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The Good Stuff 8 - 11 13

Good News

Good Products

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Good People

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Good Eating


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Features 14 Celebrating Earth Day by Lisa Custer

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Made by Hand local Women in Business by Pamela Settle

29 Excercises Teens Secretly Love and Do by Pete Cosentino

31 Calling all Brown Thumbs by Melissa Kanaris

34 Providing What Your Child Needs Most Will Ease Your Mind by Deborah McNelis, MS Ed

35 Why Kids Love Video Games by Scott Rigby, PhD

Nancy Bostock... “Mompolitical”


by Pamela Settle About the Cover Teacher Keri Webster with students from James Sanderlin IB World School in their new garden. Story on page 16. Photography by Brandi Morris.

My Story: Sharon Hall



SPRING 2012 Publisher Light Shine Media Group, LLC

GoodLiving salutes moms and wishes them all a beautiful and blessed Mother’s Day!

Editor-in-Chief Pamela Settle

Contributing Writers Pete Cosentino Lisa Custer Sharon Hall Lisa Kanaris Deborah McNelis, MS Ed Scott Rigby, PhD

Design and Layout Marcie Frieling

Account Managers Audra Dorsey Tory Perfetti Reall Whiteman

Data Manager Tom Eckert

Website WP by Design

GoodLiving™ Magazine & P.O. Box 1795 Oldsmar, Florida 34677 (727) 776-3656

FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION GoodLiving™ magazine is a publication of Light Shine Media Group, LLC and and is available to readers by a paid annual subscription available at Promotional copies are distributed through establishments as a courtesy to their customers and clients. Additional copies are donated to local schools as a community service. To request copies, contact All photographs, artwork, design and editorial are the sole property of GoodLiving™ magazine and Light Shine Media Group, LLC. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written permission. GoodLiving™ magazine and Light Shine Media Group, LLC are not responsible for statements made by advertisers and writers for any consequences arising from omissions or errors. Readers should verify the advertising information of the advertisers and all specials are valid to the expiration date set by the advertiser. GoodLiving™ magazine and Light Shine Media Group, LLC reserve the right to refuse any advertising for any reason. The views expressed in the publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Happy Spring! ‘Tis the season for spring gardens, celebrating the Earth and telling mom how we much her. In Florida it’s also the time of year we head outside to enjoy the mild weather we love so much. That good weather is the reason this season is full of fundraising walks, golf tournaments, outdoor festivals and sporting events. Every weekend is packed with events for locals. Take the opportunity to renew your commitment to family fitness and get out and walk for a good cause. Join one of the two MS Walks in the area happening March 24 and 31. GoodLiving is a media sponsor of the MS Walks in honor of my mother Darlene who has MS. I want to personally thank all the sponsors and walkers who are giving their time and money to fight this autoimmune disease. It is a major defining factor of who we are as a family. My dad is her devoted full-time caregiver. My brother and I are constantly on alert to make sure they have everything they need. Our children know a grandmother who is in a wheelchair and debilitated and they learn compassion and what it means to love someone no matter what. This disease eats away at the neurological system and there is no cure. But there is love and there is hope. The families love their loved ones. And the sponsors and walkers keep the hope alive. The hope that someday there will be treatments and a cure. The City of Largo recently held its first Play Unplugged event to encourage kids to turn off their video games and play outdoors. It was a huge hit. Activities for kids filled the park as the city and other supporters joined together for a day of old fashioned play with hula hoops, balls, kites, climbing, crafts and an opportunity to build with boxes and sticks. Music filled the air and dancers of all ages were moving their bodies in the fresh breeze and sunshine. The atmosphere was noticeably happy and content. Families playing in the park… together. Not separate families in a busy park. This party had a name and a timeframe, so people were prompted to be there together. No fancy technology. No expensive tickets. The recipe for the day was good old-fashioned free fun. And even though the event was designed for children, there were a lot moms and dads having a genuinely good time too. As I looked around the main thought in my head was, “We need to do this for families at least once a month.” We need more play dates in the parks for families to be active and outdoors in community with other families. In agreement was emcee and chief advocate for the day, pediatrician Dr. Greg Savel, who was already planning meetings to discuss that very idea. Congratulations City of Largo and to all the participants for a great day! I wish readers a Happy Spring full of charity, love, fresh produce and as much outdoor play as you can handle. We live in an area abundant with activities and outdoor beauty to serve as the backdrop. Don’t be too busy to enjoy it. Until next time, be good!

Pamela Settle

news Sustainable Businesses Recognized

Agreements Expand Access to Recreation

The Sustainable Business Coalition, part of Earth Charter US (ECUS), held its annual awards ceremony at the University of Tampa in February. They recognized 12 Tampa Bay area businesses for outstanding sustainable business practices.

Recently two different inter-local agreements have opened the way for families in certain cities to have expanded access to recreation programs for less money.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn with Gary Smiles and David Smiles of Coastal Wipers Photo courtesy of ECUS

ECUS Founder Janet Roberts commented about the field of companies, “It is a real eye-opener to what the Tampa area has to offer.” Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman were present to help congratulate to the following 2012 award winners:

Residents in Largo and Pinellas Park can now use the resources of either recreation department for the same fees. For instance, a person in Pinellas Park will pay the same $10 for an annual membership that Largo citizens pay in Largo. They will then get the member rate for individual programs and classes. This is reciprocal. The same applies for residents in Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs. Residents of these cities can now move between the four recreation departments, paying the resident rates. There are some restrictions like camps, where the discounts will not apply. But all in all, this is excellent opportunity for families to do more for less money.

The 2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year

Large Business Category IBM Noble Juice a subsidiary of Wm. G. Roe & Sons

Medium Business Category Refurbished Office Furniture Pizza Fusion Skypoint Pizza Fusion Westchase Tindale-Oliver & Associates Coastal Wipers Darren Peña Salon and Spa Douglass Screen Printers Going Green Tampa Scheda Ecological Associates

Sustainability Innovator Gramatica SIPS International For more information about the ECUS Sustainable Business Awards, visit

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The other finalists were Sarah Painter, Eisenhower Elementary; Chad Guess, Seminole Middle; Kathryn Rennie, Tomlinson Adult Learning Center; Christina Vaughan, Nina Harris ESE Center; and Holly Del Duca, Sandy Lane Elementary. pictured left Stephanie Whitaker poses with the Outstanding Educator of the Year trophy below The Finalists photo: The six finalists for Outstanding Educator of the Year

Small Business Category


The Pinellas Education Foundation recognized Stephanie Whitaker, a fifth-grade, English for Speakers of Other languages (ESOL) Inclusion teacher at Dunedin Elementary as the 2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year. Whitaker is recognized for her creative teaching approach, commitment to student and families, and dedication to inspiring her students


news Career Education Breakfast The Pinellas Education Foundation is holding their annual Career Education Breakfast on April 12 to bring together local businesses, community leaders and educators for the latest news and information on Pinellas County School’s technical and career education programs and their economic impact on our community. Keynote speakers will be Bill and Martin Gramatica, former NFL football players and founders of Gramatica SIPS International. Tickets are $25. Make reservations at

Relay for Life The American Cancer Society is ready for sleepless nights as the season of Relay for Life approaches. If you’ve never participated in or attended one of these local events, get involved this year to honor the life of someone you know who has battled cancer. Each local event has its own personality, but they are all filled with camaraderie and caring as teams walk continuously through the night in a relay fashion. Below is a partial list of the dozens of local events. Connect with one near you at April 13

Palm Harbor University High School; East Lake High School

April 14

Treasure Island Beach; Gulfport Recreation Center

Host Families Needed for Short Term Exchange Students! EF’s Educational Homestay Program is bringing international exchange students from France, Germany, and Spain to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area this summer to study English and experience the American way of life. Students, ages 13-18, will be here from July 11 - August 6, 2012. The students spend the week days with EF staff and nights and weekends with their American families. If the host family has their own teenagers, they can earn up to 60 community service hours. For more information, call or email Michelle Langlois at (727) 224-1027 or

