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A Real “Yarn” From The Suncoast Animal League

There’s some wonderful people who support the work of the Suncoast Animal League in a very crafty way - they hand-knit cat beds! But since they volunteer their time and spend their own money for those beautiful beds they could also use donations of yard. I’ve been on a nervous energy cleaning frenzy of late and found plenty to pass along. If you love to knit or crochet and have yarn you could also donate just drop it off at the Suncoast Animal League Thrift Shop at 1466 Alt. 19 N., Palm Harbor. Shop hours are Tues. - Fri. 11-6pm, Sat. 10-4 and  Sun. 12-4. 

The Thrift Shop is a great resource for pet lovers and an important way to raise funds for the Suncoast Animal League. So please take a look through your own supplies and drop by the store. You may be lucky enough to meet an adoptable pet enjoying some extra attention in the shop. 

You Can Go Home Again - But You Might Not Like The Architecture

I am still very fond of my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I grew up in the suburbs but love to visit the many areas near downtown where early groups settled, some over 200 years ago. Last year it was Little Italy, and this year mostly due to the marathon showings of “A Christmas Story” it was the Tremont area and the house that was built in 1898 that was the setting for just a few scenes. But thanks to author Jean Shepherd’s strong ties to Cleveland it will forever be known as the house where Ralphie almost put out his eye with that treasured BB gun.

It’s old Cleveland. Step into the backyard and you’re gazing directly down into the area where the steel mills fouled the air for so long and a good view of downtown. But despite the fact it’s been quite a while since I’ve called Ohio home, I still have a special place in my heart for the homes that are being renovated and preserved. Not an inexpensive venture and some lots that went up for sale have unfortunately not honored the history of the area. What is a completely contemporary, steel clad, rusted-look monstrosity doing there? It’s right next to a great restaurant called Fat Cats on West 10th Street that makes a tremendous Bahn Mi sandwich. It’s listed as eclectic New American bistro and well worth a stop. And their location is pure Tremont. Right next to the rusty house.

We followed up with coffee and dessert at another landmark transformed from a turn of the century drugstore into a great place to stop and get out of the Cleveland chill. Civilization Coffee is an historic delight on West 11th Street with the interior left intact for the most part. It was the Flandermyer Drug Building built in 1881 with a rich wood interior, plaster ceiling and some of the best desserts that are not budget busters. We won’t get into the calorie-busting part. Well worth a visit.

So yes, I’m a little prone to preservation which also triggered stops with my sister Tricia and brother-in-law Sal to the Rockefeller Park Botanical Gardens on East 88th Street on 270 acres donated to the City by John D. Rockefeller in 1905, with the gardens opening in 1905. One of those city landmarks meant to be visited, along with another stop at the Cleveland Museum of Art and their gift shop with plenty of day-after Christmas bargains. It was always a favorite of my Dad who we lost just a few days before Christmas some years ago.

I can go home again and plan to again soon. It’s absence that does make the heart grow founder for this Buckeye.

One Cool Cat


It’s a busy time at area shelters, so let’s bring you up to day on one of my favs, the Suncoast Animal League! Marketing Director Annette Dettloff has a cool cat at the shelter named Kobi.

From Annette - Don’t let his regal appearance fool you. This guy acts like he’s from the means streets. Yes, the truth of the matter is, Kobi is loaded with attitude. But don be intrigued! Kobi is a two-year-old cat we have had up for adoption since October 21, 2017. Nope, that’s not a typo. He’s been waiting for his furever home for more than a year. Why? Because Kobi suffers no fools and is ready to scrap at any moment. But our regal tough guy also has a soft side (PLEASE don’t tell him we said that...he’s got a rep to protect!). Kobi loves getting petted and adores attention from his human servants. But heads up! When you’ve stroked his fur one too many times...WHAP!!! Oh Kobi... We all love you and you make us all laugh constantly, but your catitude is causing us grief because we haven’t found your perfect owner yet and we just want you to be happy in a forever home. 


