TBLB meet up at Parkesdale Farm Market

August 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Yesterday the Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers were hosted by one of our own, Xiomara, at her family’s business…the awesome Parkesdale Farm Market. My friend Kathy accompanied me on our short drive from St. Pete to Plant City.

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Parkesdale Farm Market is old Florida at it’s best…quaint, kitschy, and full of charm. Xiomara does all the social media for Parkesdale, including writing their informative blog which includes lots of great recipes and tips about produce and plants.

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During the months of January – April (strawberry season) people flock to Parkesdale from all across the United States (and around the world) just for a bowl of their famous strawberry shortcake. They have even been visited by several presidents.

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That’s Obama holding Xiomara’s daughter!

Xi welcomed our group with open arms and even set us all up with goody bags and a sampling of the delicious fresh fruit available at their market.

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“The Greenhouse” connected to the market is full of tropical plants and fun strawberry-themed décor. They have tons of picnic tables, and Xiomara said that during strawberry season every table is full.

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Xi told us about the history of Parkesdale Farm, which has been a family business for several generations. This is her husband’s grandfather in a strawberry bath…

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She said his house was filled with red carpets and strawberry stuff everywhere.

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She gave us a tour of the market…

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where they sell fresh fruits and vegetables (great prices!),

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all kinds of jams, jellies, preserves, and pickles…

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and Florida tchotchkes and Ego Girl Outfitter apparel.

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That’s the gorgeous Xiomara herself modeling an Ego Girl sun shirt.

Parkesdale is famous not only for their strawberry shortcake which is only served seasonally, but also for their strawberry milkshakes which are served year round. We all got to try one!

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It was so fresh and delicious. It was extremely hot and humid yesterday, as it is every day in August in Florida, and I think I drank the whole milkshake in about three minutes. It was amazing. It was actually featured by the Food Network as one of the Best Top Ten Desserts in America! You gotta try one.

Thank you so much for having us Xi! I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and can’t wait to go back with the family…during strawberry season so we can try the shortcake, of course.

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It was also great to see all my TBLB friends and meet a couple of new ones! Okay girls, where and when is the next meet up going to be? Can’t wait.

Yelp Elite event: So Long Summer at theAvenue

August 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

The boys and I have been enjoying the last week of summer vacation primarily by hanging out at home and cleaning house.

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All our summer fun, filled with camps and vacations and swimming, left the house in a shambles. Cal’s birthday is Friday and we are going to have a house full of boys for a sleepover, so excavating the floor and horizontal surfaces was a must. I am proud to say that after two days of concentrated effort, things are looking half-way presentable around here.

I have not been working out and I plan to write a post about changes in my life in that area, but I’m still processing my thoughts on the subject. Until I can work out what I want to do and say, I’m just going to stick with the fun stuff. Like last night.

Last night Chad and I left the boys with their favorite babysitter for a couple of hours and headed downtown to a Yelp Elite event…So Long Summer at theAvenue.

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I was excited to attend a Yelp Elite event in St. Pete…the first one on this side of the bay since I became a member of the Elite Squad a couple of months ago. theAvenue is on the 300 block of 1st Avenue South in downtown St. Pete, which has recently become a real foodie/hangout hot spot with Wood Fired Pizza and World of Beer being right next door.

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The whole restaurant was reserved just for us Yelpers for the evening. I felt very “elite” to be part of the private party (but tried not to be elitist).

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We were greeted at the entrance by the lovely Shanna and Monica…

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and checked off of the guest list and given our “Elite” name tags.

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When we arrived my friend Ali (newly a member of the Elite Squad…congrats Ali!) was already there and saving us seats at a table.

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theAvenue has an eclectic, “hangout”, type of atmosphere and everybody was mixing and mingling and sweating.

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There was live entertainment, and this guy was great!

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The restaurant is very open to the outside, which includes tables on the sidewalk out front and a large patio area out back. There were fans going in the bar area, but as far as I could tell, no air conditioning. It was pretty hot in there, but I was immediately served some “hunch punch” by one of the attentive servers, which was very refreshing.

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neat to be elite

We grabbed a plateful of nachos which were making the rounds of the bar area, and continued to greet other friends as they arrived.

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The Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers were well-represented at the event:

20120814-DSC_0010Rachel of Runners Tales, Jennifer of Mangiamo!, Diana of Sneakers 2 Sandals, and me. Katie of A Full Plate was also there, but unfortunately we snapped that picture before she arrived. It was great to see all of you last night!

As I continued to schmooze with all my blogger pals, Ali grabbed us a variety of chicken wings to try. Sorry this picture is kind of sad…

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but I had the barbecue wing and it was pretty good. The wait staff was awesome, and I never went without a refill on my hunch punch for more than a couple of minutes. I think it was after the second or third that Ali and I hit up the photo booth.

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It was about 85° inside the restaurant, 90° on the outside patio, and 110° in that photo booth. Excuse our shiny foreheads. At least you can’t see the sweat dripping down our backs.

There were many excursions out onto the back patio to chat with friends and to scope out the banquet trays for new arrivals of food.

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Of course Brett, our YelpTampaBay community manager, was all decked out in his “end of summer” attire.

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Finally the item we had been waiting for showed up in the hot plates…sliders. theAvenue is known for their burgers and fries.

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The ones we tried had bacon and cheese and I thought they were great. They had a delicious char-grilled flavor and the grilled rolls were a nice touch. The fries arrived about the same time, and Chad and I both agreed that they were amazing with their crunchiness and seasoning.

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Chad and I enjoyed sunset out on the sidewalk, with a view of the skyscraper that used to be “Barnett Tower” back in the day when I worked on the 18th floor.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our date night courtesy of Yelp Tampa Bay and theAvenue. Thanks for the good food, good company, and good entertainment!

20120814-DSC_0031The musician on the left, and the proprietor (manager or owner, I’m not sure) on the right. You guys were so nice!

We’ll definitely be back to theAvenue…maybe this fall when it finally cools off a bit. Can’t wait for the next Yelp event!

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you should be Yelping!