Cook Off Calling all young chefs to compete with your healthy recipes! Join All Children’s Fit 4 AllKids, Kohl’s and Radio Disney on Saturday, March 31st at the Lealman Fire Station for a fun and tasty afternoon. Chefs ages 7 to 12 need to submit their favorite healthy recipe for the family cook-off activity. Judges are looking for nutritious, creative and great tasting recipes. Prizes will go to the top recipes. Details and registration information at

April 20

Countryside High School; Northeast High School

April 21

Largo Central Park

May 4

Dunedin Stadium; Tarpon Springs High School; Coachman Park

March Madness Mission Time 4:13 is holding a March Madness Men’s Shoe Drive during the month of March. They are collecting new men’s razors and new and gently-used men’s shoes to donate to Metropolitan Ministries. Several drop-off locations are available, or create your own drive at work, school or church. Men are often times overlooked so take advantage of this opportunity to help a man get back on his feet. Find more at their Mission Time 4:13 Facebook page or call (727) 251-7114 to help.

Gluten Free Expo Attend a Gluten-Free expo on March 24 from 11 am to 4 pm at the St. Pete Coliseum, 535 4th Avenue N. Hosted by the Gluten-Free in Florida Support Group. Speakers on living with gluten sensitivities, reading nutritional labels, wellness and cooking gluten free. Activities for teens and kids, too. Vendor tables and samples from Gluten-Free Yummies.

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news No More Orphans Tami Kent is a Woman of Action who wants to see No More Orphans. Her newly-formed organization is called No More and they are holding a community event. The public is invited to come discover what it looks like to care for the orphans in our city and around the world. Connect with people and organizations that are making a tangible difference. There are an estimated 143 Million orphans in the world today and every number has a face... a name... a story. Become part of someone’s story. NO MORE ORPHANS is Saturday, April 14 from 6 – 9 pm at the Tampa Covenant Church. All ages are welcome. For more information and to RSVP, please visit

YCMA Healthy Kids Day Several YMCA’s in the area will celebrate a Healthy Kids Day in April. The Palm Harbor event is April 28 from 10 am to 2 pm. Bring the whole family for fun activities, great takeaways, nutritious snacks, and interactive play for children and parents. Free to all and open to the community. Other locations with events are Bardmoor, Clearwater, Greater Ridgecrest, High Point and James P. Gills Family YMCA. Visit and for dates and details.

Walk to the Moon Phil Phest The 6th Annual Phil Phest returns to the beautiful waterfront at R.E. Olds Park in Oldsmar. Gates open at 11 am with free skin screening until 6 pm. The public is invited to come out and take advantage of this service because organizers want to eradicate melanoma through early detection. Live music all day, a water ski show at noon, food vendors and ice cold refreshments. Volunteers needed. Contact Matt Sibley at Coordinated by the Phillip A. Bryant Melanoma Foundation in memory of a beloved son who died from melanoma. More info at In Memory of Phillip Bryant

Lace up the shoes and grab your coworkers to start walking the 238,587 miles to the moon. As part of a national initiative called The Race to a Healthy America, The Tampa Bay Partnership is launching Walk to the Moon to get people walking for better health. We all know that anything is more fun when we share it with friends, so this effort is about teamwork and walking together to meet team goals based on the size of the organization. Together all the teams in Tampa Bay need enough miles to make the moon landing. The seven-week challenge blasts off on April 4 and splashes down on May 23. People are challenged to walk for only 30 minutes a day, 5 times per week to meet their team goals and earn prizes. Teams can be from companies, nonprofits, schools and government offices in the metro area. Team leaders can sign up at

Do you know a mom who needs some relaxation and pampering? Nominate her to win a Mother's Day Spa Package from GoodLiving magazine! The lucky winner will receive luxurious and rejuvinating treatments from Heather's Day Spa to treat her like the special woman she is. The package includes: • an upper body massage • heated hand & foot treatment • European facial • customized glycolic peel • diamond infused Microdermabrasion • and a customized makeup lesson with a take-home instructional guide To nominate a mom, go to and fill out a contact form. In the comments section, tell us in 200 words or less why your nominee deserves this package. The person with the winning entry will receive a certificate in the mail to present as a gift on Mother's Day. Deadline to enter is April 30, 2012.


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products 4 3


2 7 5 8

6 1 Ecollargy collars and leads for dogs Dogs can celebrate Earth Day, too, by wearing collars made from retired advertising billboards and recycled bicycle inner tubes. Bright colors and patterns. No two alike. Available in medium, large and a 5-foot lead; $16, $18, $19.99 suggested retail, respectively. The leash features a handle sleeved with reclaimed bicycle inner tubes for a nice all-weather grip. Now that’s a good idea!

5 Baby Beluga This new line of 100% organic Egyptian cotton clothing for babies is more than adorable. It is earth friendly and cuddly soft for baby. Made by Under the Nile. Locally, you can find it exclusively at the Thank You Mama boutique in downtown St. Petersburg.

6 Eco-Craft Kit 2 GeoPalz Springtime is a perfect time to get the whole family walking. Get the kids their own GeoPalz 3-D pedometer that registers their steps on a daily basis and tracks them for activity-based prizes as incentive to be active. (Inventors were tired of seeing kids glued to TV and computer screens.) They attach to shoe, wrist or hip and come in a variety of designs to fit different personalities. Each unit comes with a code that gets registered at Pedometer units are $25 and registration to the site is free.

3 Eco-Chic wearable art Make a statement with this line of eco-chic wearable art in the form of bracelets, earrings and pendants that are handcrafted in America from repurposed, post-consumer soda can tabs. Not only beautiful to look at, but the tabs are purchased from local non-profit groups and packaging is made from 100% recycled stock. The price range is $24-$28.

4 Shabby Apple Looking for an Easter dress? This online store has huge selection of adult dresses to fit nearly any taste and budget. They offer other women’s clothing, swimwear and fitness wear that you won’t see in stores. Check out their girl’s clothing, too. It’s all beautiful.

Kids love crafts and this kit lets them make 20 earth-friendly crafts using recycled stickers, papers and pencils. Layer and stick to make animals, puppets and jewelry. It includes 428 stickers and shapes, 6 recycled colored pencils, craft sticks, wooden spoons, a fork and spatula, wooden buttons, spools and beads, string, ribbon, a glue stick, tissue papers and easy instructions. Makes a thoughtful birthday gift! Find it at for around $20.

7 Frozen Planet Just in time for Earth Day, the newest release in the spectacular Planet Earth series will take you on the ultimate adventure to the North Pole and the South Pole. See them like never before. Available April 17 on DVD ($39.98) and Blu-ray ($54.98) in stores and online.

8 Walking Shoes for Mom Moms do a lot of walking and their feet take a pounding. This line of shoes from the renowned Dr. Andrew Weil improves balance and posture, while reducing pain that comes from misalignment. The line has walking shoes with embedded orthotics that offer superior support and comfort. The sandals however are great for thong-wearing Florida women because the aided motion system orthotic technology gives needed support for everyday walking. A great way to thank mom for all she does. Weil Integrative Footwear can be found at online retailers and locally at Dillard’s. Prices vary.


founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 as a grassroots movement to bring awareness to our country’s environmental issues. The official Earth Day is April 22 but events are generally held throughout April in support of our environment and encouraging a more sustainable lifestyle.


Five Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Everyday: by LISA CUSTER of Going Green Tampa

1. Conserve water with a rain barrel. From easy DIY barrels to the more decorative and elaborate systems, you can be harvesting rain water in no time. A screen at the top of the barrel keeps out leaves and mosquitoes, leaving you with water that can be used on your garden or to wash your car, boat or even your dog! Connect several barrels to have a plentiful supply of free rain water.

