Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

By Bob Sanchez

The Sun City Center Art Club reopened its Art Gallery to the public on September 1 with the work of two dozen members, featuring paintings they created during the 2020 pandemic.

The participating painters were Jean Beardsley, Mary Chabot, Irena Davis, Mollie Fleck, Marion Giblin, Gary Gicking, Maureen Hileman, Gloria Hosek, Carol Husinka, Paul Kennedy, Meredith King, Bob Krowl, Marsha Lucidi, Bev Majewski, Faye McKeown, Anne Morton, Lori Murray, Dolores Phelps, Sandy Schuman, Ali Shannon, Flo Slater, Mel Solochek, Roberta Solochek, and Richard Whalen. Mel Solochek is the Gallery Director.

The show will be a recurring public event on the first Wednesday of every month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Art Club on 954 Cherry Hills Drive. Be sure to have your current Community Association ID with you, and protocols for vaccinations, mask wearing, and social distancing will apply. The Club serves snacks and beverages, which I can attest are delicious.

The artwork changes monthly, according to President Lee Anne Eckert, “giving all members a chance to share their work from beginner level to advanced. Our members are inspired by the many different types of artwork exhibited and offer each support and encouragement.”

Painting lessons are available to all levels, “no experience required,” she added. They also have Open Studio time on Wednesday afternoons, except for the first Wednesday when we have the Gallery Opening.  There’s also hold a yearly art show each January or February.

For more information about the Art Club, call Lee Anne at 973-714-5019 or email her at “laeckert@gmail.com.”

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!Entertainment, Food, Art, Shopping, and a Health Fair                By Diane M. Loeffler Rain or shine, FallFest will take place on October 16. The day will begin at the gazebo with opening remarks, the flag raising, the...

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the PandemicBy Bob Sanchez The Sun City Center Art Club reopened its Art Gallery to the public on September 1 with the work of two dozen members, featuring paintings they created during the 2020 pandemic. The...

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Don’t miss FallFest on October 16, browse the Art Club’s latest creations, cruise the St. Johns River, sail on the Eagle, hit the target with a local Olympian, commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, discover some great places to...

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

The fruits of The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program labor were realized with the release of five rehabbed sea turtles including two Kemp's Ridley and three greens in North Ormond Beach. After months of specialized and compassionate care,...

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of BeerBy Andrea L.T. Peterson Thanks to a reader recommendation, we discovered the Alafia Brewing Company in Gibsonton. When the Editor asked if I wanted to check it out, I thought: “I’ve been alcohol-free...

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar FactoryBy Bob Sanchez In July, a small group from the Sun City Center Photo Club toured the J. C. Newman Cigar Company to see first-hand how cigars are still made in Ybor City. For the senior rate of $12 per...

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

By Andrea L.T. Peterson

Thanks to a reader recommendation, we discovered the Alafia Brewing Company in Gibsonton. When the Editor asked if I wanted to check it out, I thought: “I’ve been alcohol-free for more than 35 years. What do I know about beer? Especially craft beers?” Absolutely nothing! But what I do know is a couple of guys—David and Richard, sons of my good friend and South Lake neighbor, Ann Fenimore. Now these guys are self-described beer snobs. Who better to check out a new brewery!

So, off I went with the whole family (Ann, the boys, and sisters Beth and Susan) to check it out. Located about 10 miles from Sun City Center, just north of I-75 and Big Bend Road on U.S. 41, the Alafia Brewing Company is in a less than attractive strip mall. But I implore you to ignore the total lack of curb appeal and check this place out.

What’s lacking on the outside is made up for on the inside. Aside from a variety of 27 options, including beers, ciders, meads, and seltzers as well a few non-alcoholic soda selections (root beer, chocolate cream, and grape) the Brewery offers live music, karaoke, trivia, professional wrestling, and drag, burlesque or male reviews on given nights.

Food is only served daily after 6 p.m., except on Sundays when they have brunch. Food isn’t prepared on site—but during the daytime the Mexican store next door has an intriguing menu of authentic Mexican dishes and guests are welcome to bring food from next door and eat in the Brewing Company. During the hours when food is offered, it is catered by Tampa’s Danny’s All-American Diner (of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives fame).

The interior is such a stark contrast to the exterior. The space is a vast, open, rustic space with a lengthy bar on one side and two tops and tables for larger groups on the other. Murals on the walls, painted by the owners’ daughter, depict Florida wildlife and an outside art curator brings artwork by local artists which covers the walls—and it’s all for sale!

Owned and run by Mary and George Taylor for not quite a year, the Brewery sports a variety of beverages. The most popular, says Mary, who brews them all, are The Kenosha Lager and the Pineapple Chipotle Cider (pineapple with cider spices and a touch of spicy chipotle).