So how about it?? Do you LOOOOVE cats with heaping tons of catitude? Come meet Kobi at our shelter or email us for more info. He’s been neutered, microchipped and he’s up-to-date on vaccines. And if you like large cats, you’ll love Kobi. He’s in the 20 lbs range. Whoa! 

Thanks Annette! I know the perfect person is out there for Kobi, so please visit the shelter ASAP and give Kobi the greatest present ever - a home for Christmas! And please remember to stop in at the Thrift Shop for wonderful deals, and many days a chance to meet a furry person in need of a hug.

One Crazy And Very Wet Ann-Venture

Your choice – either I didn’t know enough to come out of the rain and/or just needed something to make me smile over the weekend. Did both! I was over at Disney Springs Saturday early evening for dinner at Maria & Enzo’s for delightful dinner complete with antipasto platter and the epitome of Italian comfort food with spaghetti and meatballs. Oh yes, make reservations! My coworker Ashely and I had an early dinner at 5 and when we left the line was out the door. But what made my night was a trip after dinner to the Grand Floridian and a chance to take in the grandeur of their Christmas decorations. That grand entrance and lobby will just take your breath away. Oh yes, the Gingerbread House is there, celebrating 20 spicy years! After that, back for a quick cannoli and latter and Maria and Enzo’s before hitting the road…. because Sunday, well, was a REAL Ann-Venture.

We had plans to check out the Orlando Farmer’s Market and pick up our order of artesian marshmallows from Sugar Rush Marshmallows. We had just hit the Winter Haven exit when the first tornado warning went off and we decided to turn around head south and way from the worst of the weather. Try Anna Maria Island! But we no sooner made it on to the island when the rains hit, and the flooding began. But a mad dash into Ginnie G and Jane E’s was the perfect place to dry out and have a wonderful brunch…and shop of course. When things lightened up we made a quick tour to pay homage to the City Pier which may begin construction something soon. Please!

But oh so glad we decided to head a little more to the south and Bradenton Beach. The historic BridgeWalk resort is so impressive, and it was nice enough to walk those few blocks, visit their pier and just breathe. It was a little on the crazy side this weekend but a soul-soothing necessity. And no, I’m not telling you what I bought. Too many of you will figure out what you’re getting for Christmas. But enjoy the pics!

There’s Nothing Cowardly About This Lion

Nicholas Pearson has an impressive resume, but bringing the heart and soul of a lion to the stage of Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall is an equally impressive task. Growing up watching “The Wizard of Oz” around the holidays every year was such a nice part of my childhood. Now Nicholas brings the Cowardly Lion to life this Sunday when “The Wizard of Oz” has two performances scheduled for 3 and 8 pm. Stepping into the paws of the the original Lion - Bert Lahr - is an actor’s dream and it was for Nicholas. I was happy to chat with him about his role of Zeke, aka The Cowardly Lion and how much fun he has with fans. 

Nicholas has also performed in Crazy for You (Moose). Regional credits include The Wizard of Oz (Lion), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (William Barfee), A Christmas Carol (Ghost of Christmas Present), Rocky Horror Show (Eddie), Spamalot (Mrs.Galahad/Sir Bedevere). For ticket information and upcoming show at Ruth Eckerd Hall just check here.