2. Recycle your unwanted items. If you have curbside pickup, take advantage and send your recyclables onto another life instead of our landfills. If you don’t have curbside, find out where your local recycling center is. You could even join in with neighbors or co-workers to organize a local collection area. Clothing and other useable goods can be donated to thrift stores or listed on sites like Craigslist. By prolonging the life of these products we are able to slow down the production of new items, which are generally made outside of the U.S. This, in-turn, reduces our dependence on foreign goods. 3. Grow your own food. Whether you can turn your yard into a food forest or just have a container of herbs growing on your porch, you are taking a step at reducing your food costs and getting a healthier product. Why not save yourself some time and money by being able to step outside and get your own ingredients? 4. Unplug and get outside! By unplugging electronics and other items that don’t need to be left on, you will see a small decrease in your electric bill. By getting outside and enjoying the beauty that is Florida, you will see a big increase in your health and happiness! 5. Think before you buy. Lots of times we buy on convenience and don’t give much thought to where or how an item was made. Support local businesses and frequent markets where items are hand made. By supporting local you are helping to build a stronger local economy.


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to the City of Oldsmar for implementing their new single stream recycling that makes it easier for residents to recycle by giving them wheeled trash bins for papers, plastics, cans and cardboard.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY April 14 and 15 Island Earth Days at Honeymoon Island Two days of entertainment, activities and environmentally-inclined vendors. Food, crafts for kids, nature walks and a rock wall. $8 a car and leashed pets are welcome. April 21 Largo-ing Green Expo and Trashy Fashion Show Largo Cultural Center is site of a green expo from 12 to 5:30 pm. Followed by the perennially popular fashion show featuring wearable fashions made from items recycled from trash. Open to adults, youth and groups. Entry deadline is March 21. April 28 and 29 The 26th Annual Green Thumb Festival at the Walter Fuller Community Center in St. Petersburg. Celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day with free and discounted plants, programs for children and environmental exhibits.

people “Many students don’t know where food comes from,” said Peggy Johns, Supervisor for Pre-K – 12 Health Education for Pinellas County Schools. “The gardens engage their understanding about food and the health benefits of produce. The students develop a vested interest in trying foods to see what they taste like.” All grades at Sanderlin will eventually use the garden as part of science, math and history curriculums. “This garden ties into our school’s interdisciplinary approach and it reinforces the education about taking care of the earth,” said Keri Webster, a teacher and coordinator of the garden club at the school. “Building the garden was an enormous undertaking and it was done in two weekends,” she adds. Experts and volunteers were led by Peace Patch founder and Eckerd College Professor Kip Curtis. They used the hugelkultur design for a raised bed garden which involved digging deep trenches and filling them with tree logs, fish remains and mulch for nourishment and water retention. Volunteers came from Eckerd College, Peace Patch, Bank of America, the Jaycees, the St. Pete Chamber and parents and teachers from the school. Mentoring also became a part of the process as elementary students were able to work alongside college students to learn about the science of growing food. “Overall they came with a great sense of purpose. They were organized and the process was well thought out.”

Edible Peace Patch Project Plants Garden at

James Sanderlin IB World School When you think about agriculture in Florida, what pops into mind? Citrus trees and sprawling rows of produce in the rural countryside? The urban landscape of Pinellas County probably doesn’t come to mind, especially the dense city of St. Petersburg where you can find pockets that don’t even have a grocery store with fresh produce. Those areas are referred to as “produce deserts.” Enter Urban Agriculture and a growing group of good people who are committed to increasing the amount of fresh produce that is grown and consumed in St. Pete. The Edible Peace Patch Project is a non-profit organization with a goal of developing sustainable urban agriculture, healthy food systems and economic opportunity on the south side of St. Petersburg. One of their many projects is to build school yard gardens. Their first garden installed in 2009 is at Lakewood Elementary. The second garden was installed in January 2012 at Sanderlin IB World School.

The planting is in process now using plants grown from seed in the classrooms. Children are coming out to the garden to fill in the outline of the raised beds which resemble the shape of a water molecule. The school is planning its first Harvest Celebration for friends and volunteers in May. Next year they hope to have two harvests that will yield food they can share with others. Over the next several years, Peace Patch has plans for more school yard gardens in St. Petersburg as well as a comprehensive farm to cafeteria food system. Urban agriculture has more than an educational benefit; it has a commercial one as well because it can generate jobs and income. “St. Pete has a long history of urban agriculture. The chamber has had an Urban Agriculture committee dating back to the 1940s,” said Chris Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. Today they meet every Friday and Steinocher says they have experts around the table who have experiences from around the world. Those experts helped with the Sanderlin garden and they have also started 10,000 Greens, an effort to get collard plants to community groups like Creative Clay and Faith House for planting where they can help to feed people. “There’s a great energy about what is happening.”


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For more information and to get involved, go to or contact the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.

people Wendi Braswell & FTGI

Three women from Trinity who have a passion for helping women reach their potential came together and started an organization called For The Girls International (FTGI). Their vision is to ignite a movement of everyday women committed to using whatever God-given gifts they have to bring hope and healing to a hurting world. Tracey Metzger, Cynda Harris and Tracy Weber organize an annual conference, quarterly gatherings and an annual little girl’s conference for girls ages 5 to 10. In 2012, FTGI launched its first ShineGIRL mentorship program for girls ages 12 to 17. They called on local style and beauty expert Wendi Braswell to lead this course. Wendi draws on her experience as a personal style consultant, working with grown women and mother/daughter teams to help them find a personal style that accentuates their inner beauty and their individuality. She is no stranger to the battle that some moms face with their teenage girls. “Rather than continue to butt heads, moms can call on me to do closet makeovers, makeup makeovers and style consulting. I strategically work with both mom and daughter in a very positive and loving spirit. I get them on the same side working together to value their beauty and this can be very effective with teenagers who feel pressure to dress a certain way.” Wendi brings this concern and passion to ShineGIRL, where she teaches young women how to SHINE from the inside out. This is a nine-week personal development course that uses an inspirational, practical and experiential approach to learning.

Lokey Roof Raiser

for Habitat for Humanity A Lokey General Manager will live for a month on the roof of Lokey Volkswagon as part of the 2nd Annual Lokey Roof Raiser that runs from April 1 – 30. During the month, for every new car purchased at Lokey Nissan,VW and Kia, we will donate $500 in the customer’s name to build three Habitat for Humanity homes in the Steven Creek neighborhood of Clearwater. This is an innovative project that is taking a failing public housing tract and creating a new neighborhood of 51 homes. The goal is to raise $150,000. The homes are being built in memory of slain St. Peterburg police officers, Thomas Baitinger, Jeffrey Yaslowitz and David Crawford. In addition to donating the money, Lokey employees and friends will provide the labor and customers are invited to join the building process, too.

The goal is for each girl to develop an understanding of her own personal worth, strength and purpose. Other instructors join Wendi to help the girls build confidence and a sense of self-worth, helping them to identify their strengths and realize the potential for greatness inside each one of them.

Follow the Roof Raiser’s live feed at and see pictures of volunteers building the first house on the Lokey Charities Facebook page.

The first ShineGIRL class graduated on March 7th. “It was such a great experience to come alongside these girls through this program. Friendships were formed, values strengthened, and fears conquered. What an honor it is to mentor young girls to find their value, worth and purpose,” said Wendi about this first class.

3rd Annual Lokey Charities Golf Classic The 3rd Annual Lokey Charities Golf Classic is coming up on May 11th at the Belleair Country Club. Find out details and register a foursome or commit to sponsor online at

For more information on FTGI and when the next ShineGIRL class starts, send an email to Reach Wendi at

Whatever we raise through the Classic will be matched by Mr. Lokey for charities!


