Saturday, October 18, 2008

$450 raised for Friends of Strays would like to thank Dee, owner of Rose Garden Boutique, and all the great people who came to our party in Dunedin today. We raised almost $450 (!!) and lots of merchandise for a great cause, the Friends of Strays in Pinellas County.

A special thanks also goes out to Chip Marshall of the Broadway Training Institute in Dunedin for bringing along the Broadway Babies.

From the school's Web site: The Institute provides professional vocal training, film acting, dance and stagecraft. Students learn by doing, as the Broadway Training Institute also produces shows for the Human Rights Group Inc, the Junior Storytellers, Artistry Players, the Pinellas County Public Libraries, and other organizations.

We know you're here for our pictures, not our exceptionally well-crafted chatter, so here they are:

Friday, October 17, 2008

On the hunt for hot wings!

I’m the kind of girl who prefers good bar food to a 5-star culinary masterpiece any day. I’m just not the fois gras type. And who the heck knows what wine goes with what today anyway?

I can put on a gown and diamond studs, go to some event, and within 10 minutes my slingbacks are under the chair, my hair’s down and I’m looking for a nice plate of …

Hot wings.

Yep. Tough to be glam when your chin’s dripping red sauce and your manicure is greasy. Not to mention the breading stuck to my hair.

So, I consider myself to be quite the hot wing connoisseur, since I get them wherever I go. But recently, I’ve had my expertise challenged by a couple of friends who in were in quite a brouhaha over just who has the best wings. Their choices were the place with the, uh, owl on the logo and the house where they boast that they, um, serve ‘em naked.

Since these friends are male, I countered that they’re rating a couple of other things than the quality of the wings.

To make a long story short, I am on a mission. For the next few weeks, I’m officially on the hunt for the area’s Best Hot Wings. I’ll be sampling at every mom’n’pop nook and hole-in-the-wall pub around. I’ve got plenty of wet naps and a bunch of antacid. It’s a dirty job, but hey, someone’s got to do it.

Suggestions are welcome. No jacket or tie required.

If you can't make it to our party in Dunedin ....

... here is something else you can do!

I was looking through the paper today and I found this little festival that is going on up here in Pasco. It's 11am - 4pm. today, and it looks like it will be a lot of fun for the kids. They are having face painting, games, raffles. And they are even having a costume contest for kids ages 3-12 with a prize of a gift card! Oh, and if you are a kid who is wearing a costume, you can get a free slice of pizza and some cotton candy. Mmmm, Mmmm, Good! For more information you can call 727-863-5100 or 727-862-4090.

I, of course, will be in Dunedin enjoying the party at the Rose Garden Boutique. That's at 737 Broadway, and we're having tons of snacks and drinks and raffles. We hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend everyone! And GO RAYS!

Your Local Shopper


Thursday, October 16, 2008

New web site

We recently came across a new Web site,, a site in which current and former employees talk about the company.

First, the background and the disclaimers:

The site is a project of Wal-Mart Watch, a decidedly anti-Wal Mart group, and obviously not affiliated in any way with the company.

The stories deal with wages, discrimination, corporate culture. Site says all are true, but of course we have no way of independently verifying it. Many entries are anonymous; others signed just with initials.

Now, for some of the stories:

M.L. in Illinois on Wages

"When you have your evaluation each year, you get a very small raise. Then they cut your hours back so that you don't make anymore take home than you did before."

Anonymous on How Not to Vote

"We were told that if a Democrat president is voted in, that the first bill to be reviewed is the union bill and if it passes we will loose benefits, pay, etc."

Anonymous mother of two

"I am not available at night. That is not an option for me, being a single mom. I feel like I am getting pushed out of my full-time job because of being a single mom."

Late For Lunch

"I was a ten year Associate at a Wal-Mart. After all those years of dedicated service I was fired for going to lunch one minute late."

Some thoughts.
Now, we realize Wal-Mart is a business and must look out for its own interests. The mom of two, for example, she might not be able to work nights, but if that's when Wal-Mart needs workers, she needs to find way to make that work, or look for another job.

Wal-Mart is not a charity, and we are not expecting it to operate as if it were. We do ask for some compassion, though. Perhaps offer her a job at a different store, if she's an otherwise good employee? But that might not be possible. Not giving her day hours doesn't necessarily make Wal-Mart evil.

