Grocery Shopping Gets Savvy in Tampa Bay

Eating at home is easy when you don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store.

It’s 6:30 in the morning. You’ve hit the snooze button no fewer than three times and you know you have to pull yourself out of your nice cozy cocoon of a bed and greet the day. Every bone in your body wants to crawl back under the covers but you slowly stand up. As you cruise to the kitchen you open the refrigerator door and stare. You get that sinking feeling… the rest of the house is going to wake up and you were too tired to stop at the store after work last night and now there’s literally nothing for breakfast. No milk. No eggs. No cream for the coffee. Yep, you knew you should have just rolled back over and pulled the blanket over your head.

If you can relate at all to the situation above… you’re in luck! Yes, you read that right. There’s help and it’s just a click away. A new app is coming to Tampa that will check the entire job of going to the grocery store off of your “to do” list. You’ll never have to worry about running out of milk, bread, eggs, or even cilantro. You pick what you want, someone goes to Publix for you and delivers your order to your door.

Groceries From App to Door

A Shipt employee will pick up the items on your list at Publix and deliver them to your door. Photo Courtesy: Shipt

The company is called Shipt and here’s how it works:

You shop through the company’s app – available for both iOS and Android. Then pay and schedule the delivery. Anything you buy from Publix is available for you to select. Deliveries can be made the same day. If you live in Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Brandon, Lutz, or Temple Terrace then you are in the service coverage area.

So, how do they make money? Well it’s pretty simple. The price you see on the app is the price you pay to have the food shopped for you and delivered to you. The company says customers can expect to pay about $5 more using Shipt than you would by going to the store yourself on a $35 order. They offer the example of a loaf of Wonderbread. At the store you would pay $2.29 and with Shipt the loaf would be 30 cents more, $2.59. Orders under $35 dollars will have a $7 delivery fee added to them. Anything over $35 bucks will not be charged an extra fee. There is also a $99 annual membership fee.  But use our link, and you’ll get $10 off!

Meals Delivered to your Door

At Blue Apron, you choose the meal and the ingredients are delivered to your door. This is one of many meals you can choose from. Photo Courtesy: Blue Apron

Shipt is not your only option for front-door grocery delivery service. Blue Apron offers a slightly different approach. They answer the “What’s for Dinner?” question for you. You’ll choose from a menu of recipes created by the culinary team at Blue Apron. They promise to never repeat the recipes over the next year. Each meal takes about 30 minutes to cook and is between 500-700 calories.

You can choose between meals for two people or family style meals for four. Two people can enjoy 3 meals per week with perfectly portioned ingredients for $60 dollars. A family of four can get four meals per week for just under $140 dollars. Some of the menu items include Chicken Tinga Tacos, Seared Salmon and Salsa Verde, or Thai Chicken Burgers.

Another company, Hello Fresh, offers a similar experience. You select an item from their menu. The ingredients are separated out and you receive a box with enough food for three meals for either 2 or 4 people depending on the option you select. Prices are about $10 dollars per person per meal for this program.

Organic Food Delivery

Eden’s Organics is a local company started by Eddie Fernandez in an effort to provide families with convenient home delivery of organic fruits and vegetables to your door. They promise all of their products are non GMO and certified organic. Eden’s Organics offers weekly, bi-weekly, and single orders. The prices are listed on the website and boxes are delivered within a 25 mile radius of the Tampa International Airport on Tuesdays.

Dog Friendly Restaurants, Beaches, Shopping & More in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

For many of us, our furry friends are members of the family. We lovingly refer to our Bichapoo as our first born son. Cooper is in all of the family photos, gets his own decorated dog biscuit on his birthday, and enjoys all organic food that must be refrigerated. You might be rolling your eyes. I’m sure I would have too prior to falling in love with my 9 pound cuddle bug but I know I’m not the only one out there who pampers my pet. In fact, the American Pet Products Association says Americans spent more than $58 billion dollars on pets in 2014 and estimate that number will exceed $60 billion dollars this year.  So, there’s a good chance you’re in the same boat or will be someday!

Whether you’re new to the area or you just haven’t seen all of the latest ways to pamper your pets, there are new establishments offering as many options as your favorite human spa. From happy hours to pet chiropractors, here are some of the ways you can ensure Fido and Fluffy are happy and healthy for years to come!

Downtown St. Pete Yappy Hours

An illustration of dogs and cats enjoying “Yappy Hour” at Pawsitively Posh Pooch and Classy Cats Too.

If you could use as much socialization as your pet – the Yappy Hour is for you! There are several across the county. Here are a few:

Yappy Hour at Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming in St. Petersburg – For details on the next Yappy Hour call the store at 727-822-WOOF.

