Sea Turtles for Your Swimming Pool?

Swim with turtles In your pool

Swim with turtles In your pool

Looking for a special touch for your new swimming pool  or pool remodeling project?  These 3d mosaic tile sea turtles are awesome!

Created by master tile artist Robert Vogland, they add a lifelike dimension to your pool that will elicit ohhs and ahhs with their realism.   Robert’s sea turtles and other creations can be added to existing pools during remodels, or added to new pool construction.  Robert’s custom tile art while not “cheap”  provides incredible dimension and interest to your swimming pool.

Tile Shower Floor

Shower Floor for Outdoor Shower

Robert doesn’t only do turtles, although he states it is one of his most popular creations.  He’s created amazing lifelike mosaic  dolphins, sharks and more.  If you’d like to know more or get a quote for your pool, contact HydroPro Sales at 813 444 2771 for more info.

For an idea of cost, the basic pricing for the Momma and Baby turtle is around $2700 not including freight from Hawaii or installation.

Robert’s work is not confined to swimming pool installations.  He creates  indoor tile tapestries,  signs, bath and kitchen designs as well.  He loves a challenge and to be able to create what some people say can’t be done.   Check out this tile floor for an outdoor shower!

There’s Fishing.. Then There’s Catching

Catching is Better Than Fishing!

Catching is Better Than Fishing!

I fish more than I catch.  It’s a horrible truth that’s hard to admit.  There is nothing I love more than getting out on the water and fishing.  The anticipation, the hope, the dreams of a great fish dinner.  I can keep that anticipation and hope alive for hours, and often do, waiting for that tide change, waiting for the moon phase to bring the fish to me, trying to find the best ambush spot, praying, lots of praying.   But sometimes nothing you can do makes it happen.  You paddle or ride in with the adrenaline of the day flagging and with sad knowledge it was a blank day.  Wannh!

But then there’s those catching days where you can do no wrong. Every cast is a hookup and you feel like a champion tournament winner!   I was fortunate to experience one of those recently down in one the best fishin’ holes in the world, Englewood Florida.   Englewood is South of Venice and North of Boca Grande.  There are miles of mangroves and the famous “Stump Pass” is what makes the fishing here so great!   Fish enter and exit this small pass with the tides.  The variety and quantity can be mind boggling but the prey, in my mind is trout, redfish and snook.

This particular day, my family wanted to go the beach.  We opted to take the boat since parking at Stump Pass is so limited.  We ran out the intercoastal and whipped up ski alley where I dropped off the beach goers.    I put the Scout in reverse and just backed across ski alley to the other side, anchored up by a fallen australian pine and baited up.  The tide was ripping in.  I cast upstream and drifted down  First cast STRIKE!  Trout on the line!  Landed and in the cooler.  Second cast.. nother one!  Third cast… YEP!!!  I stopped for a minute to text the family to say “non-stop fishing action guys!”  They decide to join me so I ran over and picked em up.  For the next 2 hours, we caught sheeps head, trout and ohh la la.. that gorgeous redfish you see in the picture!  Talk about heaven!

The day was good and fish for dinner was a reality not a dream.


U Pick Blueberries In The Tampa Bay Area

Bob’s Blueberry Farm in Hudson

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as Florida Blueberries.  Now, thanks to the University of Florida, we have many varieties that grow here successfully. In fact,  Blueberries are becoming one of Florida’s largest cash crops!  Picking is easy and fun for the whole family.  You can pick a lot of blueberries in an hour.. about 12 pounds worth per person.

Its easy picking when blueberries are this ripe.

Its easy picking when blueberries are this ripe.

If you are thinking about doing some blueberry picking, Bob’s Blueberry Farm and Nursery is a great place to do it.  Researching the u pick blueberry farms around Tampa was eyeopening because of the price differential of as much as 2.00 per pound!  Picking cheap was important.  There are u-pick blueberries in many locations, some closer to me than Bob’s but the u pick prices were around 5.00 per pound.  Nina, Bob’s daughter only charges 3.00 a pound for Upick and 5.00 a pound for already picked berries.  That was a deal in my book!