I have personally worked at several reputable companies, often working the late shift. That's just the nature of my business (journalism). But the companies have often tried to take into account that staffers have outside lives, too. It doesn't mean giving us all day shifts -- that just wasn't realistic -- but it meant maybe giving us a day off on short notice, when a family thing came up.

If Wal-Mart is making an effort, we can't blame them for asking the single mom to work night hours.

Now, for the one-minute late worker ... that, if true, is unexcusable.

We'll certainly be monitoring the site, and urge you to do so, too.

Cleaning up a mess

This past weekend I had some family in town, with dogs. It was wonderful to see my family, but with the large dog ... not so much. I have 2 cats at home so they weren't too happy about it, either.

But the biggest problem I found, besides the screaming cats, was the mess a dog can leave behind. I have a lighter colored carpet and at one point the dog had gotten his dirty little paws on the carpet, with mud! I was not happy, but I did find a little bit of info on cleaning it up.

I, of course, looked at our local news stations website,, and found something pretty interesting. I wanted to clean the mess up as quickly as possible, but according to Mrs. Fixit, it is best to let it sit and dry. Once it dries you can just get a broom and brush it til it breaks up and then vacuum it.

Well, I tried it and it worked wonderfully. You can't even tell there was anything on it at all. I just wanted to share this with everyone because I was amazed. :)

Your Local Shopper


Happy people

Found this in and thought it was interesting enough to pass along to you ...It's from a study on job satisfaction, byt the University of Chicago.

According to the study, here are the jobs with happiest employees:

1. Clergy Jobs
Job Description: Conduct religious worship and perform spiritual functions associated with beliefs and practices of religious faith or denomination. For clergy, job satisfaction is gained through intense faith, and the act of providing guidance and counsel to others.

Very happy: 67.2%
Median salary*: $44,102

2. Firefighter Jobs

Job Description: Control and extinguish fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts. Firefighters live their lives on the call to public service. Although the hours are long, and risks are high, firefighters also experience high job satisfaction, and are held in high esteem by their communities.

Very happy: 57.2%
Median salary: $45,553

3. Travel Agent Jobs
Job Description: Travel agents plan and sell transportation and accommodations for travel agency customers. Imagine the job satisfaction of creating vacations for others. Everyone love a vacation, and the happiness rubs off on travel agents.

Very happy: 56.5%
Median hourly rate (travel agents): $14.23

4. Architect Jobs

Job Description: Plan and design structures, such as private residences, office buildings, theaters, factories, and other structural property. Not only do Architects create the buildings we depend on to live and work in, but they also obtain job satisfaction from using creativity in their designs.

Very happy: 53.5%
Median salary: $54,079

5. Special Education Teacher Jobs

Job Description: Teach school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. Teaching is not necessarily an easy thing. But most teachers have at least one story of connecting with a student, and the job satisfaction that comes with knowing they've helped someone.

Very happy: 52.6%
Median salary (preschool, kindergarten or elementary school): $41,344
Median salary (secondary school): $43,060

6. Professional Actor Jobs

Job Description: Actors play parts in stage, television, radio, video, or motion picture productions for entertainment, information, or instruction. Not only do actors experience job satisfaction from using creativity, but they also get to entertain people, and make them happy.

Very happy: 51.0%
Salary varies greatly

7. Science Technician Jobs
Job Description: Use principles and theories of science and mathematics to solve problems in research and development, and to help invent and improve products and processes. Scientists experience the job satisfaction of contributing to people's health and the understanding of the world.

Very happy: 51.0%
Median salary (research scientists): $72,435

8. Automotive Technician Jobs
Job Description: Automotive service technicians and mechanics diagnose, adjust, repair, or overhaul automotive vehicles. With diagnosing and repairing vehicles comes the thrill of solving puzzles, and the job satisfaction of providing service to others.

Very happy: 53.6%**
Median hourly rate (mechanics/auto tune up): $15.26

9. Industrial Engineer Jobs

Job Description: Design, develop, test, and evaluate integrated systems for managing industrial production processes. Job satisfaction for industrial engineers comes from designing and managing systems that make jobs easier, and improve efficiency.

Very happy: 48.4%
Median salary: $61,729

10. Airline Pilot Jobs

Job Description: Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers pilot and navigate the flight of multi-engine aircraft in regularly scheduled service for transport of passengers and cargo. Pilots carry a lot of responsibility on their wings, but they also experience job satisfaction from having others depend on them for safe travel.

