Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faith (in businesses) restored.

We've always loved Cafe Bohemia. The coffee shop on Central Avenue, just a few blocks west of downtown, is artsy and casual, with comfortable couches and little bistro tables. It hosts films and art exhibits and poetry readings, and it has great coffee and fun sandwiches and salads. And free wi-fi, too. And it has a sign, reminding customers that it's not Starbucks. No ventis or grandes or talls here.

So, yeah, we're there a lot. And we didn't really need another reason to love them more.

But today, we found one.

Dropped by to meet a friend there, for an afternoon cafe con leche. A sign on the door said the coffee shop was closing early so the staff could attend a fundraiser benefit for another local coffee shop, Local Coffee + Tea. The sign also asked their customers to go to the other fundraiser, too.

You might have read our blog a couple of days ago: Owner of Local Coffee + Tea was calling it quits, but the three 20-somethings who work at the shop weren't ready to give up. They planned to take over, save it, revive it. And the fundraiser tonight was the first step toward that.

Now, purely in economic terms, one coffee shop closing might be good news for the remaining coffee shops. Cuts down on competition, frees up customers.
So why did Cafe Bohemia close early, cutting into its daily profits, to help another coffee shop just a few blocks away? Why did it send its customers to a competing shop?

"They're our friends," we were told.

A few blocks north, we drove by a Starbucks. There, it was business as usual.

Save calories so you can eat out more.

We love eating out (at independent restaurants, of course! for cool choices), and we don't always choose the healthiest options. So when we're home we're always looking for ways to cut back on calories and stick to a healthy diet.

We got an e-mail recently from, with tons of tips. Here are some of our favorite suggestions from their list. For more suggestions, you can go to their site, here:


* Drink 1 cup of diet soda instead of 1 cup of regular soda. Save 97 calories!
* Swap a 12-oz. glass of whole milk for skim milk. Save 96 calories!
* Drink two 12-oz. light beers this weekend instead of two regular beers. Save 100 calories!
* Prepare your coffee with 4 oz. of fat-free half and half instead of regular half and half. Save 88 calories!


* Spread your whole grain waffles with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup instead of 1 tablespoon of margarine or butter. Save 110 calories!
* Substitute 3 oz. of turkey sausage for a serving of pork sausage. Save 120 calories!
* Grab a small bagel instead of a medium bagel. Save 99 calories!

Snacks and Sides

* Dip 1 cup celery into your favorite salsa or hummus instead of 1 oz. of tortilla chips. Save 125 calories!
* Eat an entire medium apple instead of a small (5 oz.) candy apple. Save 118 calories!
* Bake 2 oz of oven fries in lieu of 2 oz. of fast food fries. Save 88 calories!
* Try 1.5 oz. of fresh grapes instead of 1.5 oz. of raisins. Save 98 calories!
* Choose 3 oz. of mozzarella cheese for your sandwich instead of Swiss cheese. Save 108 calories!

Lunch and Dinner
* Substitute a fat-free beef hot dog for a regular beef hot dog. Save 104 calories!
* Build a sandwich with 1.5 oz. of deli turkey breast instead of an equivalent of hard salami. Save 119 calories!
* Forget broccoli cheddar soup. A 7-oz portion of vegetable soup is better. Save 119 calories!
* Unwrap your 13-inch tortilla wrap and make a sandwich on a 3-oz. whole grain bagel instead. Save 96 calories!
* Eat only half of your hamburger or sandwich bun. Save 100 calories!

Condiments and Sauces

* Dip your salad in a side of ranch dressing (2 tsp.) instead of pouring 2 Tbsp of dressing on the salad. Save 97 calories!
* Add flavor to vegetables with 3 oz. of hot sauce—not 1 oz of bleu cheese dressing. Save 117 calories!
* Try either cheese or croutons on your salad—not both Save 72-116 calories!

Sweets and Desserts

* Serve ice cream in a dish instead of a waffle cone. Save 121 calories!
* Finish dinner with 1 cup of low-fat frozen yogurt instead of regular ice cream. Save 121 calories!
* Instead of 4 oz. of regular chocolate pudding, enjoy a sugar-free portion. Save 92 calories!

Friday, September 26, 2008, graphically

Need a job? New shopping center looking for workers

Considering the economy I figured it would be a good idea to get this information out there.
I was watching BayNews9 this morning and saw that there is a new "high end" shopping mall opening up in Wesley Chapel.