Yappy Hour at Pawsitively Posh Pooch & Classy Cats Too in St. Petersburg is held every Thursday from 5-8pm. You can shop while enjoying a glass of wine, appetizers, and treats for your four-legged friend.

The Kitchen in downtown St. Petersburg welcomes dogs and their owners every Tuesday from 6-10.

Downtown St. Pete Dog Friendly Restaurants


A dog and its owners enjoy “Yappy Hour” at The Kitchen in downtown St. Petersburg. Photo Courtesy: The Kitchen

St. Petersburg is known for its pet friendly patios at many destinations along Beach Drive. It’s one of the thousands of reasons residents love living downtown and nearby.

Cassis American Brasserie is loved by our four-legged friends because the restaurant embraced the idea of dogs on their patio by creating a full menu just for them! Check it out here. Fido can enjoy the “Mutt” Loaf – 4 ounces of ground beef prepared just for them or perhaps he’d rather have Bark de Triumph – A tart shell filled with yummy vanilla ice cream. Those are just a few of the items on one of the most extensive dog menus out there.

400 Beach Seafood & Tap House welcomes dogs on their patio as long as they are on a leash and well behaved.

Bella Brava has a dog friendly patio and your pooch will be treated to a water bowl of his very own!

Parkshore Grill offers an area on the patio for dogs and their owners to relax and enjoy together.

These are just a few of the numerous restaurants in downtown St. Petersburg that welcome dogs and their owners. Remember, cleaning up after your pet and making sure they behave is always your responsibility. Do you know of a great dog friendly dining spot? Please post information and details in the comment section of this post!

Pet Friendly St. Petersburg Hotels

Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront welcomes pets under 75lb. Guests must pay an additional fee of $75 per stay.

The Hollander Hotel just completed renovations on a beautiful outdoor pool, bar, and patio. The boutique hotel in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg welcomes pets. Call the hotel at 727-873-7900 for details and restrictions.

Beach Drive Inn Bed and Breakfast welcomes pets according to Bring Fido. Call the Inn for more information and details including a one-time cleaning fee. The Inn was once the home of Stella and Aymer Vinoy Laughner – yes that is the man for whom the Vinoy is named for. The Vinoy, however, does not allow pets.

St. Pete Pet Spas & Shopping

One Lucky Dog, 5320 4th St NE, is a one stop shop for all of your grooming, shopping, and dog bakery needs.

Every pet deserves to be pampered and there is no shortage of places for them to enjoy a nice bath and haircut! This list is not comprehensive so please leave additional spots and information in the comments section.

One Lucky Dog offers tons of products for your dog. Grooming services range from $30-$80 dollars and there is an extensive menu to give customers the choice of what kind of spa day their beloved pup should enjoy. The groomers are featured on the store’s website which allows customers to get to know and choose who will take care of their furry friend.

Pawsitively Posh Pooch offers the Gucci Poochi Spa where customers can choose from three separate experiences for their dog. Prices vary according to breed and condition. The store also offers a boutique with hundreds of beautiful outfits, beds, biscuits and more.

Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming is conveniently located at 944 4th St. North and offers a full grooming salon for your dog. Along with an extensive bakery they also have quite the toy collection to make sure that your furry friend is never bored!

Bubbles & Bows Mobile Pet Spa will come to you! The mobile spa serves Pinellas county and will roll up to your home, bring your dog out to the truck where it will be fully groomed and return it to you. The convenience factor is definitely appealing if you have a busy schedule! Grooming prices range from $40-$125.

St. Petersburg is the perfect place for your furry friend!

St. Petersburg is known for being a pet-friendly city. The truth is, your dogs and cats will feel right at home here. With several St. Pete dog parks and pet friendly Pinellas County beaches along with the restaurants, spas, and hotels there is plenty to do. Now, if only we owners had just half as much energy as our pets!



5 Ways to Have Family Friendly Labor Day Fun in Tampa Bay

The last hurrah of summer is upon us. Even for those of us with the “ENDLESS SUMMER” Florida license plate, we have to admit that the long sunny days are getting shorter and with any luck the humidity will soon be a distant summer memory. Labor Day tends to be the final hurrah of the summer months. It’s the last of summer’s trio of holidays and signals the start of fall. Whatever Labor Day means to you… there are plenty of ways to commemorate it in the Bay area.  By the way – in case you are like me and had to look up when Labor Day 2015 is, it’s September 7th.  😉

1.  Gecko Fest

Hundreds of people come to Gulfport to celebrate GeckoFest.