Very happy: 49.1%
Median hourly rate (airline pilots, copilots, or flight engineers): $63

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gulfport-St. Pete Beach trolley

Gulfport is now linked with the Gulf beaches. A new trolley takes residents to and from St. Pete Beach and Gulfport. The service begins tomorrow (Thu., Oct. 16) and is available daily, 7:45 a.m. to 9:50 p.m. Going shopping back and forth just got a lot easier.

Here's where you can get a copy of the schedule:
Gulfport City Hall, 2401 53rd St. S.
Gulfport Senior Center, 5501 27th Ave. S.
Gulfport Library, 5501 28th Ave. S.
Gulfport Recreation Center, 5730 Shore Blvd. S.

The schedule is also available on line at

Pink flamingo signs will make it easier to find the trolley stops:
Gulfport Senior Center
The Gulfport Casino
58th St. and 28th Ave. S.
61st St. S. and Gulfport Boulevard
Pasadena Shopping Center
Palms of Pasadena Hospital
Corey Ave. and Blind Pass
75th Ave. and Gulf Boulevard.

Cash fare and exact change are required. The fares listed are for one way. Regular fare is $1.75, seniors 85 cents; students $1.25*. The new trolley will accept PSTA bus passes. PSTA GO Cards are also accepted.

Party reminder!

Hey, everyone!

I hope you can make it to our party in Dunedin this Saturday. Dee, Rose Garden boutique's owner, tells us she's preparing quesadillas, baked beans, cole slaw and some other treats for you. It's all free, of course!

Party takes place 1-5 p.m. in downtown Dunedin, 737 Broadway. In the cute courtyard, outside Rose Garden, right by the coffee shop and the chocolate shop! (Boutique's number is 727-734-5052)

For your entertainment, the very funny Pat Largo (you might remember him from his radio host days) will be making the rounds.

If you want some extra cash, the Old Gold Lady tells us she'll drop by for a few hours (1-4). So if you have any old, broken or otherwise unwanted gold, bring it by and she'll make you an offer.

We'll be collecting donations for Friends of Strays: they need pet items, plus clothing, etc., for their thrift store. Donations are welcomed, but not required.

Save the dates:
Oct. 25, Gulfport: Clothing swap with Complexions skin care
Nov. 15, Bradenton: Garden party at Backyard Retreat

-- Ester Venouziou

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coffee shop closed

Local Coffee + Tea in St. Pete has closed. You might have read our blog, a week or so ago, about how the owner was backing out, and the three 20-something staffers had pledged to take over and keep it going.

They had grand plans, bringing in artists and poems, making it a place to go for entertainment, for meeting new people, and of course, for having some great coffee and snacks.

They had a big party, "save our store" sort of thing. Another nearby indie coffee shop, Bohemian Cafe, even closed early that night and asked its customers to support Local Coffee + Tea.

They printed T-shirts, asked for contributions. We were there one day last week, and they asked for help coming up with a new name for the shop. The new owners were excited and looking forward to their new venture. They had stocked up on supplies.

Then two days later, we heard rumors the coffee shop had closed.

We went by. The rumors were true. The sign simply said that another great restaurant was coming soon.

In the St. Pete Times today, Waveney Ann Moore brings the rest of their story. The owners tell her they were just as surprised as we were, with the abrupt closing. "We didn't fail at what we were doing," they told her. "Somebody just pulled the rug from under us."

The new owners say the landlord got a better deal, someone who offered him more money. They had been paying him $500/week and were working on a formal lease. It didn't happen soon enough.

The landlord sticks by his decision: "We tried to have the kids run it, but nothing changed."

We don't know what really happened, of course. We don't know how long the week-by-week arrangement had been going on. But we think if "the kids" were paying, they should have been given some more time to bring in new business and re-energize the place.

A new Italian restaurant will open in its place. Galeano's Buono Vita will be "a very mom-and-pop thing," owner Allan Galeano says in the Times. Galeano is an experienced restaurateur, and we hope he does well here. We will dine there, of course; the smoked salmon ravioli mentioned in the Times article sounds quite tempting.

But right now, our thoughts are with Kyle DeStefano, 24, Nathalia Estrada, 25, and Ellen Augeer, 26. The three friends who were trying to keep their local coffee shop alive. We wish them the best. If they open another shop, we'll let you know.

Click here for the link to the Times article.

-- Ester Venouziou
Local Shopper