The Benlysta Blues

As I’m writing this it’s Black Friday. No, I’m not out there with the hordes of other bargain hunters. I’m not even shopping online. For me it’s a Benlysta Friday. What’s that? Well, it’s the first drug that was developed specifically to fight lupus. I’ve lived with lupus as you know for many years and gone through many different drugs to keep it under control. But when they stop working and you start running out of the usual options, there is this. It’s called immunotherapy; the definition of which is “the treatment of disease by activating or suppressing the immune system.” It’s being used for cancer patients as well, So, while it’s working to help suppress some of the symptoms of lupus it’s shutting down my immune system. Quite the tradeoff, isn’t it. The one side effect I can count on after being on Benlysta is the fatigue that hits me within 48 hours. It’s the shaky-leg kind that scared me when I had the first loading dose back in February. It’s not as bad now but when it hits I’ve learned to just let go, get my rest and be happy when it’s over in a day or so. There are many other side effects and just reading them is very sobering. But it’s my life – for now. Lupus in just one of the more than one hundred forms of arthritis which is why I lend my support to the work of the Arthritis Foundation. With every dollar we raise we are that much closer to a cure for one of those. And do we need to have a little fun while we do all that work, right? The Jingle Bell Run is coming up soon on Saturday, December 1st at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. It’s a day we celebrate our individual achievements. For some it’s just showing up. I’ve met so many incredible people that have motivated and inspired me and made me feel like I’m never alone even when I’m feeling my lowest. I’d like for you to meet some of them, like our adult honoree Jeremy David. It’s as easy as clicking right here for more information and just coming by that morning to say hello. I’d love to say hello to you and hear your story. We are never alone when we have each other and the work of the Arthritis Foundation. See you soon and please, when you need help and information visit the Foundation’s website.

This is a two-blogger; please check Ann Kelly’s Kitchen for more on my new nutritionist and how I’m changing my diet. It’s a big step in a new and successful direction.

Jingling All The Way

Oh how we love to run this time of year! We’re now less than one month away from the Arthritis Foundation’s Jungle Bell Run. I’ll be there Saturday, December 1st  at the Yankees Steinbrenner Field. We like to start things nice and early, so check in will start at 7:30 am, the walk kicks off at 9 am. Of course we have room for you! Just click here and we’ll take care of it.

We’ll have special guests Adult Honoree Jeremy David who began his battle with arthritis when he was just two years old. Jeremy came in to the Dove to share his story. By the way, we love to see you come in cheery holiday costumes so get those creative juices flowing!

For more on the day just click here and I’ll see you soon!

Dunedin Pipe Band Brings A Championship Title Home!


There’s one thing I know for sure. I will never be able to play the bagpipes. Oh, I tried the assistance of Dr. Pat Snair who wend to Glasgow with the City of Dunedin Pipe Band, returning home  after proudly earning both the World Champion title as well as Best Drum Corps at the  World Pipe Band Championships put on by the  Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association. That’s so impressive and so well deserved! Piping is in no way easy. Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean. It takes great lungs, and equally great memory and yes, the kilts don’t hurt. You’ll see the band at many events around Dunedin and Tampa Bay.  Dunedin itself has a proud history as sister city to  Stirling, Scotland and  Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada.


Keep up with the band and activities on their site and stop by one to see the World Champs! You may have seen them piping a welcome to the new Fenway Hotel in Dunedin; you can also join in the fun at the 2018 Dunedin Celtic Music & Craft Beer Festival. They are looking for more volunteers for the Nov. 17th event in Highlander Park, Dunedin.


There’s nothing like being part of such a heritage band with a history that goes back to 1964 when they were first formed. Be a fan of the Dunedin Pipe Band and thanks to Pat for stopping in for this Ann-Venture!

A Dog’s Life


Image may contain: 1 person, dog and textEvery time I look at the calendar I’m struck by how fast this year is going – but that also means we’re that much closed to Dogtoberfest with the Suncoast Animal League. It’s been another year with incredible rescue stories. Some broke our hearts, some made us really appreciate the dedication and hard work of the Suncoast Animal League that much more. Right now it’s finding foster homes from pets rescued after Hurricane Michael. If you would like to be a foster, please take a look here for more information.


Image may contain: dogBut the one that stands our the most for me is the story of Denali. The story received national attention for a horrific case of animal abuse. Denali was rescued from a house fire that investigators found was intentionally set. Denali suffered terrible burns but is doing well today that to the wonderful vets at BluePearl. There have a few setbacks but Denali is a fighter and is wagging her tail a lot more. And it’s because of your generosity that she’s making such amazing progress. There are many stories I could share with you but I’d like for you to hear them in person from the wonderful staff and volunteers that are the Suncoast Animal League. What better way to do that than to join me at the 11th Annual Dogtoberfest that’s coming up on Saturday, November 11th. It’s the day when people line up long for the adoption tent opens, when the “Running of the Wieners” takes place and rescue groups from all across Tampa Bay come together under the oaks in Highlander Park in Dunedin.