They are having a job fair today in Wesley Chapel at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites at 8310 Galbraith Rd from 10am - 7pm.

They say to come dressed to impress, and bring your resume. The jobs they are hiring for range anywhere from managers to retail shop help. There was no information on which stores would be going into this center, but let's all hope they are independently owned! You can check out the information on under local news in Pasco. Good luck to you all.

Your Local Shopper,


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shop in Brandon?

One of our favorite members, Mary Berg, recently alerted us about a really cool local shopping campaign taking place in Brandon.
The Osprey Observer is encouraging its readers to shop at local, small businesses. How? By giving gifts! Check it out:


We want to keep our local small businesses open and in business. We all recognize that we need to make a change in our habits, including transportation, driving and more, but how about making it a point to shop local to keep our local, small businesses open?

Osprey Observer staff, advertisers and local small businesses have been meeting and developing a Shop Local Campaign which will encourage residents to consider shopping at a local, small business first to show support in the community.

Each edition, residents can enter the contest by answering the trivia questions correctly. In addition, any reader who has a receipt from a local, small business can bring it into the Osprey Observer offices for a free gift, recognizing their contribution to the economy.

For every receipt brought in - which can also be scanned in and e-mailed to, subject line containing Shop Local - residents will be entered to win the grand prize and runner-up prizes. The grand prize is a one-night stay in a tropical suite at the Tradewinds Resort valued at $400, with a runner-up prize of a night's stay at Palmer House Bed and Breakfast or Cross Creek Ranch.

"We are a local business, and we want to support our local businesses," said Michelle Colesanti, Osprey Observer office manager. "We are developing a campaign that starts right in our own offices and with our own spending, and we hope to continue this trend throughout the community."

Afterimage Salon owner Donna Froncillo wants to get involved with the shop local campaign and says she would like to see, "one coupon for 15 percent off and get a list of merchants that are willing to participate or merchants who will agree to make dontations to a green foundation for every customer that brings the coupon in." She suggests making the coupons available online or through email.

Subscribers to the weekly community update newsletter at will also begin receiving a link to community specials or community coupons as an added feature of the Shop Local campaign.

To get involved in the campaign, email Marie Gilmore at or call 657-2418.

Me again! After shopping, please let us know about your favorite shops so we can add them to Tampa Bay's most comprehensive directory of independents:

Remember, it's free to get listed, free to browse, free to join!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Founders Day Celebration in New Port Richey

It's that time again. This Friday September 26th through Sunday the 28th downtown New Port Richey will once again go back in time and celebrate the founding of our little town. The city was founded in 1924 and every year we celebrate with a little festival that lasts for 3 days. There are so many different things going on that you just have to go and check it out. Some of the highlights will be the music at the band shell, the NASCAR virtual simulator, and they even have "Leashes and Lunch by the Lake", which is a picnic that you can have with your doggy. And they even state that if you dont have one, you can "borrow" one for lunch. You can check out all of the details at their website, Hope to see you there!

Your Local Shopper


A plea: Help save a coffee shop

Just read a story in the St. Petersburg Times, and can't decide if I should be sad or inspired.
Turns out the owner of one of my favorite coffee shops has decided to call it quits. Michael Duranko, who has owned the cafe for about 18 months, last week told his staff that he just couldn't carry the financial burden, writes Waveney Ann Moore.

We've seen this happen before, unfortunately. Too many times. The little shop on First Avenue South in downtown St. Pete has gone through several owners in the past few years. Each time, new guys move in, add new furniture, new fixtures, make it all even prettier than before. There's a cute courtyard in the back, nice artwork by local artists on the walls, and great coffee and other treats. Lots of organic, lots of vegan, even.

So what happened? Don't we all still drink coffee?

Maybe the location is to blame? It's convenient to the Times, and a lot of us go there quite often, but maybe it's just a few blocks too removed from the real center of downtown?
Maybe it's the economy? More people just drinking coffee at home?
Maybe it's competition: two Starbucks within walking distance.

No matter the reason, we're sad to hear it's not working out ...

But now, the inspirational part:

The coffee shop's three employees -- Kyle DeStefano, 24, Nathalia Estrada, 25, and Ellen Auger, 26 -- aren't giving up on the shop. They plan to take over, keep it going, liven it up, the Times reports. They're planning a game night, jazz night, all sorts of fun things.

The owner hopes to help them with the transition, and is optimistic the three 20-somethings will make it. The landlord isn't so sure, Rent's $3,000 a month, he tells the Times, and three budding entrepreneurs might have a hard time paying that.

Of course, I hope they make it. From what I've seen, the three all work really hard, and seem ambitious and dedicated. And the coffee there is great.

So, here is a plea: If you're downtown, stop by their coffee shop, Local Coffee+Tea, at 330 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. And if you can make it there Saturday, they're having a benefit to raise money for the shop. $10 gets you in, for music, snacks, fun.

I know we all have our own budget issues, and I know we can't save every business out there. But independent businesses keep our communities going, they keep our neighborhoods unique, and they keep our local economy going.
So anything you can do to keep them afloat is definitely most welcome.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shopping, one piece at a time

keata138 (check her profile in "meet the staff" page) sent us this recently ... and it inspired us to go hunting for treasures at some of our favorite antique shops.

She writes:

Many find solace in things that match. I, however, am not one of those people. Sometimes, single purchases over a long period of time yield the most interesting results—you simply have to be patient.

For instance, many purchase their dishware in a box, all of the pieces designed to beautifully compliment one another. But since dishes and silverware are one of the most common gifts for those entering the sanctity of marriage and couples don’t always share the gift or their partner’s taste, portions or entire sets are discarded into the “Purgatory for Rejected Belongings”.

This purgatory is my hunting ground and the treasures here appeal to both those with a penchant for sets and those who prefer to create eclectic mixes. As I have mentioned, I am the latter but have been known to buy sets at random. Over the past several years, I’ve collected pieces from local antique shops, thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. The styles I choose are similar—from antique to contemporary, they’re all cool colors.

My cabinets cradle prized pieces from almost every decade in greens, teals, yellows, blues, and the occasional violet. Think of a table setting at my house as a schizophrenic peacock, which in my opinion, is worlds more interesting than a landscape of identical pieces. And the best thing about displaying pieces like this for your company is the hunt.

Whether you pay $1.50 or $150 for a piece, it’s your find, chosen specifically by you (the one who will ultimately use the piece anyway) and you worked hard to find it. As your collection grows, like a garden of colored porcelain, it gets better. Odd additions, like the Siamese cats with rhinestone eye salt n’ pepper shakers on my table, personalize and enhance the collection.

So instead of going and buying a box of dishes or silverware set, try going to one of your local “junk” shops. It’s almost unfathomable how many amazing things others consider junk. You’ll have fun, find treasure, spend less, and help support your local economy by shopping at an independent store.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Being Sick and Surviving It Without Medication

So, over this last weekend I got sick. And I don't mean the typical sniffles and a little cough. I mean the cannot breath through your nose at all and deep painful cough kind of sick.
Because of my current medications I can't take the typical, TheraFlu, NyQuil, and other OTC cold meds.

So this time around I had to find different ways to deal with it.
I had a lot of help from my friends, and I wanted to share the different things I did that allowed me to survive the weekend and actually make it work today.

First and foremost when you first show signs of a cold take zinc. I, of course, didn't actually get to do that because I woke up with a full blown head cold! But my friend Ester, THE local shopper herself, swears by it.

Now for the sinus and yuckiness, my stepmom suggested to use saline nasal spray. (she's doing rotations to be a doctor, so I listened) :) She said to use that a couple times a day and it should break everything up and help to clear it up. It also helps if you have that really dry nose thing going, too. And one thing I really didn't think about was, blowing your nose. Now I know this might sound like common sense to most of you, but I never really made it a practice to do that. I just kind of suffered with a stuffy nose. But it helps by first of all getting the bad stuff out and of course by clearing up your nose.

Another really helpful thing was Vicks Vapor Rub, or any other menthol type rub. Now understanding that I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be, this stuff was like a miracle. It seemed to help break up the stuff in my chest too.

Oh and a key item, soft tissues. If you are blowing your nose a lot its good to have them so as to keep the skin intact on your face.

Well, I hope this help someone out there. Flu season is on its way. If anyone has any suggestions about any other secret remedies I am definitely open to them.

Your Local Shopper