--2012 Community Partners Homeless Emergency Project, Pinellas County Fresh Start for Kids Suncoast YMCA Highpoint Habitat for Humanity Family First Kids Charity Tampa Bay GoodLiving photo courtesy of Wendi Braswell

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people Betsy Alshuler American Culinary Federation Tampa Bay Chefs Chefs are good people, too! And they organize themselves locally as a chapter of the American Culinary Federation for professional development as well as community service. They hold a Peanut Butter Power Drive every year, collecting jars of peanut butter for groups that serve the poor and homeless. “Peanut butter is an excellent source of nutrition which requires no refrigeration and comes in easily portable containers,” said Pat Lucardie, president of the local chapter called Tampa Bay Chefs. In February, one of their members, Betsy Alshuler, was recognized with the Chapter President’s Medal for collecting a whopping 2,500 pounds of peanut butter for Pasco County organizations. Betsy operates Sophisticated Sweets, a custom-order desserts company in Wesley Chapel. To honor Read Across America day on March 2nd, volunteer chefs went to Chiaramonte Elementary in South Tampa to serve a hot breakfast to students and parents. “It’s Dr. Seuss’ birthday so we decorate our chef hats and have fun with the kids,” said Lucardie. The work chefs do on behalf of kids falls under a national program called the Chef and Child Foundation, led locally by retired chef Ray Benton of New Port Richey. He has led an effort to plant a garden at Northwest Elementary School in addition to coordinating educational programs about food and nutrition. Volunteer chefs present “ABC’s of Cooking” to preschools and “Cooking ABC’s” to after-school programs. The programs are free to the school. The chapters community service goes on through the year, culminating with an annual cookie bake that provides about 15,000 cookies to Meals on Wheels in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties. For information on joining the chapter or learning more about their service projects, contact Pat Lucardie at


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Made by Hand

local Women in Business


Women are resilient, creative, adaptable and willing to do whatever it takes to care for their families. They moved from the farm to the factories during the first half of the 20th Century. And then they moved from the home to the 9 to 5 job in the latter half. Wartime, economic demands, voting rights and equal rights have kept women’s roles in a constant state of change. The most recent development for women is the rise of the female entrepreneur. Women are looking to find flexibility and freedom that can’t be found in a typical corporate-style or time-clock driven job. Moms are finding a happy place between “at-home mom” and “at-work mom” by starting their own businesses. This autonomy gives them the power they need to care for their families, meet financial demands and do it on their own terms.

Women without children also desire independence and the ability to structure their life outside of the daily regimen of a corporate-style job. And some need to supplement their retirement. A wide variety of opportunities are out there for women who want to run businesses. Companies that offer the direct selling and home party model are popular. Other women freelance or contract skills like writing, bookkeeping and childcare. Still others, like the ones featured here, take it to the extreme. Not only do they run a business, these local women invent or make their own products to sell, often times in their homes with help from their families.

The Pami Pocket It took five years and a lot of motivation for Pamela French to take her invention from idea to reality. The idea came, because like many Florida women, she would wear a swimsuit and had nowhere to put her phone. With the help of her husband who is an experienced upholsterer, she developed a little bag for women to carry their cell phones and he made her prototype. She carried that sample for years to the point it almost wore out. The turning point was when her mother took a bad fall and needed emergency care. The two women were wearing pants without pockets and so if Pamela didn’t have her bag, she wouldn’t have had her phone. She knew right then that women needed this product. This busy mom with our four boys who helps with her husband’s business, switched into high gear and got to networking with groups like the Tampa Bay Business Owners, the Tampa Bay Inventor’s Council and Working Women of Tampa Bay. Her family is a big help, too. Her supportive husband and sons hold down the fort while she networks and sells. Her nieces are models and her parents help spread the word. She is working local events and green markets, but she also thinking big and reaching out to major retailers. Learn more and buy the Pami Pocket at

Bows and Clothes Wife and mother of two daughters, Kim Valentino Perez, started making custom bows and outfits for her daughters. They were so cute people told her to start selling her designs, so she created her own studio and got a site on People come to her for unique items for babies, girls and women, most of them embellished with Swarovski crystals with holiday themes. She takes custom orders for birthday girls, cheerleaders, soccer teams or personalized gifts for girly girls of all ages. “I like having my own business because it allows me to spend quality time with my two daughters and help my husband with his own business as well. I also have the freedom to take my kids to and from school and to all their extra activities.” Find her products at GiftCreationsbyKim on


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Rock and Redeemer Wife and mother, Maria Silva, created Rock and Redeemer because she wanted a company bigger than herself. She wanted to make a difference and have an impact in people’s lives. “It took about a year of prayers and research that led me to the decision of starting a business as a faith-based crystal apparel company.” These aren’t just shirts with sayings on them in crystals. They are art on a shirt. And for her, art with a spiritual message that would touch people’s hearts. “It is my way of reaching people across the street and around the world.” Maria attends events and sells her clothing online. She enjoys having the freedom to schedule work around her family life and homeschooling her son, something that is very important to her. To see her designs and place orders, visit

The Go Caddy

When Vicki Forster would go to the YMCA near her Trinity home all she really wanted to carry was her water bottle, ID card and keys and longed for a bag that would do just that. When she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she started making a design for her own bag. That design became the Go Caddy. She was already an accomplished seamstress who made custom curtains for client in her home, so she started making the bags herself. After working the sales end, she increased her orders and then found a factory to make them for her. Good thing because she got picked up by Solutions catalog and the orders started pouring in. She expanded the bag to make the Golf Caddy because you need some tees and a towel to go with your water. Order you own bags at

Hope on a Rope

Wife and mother of three, Jennifer Harvey, started making glass pendants as a hobby, a way to relax and “do my own thing” separate from her husband and her kids. “I never thought I was the creative type, but I soon realized that I loved creating something personal I could wear.” Next, she began giving custom pendants away as gifts to family and family and it caught on fast. “People really want to wear things that are personal, that have meaning.” Jen says people really like the pendants with a child’s picture. School groups, girls’ sports teams or any special club or group can get customized pendants for fun and bonding. Bible study groups can choose a favorite scripture, too. It was her daughter who first started finding paying customers and now it’s a home business with its own website for sales. Jen especially likes wearing her unique scripture pendants and having people ask her what it says.

Intensity Academy Michele Northrup was being an involved mom at the Learning Gate School in Lutz. The assignment was to make something interesting for carrot week. Her idea was to use the natural sweetness of carrots to balance the heat of the peppers for a hot sauce. She was right and everyone loved it. With some encouragement and access to a commercial kitchen, she started bottling her original recipe. That launched her company which has an ever-growing line of products. She’s expanded to tea infused marinades, ketchups, dipping sauces, hot sauces and dry seasoning blends. What makes Michele unique is that she uses organic teas in her sauces. Everything Michele makes she creates herself, testing new recipes in her own kitchen using friends and family as testers. “I jumped in without looking back. For me, the worst case scenario is that all my friends know they will get hot sauce for Christmas!” Michele’s takes her “saucy” self to local green markets and expos to sell directly to customers. Local shops like Spiceman’s Kitchen of Tarpon Springs carry her products and she is always looking for more stores and restaurants to carry her line. Her devoted customers love the stuff, but so do the critics. She has won more than 50 national awards. And it all started with a homework project! Buy her products at

Name This Recipe and Win a Saucy 4-Pack

One of Michele’s most popular recipes is for a Greekinspired dip, shown below. It needs a name! So put on your creative hat and send us your ideas. The winning name will win one of Michele’s Saucy 4-packs. Dip Ingredients: 16 oz of Greek Plain Yogurt 8oz of crumbled feta cheese 1 bar softened cream cheese 1-2 TBLS Garlic Goodness to taste Directions: Blend together & chill for 2 hours. Serve with pita chips, bread rounds or fresh veggies. To send your ideas: Go to and find the tab that says, “Contact us.” Send in a contact form with your names and a phone number to reach you. Deadline to enter is April 30, 2012.