I’ll be there all day and look forward to seeing our alumni pets return to say hello, and see many more pets find their forever homes. It’s a great chance to learn more about being a volunteer, a foster family and learning how to help the Suncoast Animal League continue their good work. I ‘ll have everything you need to know here, and can’t wait to meet you and your family at Dogtoberfest.


Mersey Beatles Heading To Largo


Okay, I’ll admit this much – talking with Steven Howard of the Mersey Beatles with that Liverpool accent was just way too much fun. In the back of my mind I was flashing back to Paul McCartney at Amalie Arena and a whole lot of singing along. And I apologize to those of watching on Facebook live who had to endure that. But I digress. Take a step back to those cooler times when all you wanted was to meet “the cute one” or try on one of Sgt. Pepper’s costumes.  The Mersey Beatles, the only Liverpool born and based Beatles tribute band and the house band of the legendary Cavern Club for more than a decade will be in the house at the Largo Cultural Center this Friday, October 5th. So close your eyes and enjoy my talk with Steven, then log on to get your tickets for Friday’s show at 8 pm here. 

Denali’s Story



Denali’s story is not an easy one to hear or to actually see. It’s beyond my comprehension how someone could allegedly set two dogs on fire in a house and just leave them there. But that’s not how Denali’s story ends thanks to the Suncoast Animal League.


The first post I saw on social media from Executive Director Rick Chaboudy carried a warning on how graphic the pictures of Denali were and I hope to never see animal abuse like this again.  We all cried when we saw them and prayed that the wonderful folks like Dr. Lee at BluePearl Animal Speciality and Emergency Pet Hospital could someone ease her pain. And we prayed ever harder for her recovery. They tried every possible combination of pain meds, kept her comfortable and cheered her every little victory. The best news of all this week was two-fold; the arrest of Brandi Chisolm Corrigan. She has now been officially charged with Felony Cruelty to Animal charges. according to a release from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Take a moment to listen to my interview with Rick to hear all of Denali’s story. 


Image may contain: dog and indoorDenali’s recovery continues with all those little victories, like the first time she raised her head and gave the vet a little kiss. The first time she wagged her tail. And that first walk. But it’s a long road to recovery from such severe burns. I’d like to invite you to donate to her fund and give her back the life any animal deserves, not the pain she still lives with. The Suncoast Animal League has had and will have many more fund raisers to help Denali and other pets just look for their furever friends. I’m happy to be a small part of their work at the 11th Annual Dogtoberfest November 10th in Highlander Park, Dunedin. Pet lovers line up early for the Super Adopt-A-Thon, the Running of the Wieners always draws a big crowd, and there are so many rescue groups to talk with. It’s the one day where anything seems possible for so many little four-legged friends. I hope you can join us and please follow the Suncoast Animal League for updates on fund-raisers and Denali’s ongoing recovery. There are still good people in this world.



A 20 Year Ann-Venture With TSO


The numbers are impressive for Trans-Siberian Orchestra – 20 years, over 2,000 shows and more that $15 million dollars donated to charity. It’s always a pleasure to have TSO back for the holidays and to talk with original member Al Pitrelli. who handles double-duty as musical director and plays guitar. When TSO takes the stage on December 16th at Amalie Arena it will be for two shows; the first at 3 pm, the second at 7 pm. The group donates $1-$2 from every ticket sold for those two shows to charity.

This season TSO will head out on the road for 106 concerts in 65 cities presented by the Hallmark Channel. The Winter Tour will feature “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” rock opera as well as some new songs and familiar favorites like “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Good King Joy,” “Christmas Canon,” “Music Box Blues,” “Promises To Keep,” and “This Christmas Day” among others. And as an added treat a new 20th-anniversary edition of their 1998 album “The Christmas Attic,” will be available on CD and digitally Sept. 28, and vinyl on Nov. 23.  The new edition of the album features “Christmas Jam (Live),” a bonus track previously unreleased on CD and vinyl.

