Beauty of the beach gives colorful sunset surprises in Florida

I’ve lived in Florida my entire life, and despite jokes from others in other states, I don’t know if I ever want to live anywhere else. Oh sure, every time I visit Boston or Charleston, or when I’ve visited France or Spain, I dream of possibly living there.

But it’s tough to beat the days and days of sunshine here and the proximity to the beach. The weather allows for so many events 365 days a year, and Tampa Bay is host to amazing music, art and outdoor adventures.

I probably will never live On the beach, thanks to living through Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but it’s a blessing to live just 15 minutes away.

That means I can head out to the beach any night after 5 p.m. to catch the sunset. Honeymoon Island in Dunedin is the closest beach to me, so that’s where I often go.

This Thursday, I happened to do just that. And I got a very nice surprise.

sunset
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A peek into Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Although my main passion is tablescapes and entertaining, I also like to share my travels to hotels and restaurants, and share elegant surroundings.

Recently I visited Orlando, which is only two hours away from Tampa Bay , and stayed at the Hilton Bonnet Creek resort. The hotel is connected by the conference venue to the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. They each have their own pools and restaurants, but guests are free to use any of them.

I’m so glad I took the time to wander over to the Waldorf, which I had never stayed in. After strolling the long marble hallways, we turned to find a lovely tuxedoed waiter  in tails and a large silver platter of champagne flutes.
  Ahhhh, heaven.

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Hilton Bonnet Creek Pool, Bar the Best Parts

I had the opportunity to attend a conference this past weekend at the Hilton Bonnet Creek resort in Orlando.

My view from my window was amazing, overlooking the expansive lazy river and golf course.

The conference was filled with great speakers, informative classes, a chock-full expo and lots of networking, but I was glad I had the chance to sneak out in the late afternoon of the second day to cool off in this great pool.

lazy river window

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July 4 Reprise: Table Ideas for the Holiday

One of my favorite things about working for a coupon company was writing this blog post for our company blog about setting a great table for Fourth of July. Sharing here…

Setting the Stage for Fourth of July

crate-barrel-vinca-dinnerwareThinking about how to decorate for the Fourth of the July holiday? One of the best ways to bring it all together is to put your attention right where the focus is – not just on the food, but right there on the table itself! Whether you’re decorating the patio table or dining room table, getting a little bit fancy can make a big splash and make your guests feel welcome.

It’s one of the easiest ways to set the tone and mood for your get together and makes everyone feel special. And you’ll be sure to get that, “Wow! Everything looks great!”

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Farmtable Kitchen at Locale Market impressive in both fare and decor

Farm Table Kitchen, located inside Locale Market at SunDial in St. Petersburg, FL.

I went for a business lunch recently and my  associate  suggested Farmtable Kitchen at Locale Market. I had heard about the market but I must have been sleeping under a rock for two years,  because I didn’t know about Farmtable Kitchen.

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Winning Wish Farms berries from #hashed Food and Wine Conference contest

Two weeks ago, I attended the Food and Wine Sunday Supper Movement Conference. On the third day we had classes at the Rosen School of Hospitality and part of the day included a #Hashed contest which involved using CK Mondavi Wines, Wish Farm Berries and Cabot Cheese.

Our groups and we were challenged to make a cocktail with the ingredients  and also taking photos of it.

We were thrilled to win the contest with our Summer wine spritzer.

In addition to getting a ticket to next year’s conference, we also received a Wish Farms Berries Prize package. Wish Farms is based in Plant City, Florida, and has been growing berries since 1922.

Wish Farms blackberries on a lilac Spode plate.

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It’s Officially Summer as Tropical Smoothie Cafe Celebrates National Flip Flop Day June 16

Since I started working with marketing for the local Tampa Bay Tropical Smoothie Cafe team, one of my favorite times of year is mid-June.

That’s because  everyone gets rewarded for wearing flip flops! And in Florida, that’s a no-brainer.

Some flip flop gals in the St. Petersburg cafe in 2016.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe started celebrating National Flip Flop Day many years ago, and offers a free smoothie to customers on that day!

Customers wearing flip flops on June 16 from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Tropical Smoothie Café receive free, limited edition Sunshine Smoothie in 20th anniversary souvenir cup.

 

“National Flip Flop Day creates a mini vacation from everyday life by encouraging customers to kick back and wear flip flops while enjoying a freshly made smoothie. Customers wearing flip flops into Tropical Smoothie Café between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. will receive a free, limited edition Sunshine Smoothie in a 16-ounce, 20th anniversary souvenir cup. There are no strings — or in this case — shoe laces, attached.”

I decorated some of the tables in the Cafes with tropical colored plates, plants, tropical fruit and funny big sunglasses. 

 

 

 

 

Summer table in Florida starts with shells

In Florida, it’s summer. And that means, shells.

I’ve been starting to head out to the beach in the afternoon just to end the day, find treasures, chat with other beach-goers and watch the sunset.

In the past two years I’ve been visiting more beaches in Florida and really getting into shelling. Here, my giant vase of olives (middle), horse conchs (right),  jewel boxes (left), scallops (on platter) and whelks (on table).

(For more about identifying types of Florida shells, I Love Shelling is a great site.)

There are always shells on my patio – often times scattered across the table where I sort them after rinsing. So when I incorporate them into tablescapes, it’s because they are already there.

 

Here, I’ve added Cannonsburg cream basketweave dinner plates, Churchill salad plates,  glass bowls from Dansk.

My Butterfly Meadow Carved floats in the summer season

I was a lucky girl this past April when I randomly won an Instagram contest sponsored by Lenox, for four place settings of their newly-introduced Butterfly Meadow Carved to their everyday dinnerware line.  This is solid color pattern they’ve come out with after the popularity of their Butterfly Meadow pattern (here’s a photo of the tea set), which is white and richly decorated in pastel flowers and butterflies.

This latest Lenox pattern is available in aqua, white and grey. I thought it would be very “springy,” but here I have simply paired it with a paisley blue, grey and beige runner from Pottery Barn, and I think it has a very summer feel.

No telling what other combinations I will be able to create throughout the summer! Stay tuned!