Viva Tomatillo

Lisa Scanio started her company, Scan Salvo, to be able to sell her salsa verde. It started with a recipe that people loved, but she wasn’t sure how to take it from her kitchen to the markets. A friend put her in touch with Cindy Herman of Your Pro Kitchen in Largo, a commercial kitchen that individuals can lease to make their food products. Cindy did more than just lease her kitchen space. “She helped me find the right jar supplier that would sell me smaller quantities at first, she helped us get the labels done and she told us how to get the proper licenses to go into business.” This help did more for Lisa than just get her company launched. It helped her earn income so she could stay close to home to care for her new baby who was born with medical issues that demand Lisa’s time. The salsa business is a family business. You can find them at local green markets, food festivals and craft shows. A website is in development now, but if anyone is interested in learning more about Lisa’s product, they can contact her at

Are you a Woman of Action? Find out more at



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A Tale of Two Women

By age 30 Kim was like many Americans, plagued with chronic pain, anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome. While studying to become a massage therapist and a health coach, she learned about the influence of nutrition, both good and bad. “I discovered I had food allergies and began taking baby steps to change my diet.” It wasn’t long before Kim felt great. She said good-bye to her prescription meds and began her journey to make believers out of as many people as possible. “I never dreamed I’d own a restaurant, but all I wanted to do was cook and feed people healthy food so they could see for themselves how much better they would feel.” Also two years ago, just less then three miles up the road in Ozona, Teresa Kerr was planning her first restaurant. A native of Hawaii, she grew up eating healthy and organic foods and loved to cook. It was her family who encouraged her to start a restaurant. “We didn’t pay any attention to the naysayers who said we were crazy because of the economy.” Teresa’s parents came to help her launch, making it a true Hawaiian family affair. As serendipity would have it, a mutual friend brought the two of them together just as Kim was opening. “I had never worked in a restaurant before, so Kim let me work there with her. I would be there for ten hours and come home exhausted with sore feet. The only thing on my mind was that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” Teresa opened Ohana Café six months later in September 2010.

Teresa Kerr and Kim Mohr

This is a tale of two women who live in the best of times and the worst of times; in an age of wisdom and an age of foolishness. Best: We have a most favorable climate for women to start and run their own businesses. Worst: But even for two women who know how to prepare nutritious and delicious food, they took huge risks launching new restaurants in the middle of a recession that has small businesses closing every day. Wisdom: We have more knowledge about the benefits of good nutrition than ever before. Foolishness: Except as a country we have a food system that makes it difficult for citizens to obtain food that is whole and not processed; natural and not genetically altered; and clean and not pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Think about the food offerings available on most U.S. street corners, most of them fast food. Then think about Serendipity Café and the Ohana Café, both independently-owned restaurants where patrons can eat whole, natural and clean foods made fresh by scratch in a homey, friendly atmosphere. “My wish is for restaurants like ours to be the norm,” said Kim Mohr, owner of Serendipity Café in downtown Dunedin. A newer restaurant that celebrated its two-year anniversary on the day we did this interview.

Today both restaurants are thriving. Locals and regulars fill their seats; but they fill their hearts as well. “Our customers are like our family,” adds Teresa with a twinkle in her eye. Anyone who visits Ohana Café will get that twinkle along with a bright and welcoming smile that originates from a happy soul. Serendipity is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm serving from the regular menu with a dinner special every week. Closed Monday. Everything on Kim’s menu is made from whole foods, made from scratch and is 100% gluten free. Many ingredients are organic and proteins are free from hormones and antibiotics. There are standards on the menu like the favorite mini pizzas and hot pressed wraps, however she offers daily specials and gluten-free baked goods that typically sell out. Find it at 664 Main Street in Dunedin. The menu can be seen at Tucked in the lush trees of Ozona, Ohana Café is open Tuesday to Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 10 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm. Enjoy a live hula show on Friday nights and live music on Saturday nights on the outdoor dining patio. Teresa’s regulars love her vegetable smoothies. “A healthy, blended salad is great for anyone on the go!” she says with a big smile. Meals have a distinctively Hawaiian influence with Teresa’s customized healthy twist such as with the Ono Mahi-Mahi tacos or the Kalua Chicken and Cabbage. The best recommendation is to go to website and download the menu. It’s really quite amazing. Kim and Teresa became instant friends and continue to support one another. They test recipes, share information and cross promote each other’s restaurant. They are even willing to share their experience with others looking to open a healthy restaurant because they want to see more competitors out there. A phrase on Kim’s menu sums it up the best: The quality of one’s food affects the quality of one’s life. And thanks to these entrepreneurs who love sharing good food with others, many people’s lives are healthier and tastier.


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Green Markets

It may not be as convenient as the neighborhood grocery store, but hitting the local green markets, or farmers markets, can become a habit that’s as enjoyable as it is healthy. In addition to serving up produce, the markets often have live music, hot food and a friendly atmosphere. Pinellas County has seen several new markets open and they are gaining popularity with shoppers and local vendors. The granddaddy of local markets is the SATURDAY MORNING MARKET, located in the parking lot of Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg. Two produce vendors are on site along with a number of other vendors who offer a selection of foods that are fresh, preservative-free and made by locals. Like pasta? Pappardelle’s Pasta sells 40 different flavors of handmade pasta at their booth. Grab some fish fresh from the docks to go with your produce and pasta from Fisher’s Seafood Market. Know someone who uses an EBT card? Encourage them to shop for fresh food at the market. They can use it there. Market runs from October to late May on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A summer market runs in the parking lot of the Mahaffey Theater.


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Get Fresh on Tuesdays at the TUESDAY MARKET in Gulfport at 3000 Beach Blvd. About 50 to 60 vendors with a wide variety of products are at this market every Tuesday. Purchase fresh, gourmet or locally made foods from Cecille’s Asian Ingredients, Charlie’s Seafood, Farm Fresh Jams, Florida Grass-Fed Beef, Franek’s Sausage Co, Island Flavors & Tings, New York Bread & Bagels, Parke Family Hydrofarms, Pop Craft and much more. This is a year-round market open Tuesdays from 9 am to 3 pm. Visit DUNEDIN’S GREEN MARKET in the heart of beautiful Dunedin. Go for the produce and stay to soak in the atmosphere. If you bring your four-legged friends, stop for some healthy pet treats. A typical weekend has 20 to 30 vendors. You’ll find local honey, gluten-free cakes, nuts and granola, organic wheat grass concentrate, hummus and fresh from the boat seafood. Ready-to-eat food is onsite as is live entertainment. In addition to food, you can buy pine straw baskets, organic cotton clothing and orchids. Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm. The CLEARWATER MARKET is a smaller market, but stop for great produce from Bob and Daughter’s and grab a tasty mid-week lunch of organic smoothies, juices and veggie burgers. Live music makes it a nice break from work as you shop for spices, snacks, nuts, dips and other smaller items. Wednesdays from 9 am to 2 pm until May 16.