Let Al tell you the whole story, and follow TSO online.  We also have more information in the Dove Events Guide.

Irma Memories, Active Tropics

Like so many of you there’s one emotion I can’t shake from Hurricane Irma. Fear. From the time we first started watching the storm to the minute I walked out of the Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center it was always there. Would I have a home to come back to, would my friends be safe and what would it be like walking out the doors of the EOC when it was safe enough to leave.


I blogged live from the EOC starting at 10 am Saturday, September 9th at 10 with my final entry posted Monday, September 11th at 4 am. Later that day when we were given the all clear to leave the ride home was sobering. No power for the most part so no traffic lights, lots of debris and finally making that turn onto my street. Then it was trees down, limbs, branches and no power. One large live oak was actually blocking most of the street but enough had been trimmed to allow for traffic to pass. I felt like I was holding my breath the entire way down the block and wondering what was waiting for me at home.


There were a lot of limbs and branches down but my massive live oak was still standing and everything else looked intact. I exhaled, opened garage and stepped inside. I had spent a adrenalin-fueled day before leaving for the EOC moving everything away windows and into the center of the house. I stood and looked at all that, untouched and damage-free and I cried. There wasn’t time for that while working but now that the worst was over and I still had my house it was all too much. Eight days later when the power was back on, I cleaned out the fridge and freezer and oh that was nasty! But thanks to my coworker Simone’s hospitality I had a place to live for those days and pretty much drove back and forth from Tampa to Clearwater to try and put things back where they belonged, make sure the house was safe and talk with my neighbors who had all stayed in their homes and were safe.

Yes, we managed to miss a direct hit yet again but in the following days, weeks and months there was so much to do to try and bring normalcy back to our lives. We heard the stories of heroism, of loss and of people just doing the right thing. If go to the top of the WDUV home page and use the search feature, type in “Hurricane Irma” and you can read all those stories and remember how lucky we were for the most part. The 2018 hurricane season is kicking into high gear so please check those supplies now and make sure  you have a plan in place. We have plenty of great tips for you and along with our friends from Ten News will continue to keep you informed.

Let’s Go Robotic


This was a happy coincidence kind of Ann-Venture. I was headed down to Hyde Park for brunch Sunday and stopped in at the Publix on Gandy. When I was leaving I ran into a great bunch of students from Plant High School in South Tampa that are trying to raise enough money to get to special event for Team 7203 KNO3 – that’s what they call their team from Plant High School Robotics. They’re looking for company’s or individual donations (and yes, I put some cash in their donation box) to help them reach their goal. It all begins with the local competitions and moves on to state, regional and world competitions. It’s called “FIRST” which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” Students design and build their own robots which involves the actual design, programming the software, CAD design development and the application of real-world math and science concepts. And that’s just the start.

It’s pretty incredible to realize just how much work this all takes outside the regular school day – nights, weekends – and there’s the cost of $3,000-$4,000 to build and compete. The students raise their own funds so why not lend them a helping hand and make this Ann-Venture a reality?  You can contact Sue Brown directly and or send a donation to South Tampa Robotics Foundation, 3207 West Harbor View Avenue, Tampa, Fl 33611. There’s also more information on their website.

Good luck and may the best ‘bot win!

National Dog Day? It’s Everyday!

Suncoast Animal League Slideshow

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But if you want to get technical, it’s this Sunday. So in honor of International Dog Day, take a moment to check in with some of my favorites for their special weekend events.