Mary, who may be known to some old-timers in Sun City Center from when she brought her students (she taught English at East Bay High School for 33 years) to compete in the Rotary Youth Oratorical Contest held at Freedom Plaza, is something of an accidental brewer! Before she retired from teaching in 2017, she and her husband went to a Halloween party thrown by a teacher friend. He served beer made from a Mr. Beer kit. Impressed with it, she purchased a Mr. Beer kit for her husband who’d brew up some selections now and then.

Then George came to Mary and announced, ‘I’ve found a brew club! We MUST go!’ “We?” Mary responded! Well, thrilled though she wasn’t, they went. “They were really lovely people, but I had zero interest,” she told me. Not long after, George announced that they had to “get ready” for the WAZOO beer festival held at what was formerly The Lowry Park Zoo.

They were hooked. Mary has quite a collection of awards for her brews, including the title Queen of Beer (QOB) awarded for her “Berliner Weisse with strawberry and rhubarb” at a California homebrew contest for women in 2015.

The consensus of my beer buddies today was that the two dozen-plus brews includes “an eclectic mix of styles–well-made, very clean, perfectly blended. Most visitors to the brewery will have no trouble finding something (or several somethings) they like.”

Of those brews made with real fruit, Richard said (and David agreed), “the fruit is nicely integrated, just so you know it’s there.”

“It’s a great opportunity to do a bunch of tasters and go for it!”

The delightful bartender, Marina, couldn’t have been more solicitous, more attentive, or more pleasant. And I can assure you, my crew kept her busy!

So, if you’re a beer aficionado, or even a casual beer drinker interested in trying new and exciting brews, The Alafia Brewing Company might be just the spot that “hits the spot” for you.

IN THE PHOTO: Owner, Mary Taylor (L), with bartender extraordinaire, Marina.

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!Entertainment, Food, Art, Shopping, and a Health Fair                By Diane M. Loeffler Rain or shine, FallFest will take place on October 16. The day will begin at the gazebo with opening remarks, the flag raising, the...

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the PandemicBy Bob Sanchez The Sun City Center Art Club reopened its Art Gallery to the public on September 1 with the work of two dozen members, featuring paintings they created during the 2020 pandemic. The...

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Don’t miss FallFest on October 16, browse the Art Club’s latest creations, cruise the St. Johns River, sail on the Eagle, hit the target with a local Olympian, commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, discover some great places to...

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

The fruits of The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program labor were realized with the release of five rehabbed sea turtles including two Kemp's Ridley and three greens in North Ormond Beach. After months of specialized and compassionate care,...

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of BeerBy Andrea L.T. Peterson Thanks to a reader recommendation, we discovered the Alafia Brewing Company in Gibsonton. When the Editor asked if I wanted to check it out, I thought: “I’ve been alcohol-free...

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar FactoryBy Bob Sanchez In July, a small group from the Sun City Center Photo Club toured the J. C. Newman Cigar Company to see first-hand how cigars are still made in Ybor City. For the senior rate of $12 per...

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

By Bob Sanchez

In July, a small group from the Sun City Center Photo Club toured the J. C. Newman Cigar Company to see first-hand how cigars are still made in Ybor City. For the senior rate of $12 per person, company historian Holden Rasmussen served as our tour guide for about an hour to show the entire process, both for hand-made and machine-made cigars.

The building is called El Reloj, a three-story, block-long building that dates back to 1895 and is the only remaining cigar factory in Ybor City. There’s nothing modern about the process as workers either hand-roll cigars or operate antique machines that seem to operate as well today as they did a century ago. The main difference is in the workforce – an old photo from the 1920s shows a vast room filled with white men, elbow to elbow at work. What a difference a century makes!

The Newman Company promises that “this historic cigar factory will please cigar enthusiasts, history buffs, and those with interests in manufacturing and technology,” and the tour doesn’t disappoint. Photo Club member Christina Brittain said it was “amazing to witness every facet of production in this living, thriving factory/museum,” adding that the tour is “a truly memorable experience.”

The family-owned company clearly takes pride in its premium cigars and its employees. Rasmussen told us that every worker we saw on the floor has been employed there for around 20 years. Newman also has factories in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Their Cigar Family Charitable Foundation “supports low-income families in the Dominican Republic with education, health care, vocational training, and clean water.”

The cost for the tour is $15 for adults, and $12 for seniors, students, and veterans. All ages are welcome. The guide is knowledgeable, and the old factory is fascinating. By the way, there are elevators for those not inclined to climb stairs.

Visit “jcnewman.com” for their schedule and to book a guided tour.

IN THE TOP PHOTO: J. C. Newman’s company historian Holden Rasmussen talks tobacco with, from left to right, Nick Fader, Barbara Klimczak, Fran Beeson, and Christina Brittain.

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!Entertainment, