive and productive influence in the world

We chose our reactions to life’s dramas and traumas. I know from experience it’s easy to let curve balls knock you out of the game. Negative past experiences can derail your life if you allow them to. My hope is that Lisa’s book will guide readers to learning how to be brave and let go of the baggage that holds one back.  I know I could use another tool in my box.

*this post was not sponsored and all opinions expressed are my own.

palm beach sandals

A tale of the iconic summer sandal

Our story begins with Jackie Kennedy and a trip she took. She discovered a sandal and fell in love. She brought the sandal back to a cobbler in Palm Beach and asked him to recreate it.  Well, it became a popular summer sandal among the Palm Beach elite including the princess of preppy beach style, Lilly Pulitzer, herself.  Eventually, every preppy closet boasted a pair or two of Bonanno’s.


A short while later, another company based in Miami, Jack Rogers, started to mass produce a similar style shoe.  Jack’s were, in fact, the original knock off’s, while Bonannos were  the “go-to” brand.  Bonanno’s were sold locally to those wintering in Palm Beach while Jack’s became readily available to those less fortunate to winter anywhere warm.  Without Jack’s, the coveted Palm Beach Sandal sandal may not have enjoy such wide appeal. Both summer sandals have a cult following, with people loyal to one or the other and rarely do fans switch sides.

Interestingly, a few years ago Bonanno’s seemed to disappear from the radar. Things got crazy after their semiannual sale. Customers bought sandals from them and unfortunately never received their purchases. This event created quite a distrust of the brand leaving those faithful fans to take to the blogosphere, twitter and any other social commentary site they could to trash the company. No matter how many calls were made, no one managed to either be refunded their money or receive the sandals they purchased. It left a lot of loyal customers pissed off and scratching their heads trying to understand how a brand as iconic as Bonanno’s could screw over the customer.

As this was playing out, I spotted Jack Rogers on sale at RueLaLa and treated myself to my first pair of Jackie inspired summer foot wear.  For a while, I kept an eye out for Bonnano’s and discovered the website had been taken down and there was no trace of this iconic brand anywhere. I always wondered what had happened, as so many the blogs I followed at the time were loyal to the brand.

I recently purchased a pair the iconic summer sandals made by the Palm Beach Sandal Company at DSW. Honestly, I thought I was buying a a cheap knock off of both Jack’s and Bonanno’s as it wasn’t a familiar brand to me. My fear of buying a knock off of a knock off sent me to Google to find the origin and backstory of this brand claiming to be the authentic Palm Beach Sandal. What I discovered was a bit sad to say the least. Bonanno’s were no more, gone was the sixty year old brand made famous by Jackie O.

There was a divorce and Steven Bonanno had to turn over the entire business to his ex-wife. Can you imagine having to give up the company your family built to your ex?  Bizarre!  As most divorces go there may have been quite a bit of animosity that led to the trashing of the Bonanno brand.  This didn’t stop her. She apparently rebranded the company as Palm Beach Sandal Company. She set up a new website, did away with the custom sandal widget and started to sell to retail outlets.

Now that I have both brands, I am not sure I prefer one to the other. The differences are simple. Jacks are available at Nordstrom’s and Palm Beach Sandals are an online purchase only, unless you frequent Palm Beach. The soles of Jack’s are rubber, while Palm Beach uses a full leather sole.  Jack’s uppers are painted leather while Palm Beach dies their uppers. Both brands have similar price points, making price a non-issue.  Jack’s are made overseas, and Palm Beach Sandals are made in the USA.

Do you have a preference, if so, why? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Friday Finds – Four Unique Finds

Happy Friday!  This week’s Friday Finds features a few cool things I’ve encountered this week.

First up is an incredible journal that is sure to boost productivity, positivity and gratitude. It’s called “The Five Minute Journal”. It let’s you note your daily affirmations, daily gratitude and things that will make your day a smashing success. I think it’s a little better than a regular planner as it’s not really a “to-do list” or a schedule. It forces you to look at ways to focus on your higher self. For me, it’s a fabulous tool as I set out to manifest huge accomplishments this year.

On a walk through of Marshall’s this week looking for a cake plate I need for a photo shoot I spotted this amazing cake plate by Madison and Mercer. A large silver platter sits atop three elephant figurines, making it an amazing convo piece if I’ve ever seen one. Of course, I think it’s begging to be the center piece of my next cocktail party.

I found these beautiful pens at Paper Source. Aren’t they perfect for the home office?  I was thinking they would be great additions to stylized photo shoots too.

Then, my love for artisan jewelry led me to spot this gem from Sundance Catalog. I love the pearls and silver heart. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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