Image may contain: dogAt the  Suncoast Animal League, it’s a clean sweep on Saturday with a Doggie Wash at Fairway Pizza and Sports Page Pub. Bring your dirty doggie over between 11 am and 2 pm with pricing according to your pet’s size. Great time also to ask about volunteer and foster opportunities. Looking for a new furever friend? How about Daisy? Meet Daisy. Terrier/lab mix Daisy has spent the past two months in one of their awesome foster homes. They have two medium-sized dogs that she gets along with really well. They also have a cat that doesn’t care for dogs so Daisy respectfully steers clear of her. Daisy’s foster family had the nicest things to say about her. “She’s very responsive to sit, down, and leave it. She loves to go on walks and snorts like a pig when she cuddles, which is the cutest thing. She’s learned a variety of good manners in her time here. She crates up on command, stays off of furniture until given permission, and loves steak leftovers. And her face kisses are the best.” Daisy is now ready for her forever home. She’s 2-years-old and weighs 49 lbs. She has been spayed, microchipped and is up-to-date with vaccines. Interested in meeting Daisy? Please email us at


From  the Humane Society of Pinellas comes a sweet little girl by the name of Petunia who dropped by earlier this week to say hello. She’s all of six pounds and is eight years old. She just loves to be petted and cuddled and needs a loving family to call her own. She’s quiet at first but would love to leave the shelter and be with her new family soon,.Please check with Pinellas County Animal Services for more on this darling little lap dog.


If you’re group has something special on the way this weekend tell me all about it


Remember… A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself. – Josh Billings

It’s Simply Wonderful!

Suncoast Animal League Slideshow

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When I bought my house some years ago I knew it needed updates. Like that guest bathroom stuck in the 70’s with an avocado green bathtub and sink, fixtures that were just plain sad and don’t even get me started on the curling linoleum and fluorescent lighting. Ugly and in need of a more than serious update – it needed a full remodel. Enter the wonderful Larissa Hicks from S & W Kitchens and a crew that brought new life to an old bathroom. It’s the best room in the house now. What made me choose S & W? I love that they are a family owned and operated business that’s been a part of our lives for over forty years. Now that’s a commitment to our community.

A full remodel is a big deal and that’s why you really need to choose your company carefully. It’s nothing I’d ever even think of trying to take on myself. Larissa walked me through every minute of what to expect from the initial consultation to the final walk through. I have to say I felt like a real kid in a candy store in the showroom. Everything looked so pretty – but in the end Larissa and I knew what would work for my house and taste. Their attention to detail and making sure I was happy every step of the way was so impressive. If you’ve ever had to track down a wayward contractor, deal with a less than cooperative permit inspector or any one of the million little things that can make you wonder why you ever decided to do a simple upgrade of full remodel, that’s something you will never have to worry about with S & W Kitchens. That’s their job – and to make you a very happy customer like they’ve done for me. Did I also mention how careful they were to clean up every day? Yes, it’s something like that which makes a difference and sets S & W apart.  You can see the article from S & W online now on the remodel and I’ll show you my pics from start to finish below. Remember the very beginning?

I  have a long list of people to thank, all those workers who were there day in and day out making sure everything was perfect. You all are welcome back into my home anytime – so let’s start thinking about a new project soon! Additional grateful thanks to Rickie Agapito at AOFOTOS.COM for those final fantastic photos. If you’d like your kitchen or bathroom to look simply wonderful again, please visit friends at S & W Kitchens right now in their showrooms in Palm Harbor or South Tampa, and of course online so we can give you that free design consultation log on to S & W Kitchens. 

*   Designer: Larissa Hicks

*   Design Assistant: Yina Brown

*   Supervisor: Eric Rodeback

*   Demo, Framing: Color Time Trim – Paul Romero (Owner)

*   Electrical: On Time Electric – Rick Super (Owner)

*   Plumbing: S&W Kitchens Brain Morton

*   HVAC: ACHS Mark Pugliano (Owner)

*   Drywall/Painting: Maitland Investment Ent. Lindley White (Owner)

*   Backsplash/Tile: European Quality Tile. Andrey Melnichuk (Owner)

*   Clean UP: RCS Commercial Cleaning. Rene Simms (Owner)

And finally for all of you who have asked me when you can see the finished project let’s get right to that!


Click to view slideshow.

Here They Grow!