eating SAFETY HARBOR’S MARKET is located in their beautiful downtown area. Another smaller market, but it’s growing. Find some natural skin care products and super health food. A representative from Wholefood Farmacy has a variety of organic products from ready to make shake mixes, super food snacks, and a 7-day cleanse package available for purchase onsite. Joe’s Market has a variety of produce and offers a few organic items. Thursdays from 8 am to 1:30 pm through May. The BELLEAIR MARKET is unique. It is not located in a downtown area, but nestled nicely in the middle of a neighborhood in Hunter Park off Ponce de Leon. It’s spacious, quiet and peaceful. Meet representatives from the Indian Rocks Beach organic farm if you are interested in signing up for a local co-op or feed the alpacas for 50 cents. Not kidding. Fridays from 9 am to 2 pm through May. The PALM HARBOR CROSSROADS FARMERS’ MARKET can be found at the corner of Curlew of Belcher. Kilpatrick Produce brings in a variety of produce to sell. “We have local produce if it’s grown in Florida,” said Jason Webb who drives to the farms and buys directly from them, just as his grandfather did when he started the company. Joy’s Gourmet is worth the stop. Their garlic spreads, dressings and pasta sauces are delicious, low sugar, low sodium and preservative free. The company’s founder, a former NASA executive, uses his mother’s recipes and Florida produce. Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. TARPON SPRINGS SUNDAY MORNING FARMERS MARKET is found on the corner of Alt. 19 and Tarpon Ave. Rudy’s Produce is on hand with a variety of produce and the very popular fresh-cut pineapple. While you’re stocking up on veggies for the week, you can treat your family by carrying home hot food from Yia Yia’s Grecian Delights. Sophia O’Malley and Laura Calderas cook up Greek and Mexican dishes for sale by the serving. The pulled pork and spanakopita were delicious. Serve that hot food with freshly baked breads from Pop Bakes, made by Torrey Craig. He delights in making bread, “the way it is supposed to be made” and being creative with ingredients. You can find potato bread, 100% whole wheat, honey oatmeal, cottage cheese and chives and quick breads like orange pecan or apple-bananacranberry. Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm through May. The ODESSA ORGANIC FARMER’S MARKET (8701 Gunn Highway) sells only 100% organic and locally grown produce. Some of it is hydroponically grown. Hours are: Friday 11 am to 6 pm; Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Every 2nd Sunday they hold their ODESSA OPEN MARKET with vendors, live entertainment and more from 11 am to 4 pm. Market owner has also started a community garden in the adjacent lot.


An Online Chemical-Free Produce Market for the St. Petersburg Community St. Pete Locally Gown is an online green market that makes healthy living as easy as a click of the mouse. Nathan and Tiny Levy are co-market managers of St. Pete Locally Grown. They started by selling produce from their own farm in 2010 and since then 32 growers have joined the St. Pete online market. St. Pete Locally Grown has a variety of local and healthy products available to purchase including skin care products, spices, eggs and honey. None of the growers use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Customers can browse through updated inventory each week and make their selections. The online market opens Monday at 5 p.m. and closes on Wednesday at noon. The products are delivered mid-morning on Friday. The delivery route is limited to a 9-mile radius to conserve fuel. There is a $35 membership fee per family to order online from the market. Levy and her husband also host lectures each week from September through April. The topics range from eating healthfully to growing your own food. Speakers have lectured on subjects such as raising urban chickens, kicking the sugar habit and incorporating fermented foods into a healthy diet. Through these lectures, Levy hopes that people will be encouraged to grow their own food. The economy has forced people to live minimally, and a home garden is sometimes overlooked as a way to save money. “We on a mission for people to become more self-sustaining,” Tina Levy said. She is overwhelmed by the positive feedback from the market customers that both she and Nathan have received. People are grateful for the healthy products that have been made readily available through the online market. For more information about St. Pete Locally Grown, visit them online at or find Locally Grown on Facebook.


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Exercises Teens Secretly Love ....and do by PETE COSENTINO

With schools cutting back on physical activity requirements, more teens are left sitting in front of the computer — causing teens, as a whole, not to get enough exercise. According to the American Heart Association, teens should raise their heart rates for 20 minutes without stopping, three or more times a week. That sounds great, but with school, dance, soccer, church and other activities filling the schedule — how do you fit in exercise and is it really that important?

Why is fitness important and how do teens benefit? Exercising: • boosts energy • increases self-confidence • reduces stress • helps with a goodnight’s sleep • improves cognitive awareness and sharpness, helping students focus on tests and homework • releases endorphins which decreases anxiety and encourages a positive attitude

How do I get my teen to exercise? Getting teens to exercise isn’t too much different than what motivates you, as an adult, to lace up your gym shoes and go for a workout. First, it has to be fun. Once you find an activity your teen likes, develop a support group for motivation and establish goals to work toward an accomplishment.

Yes, staying active is important. Getting in a daily dose of fitness is actually easier than you think. Exercise is more than grabbing a gym Exercises teens already secretly love bag and lifting weights. There are many day-to-day activities that (fun fitness activities they do anyway!): burn calories, increase heart rate and work up a sweat. One great • Walk or go for a bike ride – it’s a free and convenient way example parents love: chores! Washing dishes, vacuuming, dusting to chat with friends and get in some good cardio. and more burn sufficient calories — it’s all about multi-tasking. • Walk the mall – one thing teen girls love – shopping! Now Some teens (and parents) think playing video games count as they can accomplish both without breaking a sweat (well, maybe). exercise. While there are a variety of gaming systems that provide • Team sports: swimming, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, significant calorie burns (such as Wii Fit and Xbox Connect), nothing hockey, rowing and more replaces getting up and going for a run. Staying active, especially • Dance and group fitness classes like Zumba, for growing young men and women, is essential to maintaining a kickboxing, yoga and Pilates healthy lifestyle and comes with other surprising benefits. • Ice skating or rollerblading According to a recent issue of Time magazine and studies completed in the Netherlands, the more physically active children are, the better they score on tests. Plus, the study revealed that GPA scores were higher in children who were most active.

Before starting any exercise program, it’s a good idea for teens and parents to talk to a coach or fitness expert at a gym. He or she can help steer you in an effective program that’s right for your level of fitness and health condition.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also analyzed 50 studies and reported that more than half showed a positive relationship between school-based physical activity and academic performance. As a result, memory, self-esteem and verbal skills were improved.

An ideal time to explore fitness options with your teen is during the summer when they have more free time to try new activities. Worried about cost? Lifestyle Family Fitness, which has multiple locations throughout Florida, offers a free 2-month gym membership to teens (12-17 years) from May 15 until August 15. Teen memberships provide all-day access to Lifestyle Family Fitness clubs on weekends and access until 4 p.m. on weekdays. Register your teen at a club near you or visit Pete Cosentino is the Vice President of Product Development at Lifestyle Family Fitness and a certified personal trainer.


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CALLING ALL BROWN THUMBS 5 Easy Florida Edibles That You Can Grow For Your Health by MELISSA KANARIS

So you’re intimidated by anything green, are you?


It’s your time to move beyond the cacti and succulents. They can be beautiful, but why not grow the easy species that enhance the look of your home, while giving something back?Here’s a list of 5 health-giving plants that you can gradually add to your porch, patio or yard space. These edibles look great year-round; they require very little water and the bugs don’t bother with them.

Lemongrass has been a staple in cuisine because of its aromatic nature and citrus-like taste. This beautiful grass plant also deters insects (plant it near porches, it’s the true citronella) and the broken stalks can be rubbed against the skin to do the same. It also works well to treat insect bites, wounds and other skin irritations.

Aloe This succulent packs many purposes. If you have ever suffered from sunburn, you know about its skin healing properties. Did you know that ingesting aloe vera gel has countless health benefits to it as well? • Aloe vera gel contains 19 of the 20 amino acids needed in the body • It contains a range of vitamins, including the energy boosting B12 • It contains calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, chromium, zinc & more • It is anti-inflammatory, creating a pain-killing effect without drugs • Just like our epidermal skin, it cleans and repairs the lining of the mucous membranes in our digestive and respiratory systems Eating fresh aloe: Snip the meaty leaf (at it’s base) and cut off a 2” piece (store the rest for later). Slice off the spiny sides and cut in half, scraping out the gel center (don’t scrape too close to the skin, unless you are looking for a colon cleansing effect). To offset the slight bitterness of the gel, you can throw it in a blender with fresh fruit or home-squeezed orange juice.