When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by Nina who will give you a 1 gallon  bucket lined with a grocery bag.  “Eat all you want”  she says, as she sends you off to plunder the blueberries from around 5000 blueberry bushes.  The farm has 5 different varieties of blueberries:  Jewel’s, Emeralds, Abundance, Windsors, and Snow Drifts.  Its fun to sample the berries from the different bushes and easy to enjoy eating all you want!

Blueberries from Bob's Blueberry Farm Hudson Fl

It only takes a half hour to pick 6 pounds of Blueberries!

In about a half hour my bucket was full.  The gallon bucket will weigh out right at 6 lbs.  I left my first harvest with Nina and headed back out with a fresh bucket.  I had a system down at this point, but I’ll  share it with you. Look for the clusters of all ripe berries. Put your bucket under the branch and tease them off.  If you are working on a cluster with some ripe and some not ripe berries, use the same technique.  The ripe berries will fall right into your bucket while the not so ripe ones, will stay on the bush.  Never pass up a fully ripe cluster!  You can get  3 to 10 berries with one pick!

Want to grow your own?  Bob and Nina propagate and grow blueberry plants for you to take home.  #1 containers are $5.00 and number 3 containers are $ 10.00.  That’s a deal too.

You’ll only be able to pick em through June though, so get on out there and pick some!  They are open daily and stay open to dusk during the week.

The farm also grows Goji berries for you pick.  This is an exotic fruit from the Himalayas, considered to be a super food.  The entire plant is edible and they will be available to pick soon!   Click here to visit Bob’s Blueberries on line.

Bob’s Blueberry farm is easy to find from either the Suncoast Expressway or US 19.  It’s east of Little Rd and a bit north of SR 52 off Hudson Ave.  Call Nina on the way and she’ll give you directions.  727 237 4485.

Happy Picking!


My Vegetable Garden Obsession

It’s A Small Garden Spot But…

My Crowded GardenIn the 3 foot space between my house and a walkway, right next to the pool equipment, I have my vegetable garden.  The area is perhaps 12 feet long and I practice vegetable garden “over planting.”   This is an experiment of mine that sometimes backfires but is sometimes successful. If you’re wondering what over planting is, I basically just crowd things.  I plant tall things in the middle of short things, and the short things.. like lettuce, I plant the heck out of.

As you know, growing lettuce is one of my loves so in any spare spot.  I put lettuce seeds in.. lots of them.  I like to get the mescalin blend seed packs because you never know whats going to come up.   Lettuce surprises me with it’s hardiness.  It seems like such a delicate plant but it can withstand a lot. My most recent experiment I started in November.  I devoted about 5 feet in length to a whole packet of mixed lettuce seeds.   I was overrrun by green arugula to the point that I couldn’t eat it anymore.. I thought that underneath I could see other lettuces trying to grow but they were overcome by the arugula.  It was big and grew so fast!  I felt gypped with my seeds.  One day.. I just flat pulled it all up.  An amazing thing happened, all the lettuce that had been stunted and under the arugula.. took off!

Now that part of the garden is prolific with leaf lettuce, curly lettuce, red and green romaine lettuce. and a  beautiful red/green cabbage like plant that is two and a half feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. I don’t know what it is but is is downright ornamental.

garden lettuce...yumThe other half of the area, I plant with a “crop” of something.  Green Beans is a favorite and we harvested the last of  those in January.   Now, I’ve crowded in 6 broccoli plants that are doing great.  There’s also a tomato plant growing amidst the lettuce with a volunteer cantaloupe that came up right next to the tomato plant.  I had a pepper plant in there as well but it was terribly stunted by the arugula so i removed it and put is in the earthbox where it could get some sun.  I water everything with my hydroponic solution and the experiment seems to work great.  There is always fresh lettuce, soon to be broccoli and the tomato and the cantaloupe are blooming.