My friends at the Suncoast Animal League have been enjoying great success with the Suncoast Animal League Thrift Shop on Alternate 19 in Palm Harbor, just around the corner from the shelter. That means they could use a little help  from their friends in the form of volunteers at the shop. It’s a fantastic place to find bargains, cute handmade items for your pets and if you’re very lucky the place to meet one of the shelter pets getting socialized. Yes, that means you get to cuddle and pet them! Just click on that link for all you need to know. And while I’m at it remember we’re not all that far away from Dogtoberfest. Just one of the best days you’ll ever spend under the oaks in Highlander Park in Dunedin. We average over 100 adoptions, marvel at the annual “Running of the Weiner” and enjoy meeting Suncoast alum. It’s the absolute best! But you don’t have to wait until then to find a “furever” friend – take a look at who’s up for adoption right now!


But before you do that – just look at who had a great day at the Madeira Beach Fire Department – two of our favorites, Ruby and Clover!







Click to view slideshow.


Lazy Sunday Mornings

What is a warm, sunny Sunday morning meant for? A quiet walk among on the boardwalk of Brooker Creek Preserve where the loudest noise might be the croak of a frog, the cry of a hawk and if you’re lucky the grunt of a gator. But this Sunday morning was literally all about the trees reflecting on the water and sun spilling through those trees. It’s one of my favorite ways to start my day and always makes for a peaceful Ann-Venture. Enjoy.

And by the way if there’s somewhere you’d like to suggest I take a Sunday morning Ann-Venture just let me know


Click to view slideshow.

A Book For The Birds


For all the Ann-Ventures I’ve been on I still need to work on my bird identifying skills. I love being outdoors but I’d love it even more if I knew the names of all the beautiful fine feathered friends I’ve taking pictures of. But once again National Geographic for Kids has come up with a book that I’m keeping a copy of in my car – Bird Guide of North American from Jonathan Alderfer. He’s the expert having spent ten years as National Geographic’s resident birding expert at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., along with writing. editing and illustrating more than twenty books for the National Geographic Society. Those include the best-selling Field Guide to the Birds of North America (7th edition), Birding Essentials, Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America, and Complete Birds of North America. Most recently, he authored the second edition of National Geographic’s Kids Bird Guide of North America.

This is the perfect book to take along when you go for that walk or hike with the kids. Jonathan tells us exactly what we’ll need to have handy like binoculars, maybe a field book to keep track of what you’ve seen and where to find your favorites. He even includes some ideas for making a bird bath and bird feeder, nice crafty activities in case it’s too rainy to hit the trails. Hear my interview with Jonathan and let the kids listen in and they’ll be just as excited as you will to do a little birding in Florida!

On Island Time



Residents of Anna Maria Island take a great deal of pride in their island home and rightly so. The iconic City Pier, beautiful views and the many shops and restaurants make for a wonderful way of life. But Hurricane Irma was anything but kind to the Pier and it’s now almost completely dismantled. Last Sunday I decided to see the sunrise myself and took the early morning trip across the Sunshine Skyway. While standing in front of what was left of the Pier I met a local man by the name of Brent Van Winkle. I had to smile when I realized I knew he was an islander right away – it wasn’t a go-cup from any coffee shop in his hand. It was his own mug filled with green tea. We had a great talk about the island, plans for the future and why he loves living on Anna Maria. Brent said the Pier is supposed to be rebuilt by the end of 2019, but the The City Pier restaurant won’t be built and open for business for some time after that. How ironic that one of that last remaining parts of the entrance to the Pier is the menu, still in the case and just waiting for another day sometime down the road.


I did wonder about those memory boards that were such an important part of the walk out onto the Pier. Those have been returned to the families of those honored and for those the city wasn’t able to track down, they’re being held in the hopes of one day putting them in their hands. That’s respect. The sea turtles haven’t abandoned Anna Maria Island either. The nests are protected and watched over, and some eggs have started to hatch.


Anna Maria Island has long been a favorite place of mine to run away from the world and just relax and forget about whatever is stressing me out. It will stay that way and I look forward to more meals at Ginny and Jane E’s on Gulf Drive, walks on the beach and sometime back out on The City Pier. It will be back as will I. Thanks for a nice chat Brent, see you again soon.




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