Rosemary Planting aromatic rosemary throughout your property will help to repel mosquitos and other pesky bugs. It is also great for repelling feral cats in your garden or to bundle sprigs for your furniture and other surfaces you don’t want your own purring pets jumping on. Recipes calling for rosemary are endless; you can even use the leaves to make a tea (steep for 15 minutes). Rosemary tea tastes especially good when steeped with cinnamon or licorice root, which can be found in bulk at local health food stores. • Rosemary builds the immune system and increases circulation • It enhances mood and improves memory • It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic • It’s leaves contain vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron • Rosemary tea can be used as a hair rinse for dandruff

• Lemongrass is a diuretic, it aids in digestion and helps maintains healthy blood pressure • It improves your mood and has a calming effect • It is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-fungal

Olive Tree Olive trees are fairly drought tolerant and virtually bug-resistant. These beauties can be kept in a large pot or they can be planted in the ground. They might require a couple of years before the fruit arrives, but in the meantime the leaves can be harvested for an extremely powerful tea, full of benefits: • Olive leaf tea is anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic • It provides immune support, reduces blood pressure and regulates blood sugar • It is rich in anti-oxidants • It can be applied as a toner for acne

Moringa Tree I could easily add a few more great edibles to this list, but to keep it short, I would like to mention this last one. Called the Moringa Oleifera Tree, it seems to trump all the others with its miraculous abilities. It is a vegetable tree that requires very little water and is therefore being used as a staple crop in Africa to combat malnourishment. The trouble with telling you the properties of this tree is that it would require an article in itself, but to give you a short background: the edible leaves can be added to salads, smoothies or soups for mega doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and anti-oxidants. The crushed seeds of the Moringa tree are able to purify contaminated water supplies. If you would like to learn more about these incredible trees or our olive trees, you can log on to my company website at


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parenting “...the one thing a baby needs most is to have a consistent, warm, caring and nurturing caregiver who tunes into their expressed needs” Relationships are Critical to Brain Development

Providing What Your Child Needs Most Will Ease Your Mind! By DEBORAH MCNELIS, M.S.ED New parents want to provide all that is best for the new child. During pregnancy (or the adoption process) expectant parents read everything they can get their hands on, looking for the perfect advice to provide direction and build confidence. Then the day arrives and the very special newborn is placed in their arms… and melts their hearts. This innocent little one is dependent on its parents, and as frightening as it may seem, parents strive to do everything they can to care and protect their precious child. Sadly, I have found in doing presentations across the country and talking with thousands of people that one of the most critical and primary needs for a young child is not yet common knowledge. It is vital that every adult understand that the one thing a baby needs most is to have a consistent, warm, caring and nurturing caregiver who tunes into their expressed needs.

Understanding the Impact of Early Experiences The best thing parents (or caregivers) can do for a baby is realize that 90% of a child’s brain develops before kindergarten. The following key points can help with understanding the essential basics of early brain development: • Your child’s brain is not finished developing at birth. • For growth to occur, the 100 billion cells in your baby’s brain need to be connected with each other. So the preschool years become the time for a great amount of development because nine months is not long enough to connect this vast number of brain cells. • Brain growth doesn’t just magically happen; it is dependent on experiences. When a child has experiences this makes the brain cells fire and then actually wire together. • It is the type of experiences your child has that primarily influences the way in which your child’s brain will be wired. • A brain will develop and adapt to negative experiences just as easily as it will adapt and make connections based on positive experiences.


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A parent’s heart wants most to simply love the new baby. Isn’t it wonderful that what we naturally want to do is best for the brain of a young child? It is the consistent and loving interaction that will impact the base of the wiring in the brain. This means really tuning into what the baby is communicating, whether it is hunger, discomfort, fear, overstimulation or boredom, and then responding quickly to provide attention and comfort. It is also wonderful to have science providing information like never before. It can help ease your mind to know this is more than just theory. Research demonstrates that consistently responding to the needs of a baby can have these impacts: • Early interactions set up the basis for expectations, self perception, self regulation, and relationships throughout life. • When parents consistently recognize and respond to expressed needs, a baby makes strong brain connections that lead to not only healthy emotional development, but also contributes to cognitive development and later learning. • It is through establishing routines and this pattern of expressed needs being met, the baby begins to trust and feels safe and secure in the world. This knowledge can guide parents when it comes to making critical decisions about whether or not to seek outside childcare for a baby. No matter what decision is made, it is imperative for parents to ensure that the person caring for their child is consistently the same person and is one who understands the importance of a secure relationship and predictability. Parents will have more peace of mind if they know their child is in a loving environment and receiving safe and consistent care that will benefit the develop of the brain. Deborah McNelis, M.S.ed, is owner/creator of braininsights® and an early brain development specialist. She is the award winning author of The Brain Development Series and Naturally Developing Young Brains. Her brain development packets and new App sell worldwide, and she receives rave reviews for her presentations throughout the country. For more brain development information and ideas go to


Why Kids Love Video Games by SCOTT RIGBY, PHD Video games have become a major pastime around the world, and every year they improve in both the quality of their graphics and sound, as well as the overall richness of the experience they offer players. Games like Red Dead Redemption and World of Warcraft offer vast open worlds to explore, either alone or with others. Social games, like Cityville, have many of us hankering for just-one-more-turn. More intense combat games – such as Call of Duty – also keep gamers glued to the screen for hours. And often very noisy hours at that! For the non-gamers in the household this means being subjected to hearing gunfire, explosions, and the roar of both victory and defeat from your children (or even spouse) during an on-screen battle. For parents, video games often present a battle off the screen as well. They are so compelling that it can be difficult to regulate how much kids play without significant conflict. Just mentioning video games to many parents sparks an immediate look of weariness, frustration, or some combination of the two. And as games continue to get more and more compelling, the battle will no doubt deepen. My colleagues and I have been studying the psychological pull and deep motivational draw of video games for almost ten years now, and here are a few things that may help you to manage gaming in your household, keeping it at a healthy level.

Start by better understanding what makes games so compelling Often parents become focused on the spectacular, often violent content in video games. There is understandable concern about what effect this content may have, and why shooting is apparently so much fun. Our research has found that the violent content itself isn’t nearly as important to gamers (even when playing violent games) so much as having certain experiences that satisfy basic psychological needs for mastery, autonomy, and relatedness.

Mastery Mastery (or competence) is a basic need we all have (whether at work, at school, on the soccer field, or yes – even playing a video game). Games actually provide players great feedback on their success and failure at tasks that allows them to improve in their mastery consistently and quickly, and rewards them with even greater challenges.

Autonomy Autonomy is another basic need – our need to feel that we can freely choose between interesting options and pursue self-initiated experiences (rather than feeling “controlled” by others). Games offer a very rich “possibility space” for players to explore new lands, engage in creative thinking about strategy, and discover novel experiences as they progress through the game. For a kid – who often feels constrained in their freedom – games can offer a very compelling place to feel more autonomous and satisfied.

Relatedness Relatedness is a third basic need. It’s that feeling that “I matter” to others, and they matter to me. Because games – even intense battle games – often require cooperation between players to succeed, a sense of camaraderie is readily available that can be very satisfying. Understanding that satisfaction of these needs is often occurring in a very powerful way in games can help increase your empathy for why your kids want to play, so you are better informed when limits need to be set. When limit-setting, we offer a couple of simple suggestions… First, try to understand games by talking to your kids about what they love about them. Ask them to tell you about their favorite moments in the game, or what they found particularly fun when playing today. Many gamers eyes will light up as they recount experiences in the games they love, and this helps kids feel more understood, even when limits need to be set. If you’re “game,” we even recommend you sit down and try playing with your kids. Succeeding doesn’t matter – it’s the attempt that counts: it communicates that you care about what they enjoy, and will help you better communicate about the games they love. When setting limits, remember how satisfying and fun games are – and that for your kids, limiting this fun is a pain in the neck. Acknowledge this to them. Tell them that you understand that limits feel constraining, frustrating, and even angering. Then explain why you feel the limits are important (rather than simply “because I said so”). This may take a bit more effort, but will help your relationship with your kids even if they stay grumpy about it. And it will likely help diffuse the extent of their frustration and anger – and lighten the burden on you! Be careful though – once you try playing games with your kids, you may find your inner-gamer and someone will have to pull you away too! Scott Rigby, Phd, is the co-author of the book Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound. In addition, Rigby has published numerous scientific studies about motivation, ranging from education to video games to health. He is the principal investigator on several grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health looking at innovative ways to enhance learning and sustain motivation for healthy lifestyle change through eHealth and virtual environments.