The obsession part of it is I go out and just stare at everything at least 3 times per day.  I get teased a lot about this but, i just have to know.. is it too dry? Did the rain hurt anything? Omg.. there is frost on the neighbors yard.. is my garden okay?  I water I nurture and at dinner time, I pluck.

It’s just too amazing to miss.

Thinking about Mobile?

At Times Like These Mobile Is Noble

Beclecto has been doing a lot of research lately regarding the mobile landscape.   If mobilizing your company’s web presence is not on your mind now, you will lose business to your competition! Nobody wants THAT so listen up.
The internet landscape is changing. You could almost consider it a revolution or a paradigm shift because it is!  In the not so distant past, say 4 years ago, it was still perfectly ok to put your web address on all of your print media.  It still is and we’re not suggesting you quit doing it, but we are definitely suggesting that you consider that an increasing number of your users that are visiting you on mobile devices and that number is increasing every single day!

So what do they see when they visit your site on their Android or I phone?    Is it optimized for mobile?  Can you visitors find what they need without pinching or scrolling? What do you think is most important for them to find?

Most smartphone users  want to know where you are and how to reach you.   If that info isn’t front and center, they are probably gone.  They also want that info to respond to touch.  If your phone number is embedded in your beautiful header image, guess what.. all the mashing in the world is not going to transfer them to the phone function on their phone, and your phone isn’t going to ring!   Likewise with your address.

Did you know that huge numbers of people are ready and willing to shop right on their phone?  Buy your product or service right then and there while they have your site up?  Mobile commerce numbers are gigantic! Are you missing out?

Digby a compiler of mobile data quotes many sources in their industry statistics page.  Here are a few examples to get your head spinning:

Mobile Commerce and Engagement Stats

It’s time to Get Mobile

There are many mobile solution providers that can make sure your company looks great  on mobile devices.  Go Big Apps In Tampa Florida is one company that specializes in mobile apps and other mobile solutions for small business.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to happen or your company could be missing out.

How QR Codes Fit In

Mobile Landing Page with Video for Mini Of Wesely Chapel

QR codes are the “ride to your destination” for smartphones.  These two dimensional bar codes can do so many things but the most important job they do is give smart phone users a way to visit an internet destination without entering a long URL by hand into the address bar of a smart phone browser. Frankly, relying on someone to enter your URL,  proudly displayed in your print media will most likely get you few mobile visitors.  If you want to send mobile visitors to your website, or to a specific mobile optimized landing page, providing a QR code is a polite way to get them there.

Mobile Landing Pages

Rather than completely redoing your complete website, sometimes a good stop gap measure is to provide a landing page optimized for mobile. That’s what Mini OF Wesley Chapel did in the example above.  The landing page there has links to important features, a great big ole call now button, GPS enabled directions  and .. a video!  According to YouTube 200 million people view videos on their smartphones DAILY.  It is… the New TV!

Deploy Your QR Codes EVERYWHERE!

Puyour QR's Everywhere

When you have your QR codes set for your destination.. put them everywhere!  On your business cards, print media, invoices, and even on your website.  Smart phones are never far from the smartphone user and if they want to carry your mobile content with them, your coupons etc. They will scan your code!

Give them a call to action, an arrow, a reason to scan:  “Scan for Coupons” and you will be amazed.

Have a Facebook business page?  Guess what.. Facebook is nicely optimized for mobile.  Give them a ride to your Facebook business page with a “Social QR.”   If you are one of the guilty ones who has the sign at your counter.. “like of Facebook”  Get a social QR now and print some stickers and stick it up there.  You will get “likes” like never before!  Get someone to pretty it up for you.. with your business name, phone number and and a Facebook logo in the middle and you’ll be amazed at the response you get. Facebook QR codes can bring more "likes"