This year marks the 15th annual Geckofest in Gulfport. The Gecko isn’t officially Gulfport’s mascot but it lends its name for the largest festival of the year that takes place every Labor Day weekend. This year, Geckofest will take over Beach Boulevard from 10 in the morning until 10 at night on Saturday, September 5th. It’s a family friendly extravaganza with jugglers, aerialists, acrobats, escape artists, and magicians. You’ll also find dozens of vendors offering everything from art to woodworking and plenty of live music on both of the event’s stages.

In an effort to promote local businesses, this year any vendor who is not selling food must offer items that are made locally or by hand. All income from the vendors stays in Gulfport or surrounding areas because the festival makes sure they are all small independent or locally-owned businesses. There will be plenty of food vendors as well as areas to purchase beer and wine.

Kiddos will enjoy the pirates and superheroes as well as a special zone just for them. This year there will be games and activities from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Art Village Courtyard.

Geckofest always has a theme and this year is no exception with GeckoGras! Everyone is invited to participate by dressing up or coming in costume. Perhaps you want to dress the kids up as geckos or dawn your favorite colorful GeckoGras getup. There will be a costume contest for kids and adults and prizes will be given to the winners. Everyone is invited to join the Mayor in a walking parade on Saturday afternoon.

Parking for the event is free. You can find directions and maps for GeckoFest by clicking here.

If you can’t wait for GeckoFest be sure to check out the GeckoBall. It’s held in the famous Gulfport Casino Ballroom on Saturday, August 29, 2015 from 6-11pm. Tickets are $35 each. The event includes live music, tapas and dancing. For more information including how to purchase tickets click here.

2.  Floating Sunday Sandbar Concert

Visitors of the sandbar enjoy a floating concert while mingling in the water.

For the 8th year in a row there will be a FREE floating concert on the sandbar located directly across the channel from 2189 Tanglewood Way NE 33702. This event relies on the weather and tides cooperating but promises to be a lot of fun in the sun!

Vic Sherman is scheduled to take the stage at noon on Sunday. He’ll bring a mix of New Orleans and Chicago vintage vocals to the floating concert. As the official show opener, you can expect vintage vocals and some great guitar slides.

Next up on this year’s line up is some Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Marshall Tucker and more. Those are some of the big names Ken Keller will cover as the crowd sings and dances along. Keller is known for giving fans a great time and even making sure they play along with air guitars!

The floating barge will continue to rock as Hal Hammer Jr and the Cross Creek Blues Band take the stage. They pride themselves in Southern Rock and good o’l Old Time Rock and Roll. The band features a guitarist, bass, keyboard, drums, and even a saxophone!

As the Florida sun rages on, so will the show! The GEARZ will entertain everyone on the sandbar with Pink Floyd, The Who, Beatles, and many more familiar songs to guarantee a great time. If you like a little country while you’re out on the water… this band is known for covering Dwight Yokum, Garth Brooks, and even Brad Paisley.

The scheduled 5 hour free concert will wrap up with a jam finale as all of the bands play together. Remember, the only way to access this concert is by boat, canoe, or kayak. It’s on a sandbar in the middle of the water between Riviera Bay and Tampa Bay. That said, make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water if you plan to take the family out. While it is a free concert, the bands do have a “Save the Free Concert” fund and donations are appreciated.

3.  Celebrate Oldsmar

A look at the festivities at Celebrate Oldsmar.

For some good old fashioned Labor Day fun head out to Oldsmar! R.E. Olds Park is the place to be on Friday, September 4th from 6-10 and Saturday, September 5th at the same time. The kids will enjoy carnival rides and games while the adults swing their hips to the live music.

The US Stones are scheduled to take the stage on Friday. They affectionately call themselves the “American Rolling Stones Tribute”. On Saturday, The Super Stars will take the stage covering everything from Jennifer Lopez to Sinatra and the Black Eyed Peas.

Beer and wine will be available each night. There will also be several vendors with food for purchase.

Visitors will enjoy a fabulous fireworks grand finale on Saturday night. The show begins after sunset.

Celebrate Oldsmar is located at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive West in Oldsmar.

4.  Concerts & Sports

Aaron Brown hits a home run while playing the Tampa Yankees at Bright House Field. Photo Courtesy: Clearwater Thrashers

There are plenty of concerts and sporting events taking place Labor Day weekend. Here are a few of the highlights:

September 5th:  Lady Antabellum / Hunter Hayes & Sam Hunt at Mid Florida Credit Union Amphitheater

September 5th: Tampa Yankees vs Lakeland 6:00 p.m. at George M Steinbrenner Field

September 5th: Clearwater Thrashers vs Dunedin 6:30 p.m at Bright House Field

September 5th: Tampa Bay Rowdies vs New York Cosmos 7:30 p.m. Al Lang Stadium

September 6th: Tampa Yankees vs Lakeland 1:00 p.m. at George M Steinbrenner Field

September 6th: Clearwater Thrashers vs Dunedin 1:00 p.m. at Bright House Field

5.  Tampa Home and Garden Show

Whether you are ready to make improvements to your home or you just enjoy dreaming about the latest possibilities the Tampa Home and Garden Show promises to have everything your heart desires. Meet builders and contractors and see the latest design trends for kitchen and baths. Does your backyard need a little TLC? The show will have plenty of displays to show you all kinds of options for your own backyard. Windows, pools, spas, security systems, garage doors, and even driveways will all be on display.