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Nancy Bostock...“ “MomPolitical” MomPolitical” By PAMELA SETTLE

“Women have made the mistake of thinking that motherhood is categorized “As a mother I wanted a safe and clean place for my kids to be, the as either working or not working. I think that more of us are beginning to chance for a quality education and sound family finances. My campaign message was that as a mom, I wanted these same things for the school take advantage of the whole big world that lies in between.” Nancy Bostock learned this lesson herself, as her career moved from system.” That message resonated with voters who elected her to her first being a full-time teacher to a stay-at-home mom to a local politician term in 1996. She would serve three terms before running and winning a seat on the Pinellas County Commission in 2008. who taught her children to read while doing campaign business in their family van. “I could teach them all their pre-school skills while driving, except for cutting with scissors,” she recalled with a smile. One of her favorite early memories is having a table in the park to gather signatures and her daughter was next to her in a playpen. “I took my kids everywhere,” she says. “We were together and that’s what mattered.” Bostock didn’t come from a politicallyconnected family. Her fire for politics started in college when she and her future husband Craig worked on campaigns together. “We were young and spent our time volunteering for candidates we wanted to see elected.” It was during these years that Bostock learned what it took to win a grassroots campaign and that knowledge served her well in her first campaign for a Pinellas County School Board seat. She had been a teacher, but had no previous experience as an elected official. It started very simply. She was sitting in a school board meeting because she was going to help a friend who was running for an open seat. During that meeting another member announced retirement. “I thought about it and after about ten minutes, I realized that I could do this; that I could add to this conversation in a positive way.” It was a big step. She was a stay-at-home mom. She didn’t have a campaign fund. But she did know what needed to be done and she had friends who were interested in politics and a group of mom friends who could help her. They pitched in by gathering $5 and $25 donations and doing the campaign legwork. Next she had to find her voice as a candidate.

“It was a tough decision to run because the office requires so much more knowledge about issues like sewers, sidewalks and solid waste. In the end I realized I could provide leadership using my values about accountability, fiscal restraint and good communication with citizens. The rest I could learn.” As a Pinellas County Commissioner, Bostock says she appreciates citizens who weigh in on issues and notes that there isn’t nearly enough citizen involvement. “Sometimes one or two knowledgeable citizens can sway a decision,” she says. “Email your commissioners. It’s easy and the most direct way to communicate. I have constituents who email me during a commission meeting to comment on our live discussion.” Pinellas County citizens can watch live meetings on cable TV or by streaming it live on a computer. Accessing the agenda to see what’s happening is also very easy on the county’s website. “Wherever you are in your life, you can contribute in some way.” Even for new moms she says. “I felt very isolated with a newborn and needed to be around other moms.” She took that need and formed the first Mom’s Club of St. Petersburg, an organization that has another name now, but is still working to bring moms together to support one another. “And if women don’t want to spend babysitting dollars to work on a cause, there are ways to get involved that incorporate your kids.” Moms working together can make a difference too. Nancy’s very first campaign accountant was another mom, a friend who still serves in that capacity. Nancy shows it’s quite possible for a concerned mom to run for local office, get elected and make a difference for the future of all children. There are opportunities to get involved at many levels from school PTA to city commissioner to county commissioner. Governments also have committees that have openings for citizens. Then there are also all the campaigns. “Volunteer with your party or a particular campaign. Candidates rely upon volunteers. Learn what’s going on and get involved. There’s a lot you can do with kids in tow!”


volume 4, issue 2



Louis Mitchell Hall is our first-born child, born December 6, 1981. He taught us about unconditional love, helped us to see just how far a parent’s love reaches, and taught us all the true value of cherishing life. Our son was very bright in all that he did. He loved the thrill of roller hockey and life in general. Louis was a student at HCC and a technology geek who at age 26 was working in a job he loved as a computer network security specialist. On the night of September 5, 2008, Louis sent me a text message that he and his co-workers were going out after work. “I LOVE YOU,” the message said, along with the comment that he would see me at home later. Little did I know this would be the last text message I would ever receive from him. That night at 11:30 p.m. two Florida Highway Patrolmen came to my door and asked me if I had a son named Louis Hall. They proceeded to tell me about an accident on the Crosstown Expressway. I didn’t hear a word they said; I just kept asking, “Where is my son?” Eventually one of the officers told me he had expired at the scene. “My son had expired” were the words that would be forever engraved in my memory. The next several days required having to tell his grandmother, siblings, girlfriend and friends. Then came a string of difficult decisions about his burial and service. As parents, how many of us actually know what our child’s wishes are for burial? When we received the detailed report of the crash, it was shocking to learn that the accident was considered vehicular homicide. Louis was in a car driven by a co-worker and according to their boss, the group of coworkers had consumed no more than a couple of beers. They were headed east on the Crosstown Expressway and were traveling 89 mph at the first impact. The driver had lost control of the vehicle which began spinning; first hitting the 22nd Street sign post; spinning again before hitting the guardrail; and eventually flipped over landing on its wheels at the bottom of the embankment. I was told my son Louis died instantly from his neck being broken in both directions and that he did not suffer; a factor that has brought us little comfort. The police report described this as a violent accident and disclosed the driver’s blood alcohol content as .12. As you may or may not know, .08 is considered intoxicated.

This has been and remains a horrible and devastating nightmare that I hope no other parent has to endure. While I can still view pictures to help remember Louis’ face, it is not the real thing. I will never again experience that comforting hug from my first born son; a handsome, polite and respectful young man who positively impacted the lives of many people. This is our family’s story now because our beloved Louis made a choice to get into a car with someone who was too drunk to be driving. As his mother, my story now includes working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as a Program Specialist in the Tampa Bay area. I have changed professions because I am passionate about speaking to parents of teens on the importance of communicating with their kids about the effects of alcohol. Studies show 74% of teens say their parents are the leading influence on the decisions they make about drinking. MADD wants to empower parents on how to have a positive impact; holding frequent and clear conversations on the topic of alcohol to prevent underage drinking. I have made it my mission to tell our family story to young people, hoping to show them the devastating effects of their decisions to drink and drive. I am grateful to be able to channel my grief into this valuable work, and hope that my outreach efforts will prevent parents from experiencing the horrific loss of a child as we did. Such grief does not get easier, it just changes in intensity. Losing a child is not something you can ”move on” from, but rather learn to build your new life around. We take each day as it comes, and remain grateful to have had Louis in our lives, even if for a short time. However, we miss him being here with us and watching him grow and change. With Spring Break, proms and graduation parties being planned for the months ahead, this is the time to have those starting conversations. From one parent to another, I urge you to take action now; talk with your teen about the dangers and consequences of alcohol. Remind them that it is against the law for ANYONE under 21 to drink; that it is dangerous to their health and can damage brain cells that are still growing until age 25. Explain that their decisions to drink and drive or to ride with those who do places many people at risk; not just them. One conversation could save your child’s life. MADD has designated April 21 as PowerTalk 21 day: the day to start the conversation with your teen. Start NOW and Help us Save Lives!


volume 4, issue 2



volume 4, issue 2


2012 Spring Issue  
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