You can check out the Tampa Home and Garden Show all weekend long at the Tampa Convention Center. Hours are: Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-7, and Sunday 10-5. The event is free and open to the public.

However you decide to spend your Labor Day weekend be sure to stay safe and pack the sunscreen!

Tampa Premium Outlets Set to Open in October

An artist’s image of the new Tampa Premium Outlets. The mall is expected to open in October 2015.

WESLEY CHAPEL- Pasco County is beginning to look a lot like Key West. Tampa Premium Outlets are under construction with a design plan that the developer calls “relaxed and contemporary.” Dozens of stores are on-board for the new outdoor mall which spans more than 50 acres and offers nearly 450 thousand square feet of space for stores.

Tampa Premium Outlets is part of the Simon Property Group – the same group that runs the Ellenton Premium Outlets. The mall will have a similar layout to Ellenton.  Shoppers will walk outside from store to store. Walkways will be laced with palm trees and there will be several fountains and other water features to make guests feel comfortable as they peruse the shops.

A rendering of the water elements that will surround shoppers as they walk through Tampa Premium Outlets.

The Outlet mall is located at 2398 Grand Cypress Drive in Lutz. Currently, the nearest mall is The Shops at Wiregrass, located about three miles away from the Tampa Premium Outlets.

A look at the food court at the new Tampa Premium Outlets.

Dozens of stores have already signed on to open at the new mall. Saks Off 5th will anchor the mall and according to Pasco County building permits via Wesley Chapel Community’s website these are the stores that will open their doors at the new Tampa Premium Outlets:

  • Adidas
  • American Eagle Outfitter
  • Ann Taylor
  • Aasics
  • Banana Republic
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Calvin Klein
  • Carters
  • Christopher Banks
  • Clarks
  • Bostonian
  • Coach
  • Cole Haan
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • Comb
  • Converse
  • Disney Store
  • DKNY
  • Easy Spirit
  • Ecco Shoes
  • Express
  • Famous Footwear
  • Fossil
  • Fragrance Outlet
  • G.H. Bass & Company
  • Gap
  • Godiva Chocolates
  • Guess?
  • Gymboree
  • Hanes Brands
  • Haggar
  • Hartstrings
  • Helzberg Diamonds
  • Hurley
  • J. Crew
  • Janie and Jack
  • Jockey
  • Kay Jewelers
  • Levi’s
  • Lucky Brand Jeans
  • Luggage Factory
  • Michael Kors
  • Motherhood Maternity
  • Naturalizer
  • Nautica
  • New Balance
  • New York & Company
  • Nike
  • Nine West
  • OshKosh B’gosh
  • O’Neill
  • PacSun
  • Papaya
  • Perfumania Perfumes-4-U
  • Polo
  • Puma
  • Rack Room Shoes
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Reebok
  • Robert Wayne Footwear
  • Saks Off 5th
  • Samsonite
  • Seiko
  • Signature Perfume
  • Skechers
  • Sperry
  • Top-Sider
  • Sunglass Hut
  • Swarovski
  • Talbots
  • The Loft
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Tumi
  • Under Armour
  • Van Heusen
  • Vera Bradley
  • Wilson’s Leather

Food court offerings:

  • Auntie Anne’s
  • Asian Chao
  • Green Leafs Banana
  • Haagen Dazs
  • Johnny Rockets
  • South Philly Steak & Fries
  • Starbucks
  • Villa Italian Kitchen
A view of the entrance to the Tampa Premium Outlets.

Crews are hard at work trying to meet the October deadline. Jayson Hanes used drones to get a bird’s eye view of the construction. You can check out his video here. Tampa Premium Outlets is set to open October 29, 2015.

Step 2 When Buying A Home: Meeting a Lender and Getting Pre-Approved

Once again, I love Elizabeth Bank’s new mini-series – and here’s Step 2. Getting Pre-Approved with a Lender. We can help with that so you, too, can be a baller! I love Steve Stapleton with Van Dyk Mortgage. He’s done two of my own personal mortgages, and countless others for my clients. No – I don’t get any kickbacks if you use him – he’s just my go-to guy because I know he’ll treat you right and get the job done. You can reach Steve at (727) 224-3319 or by clicking here.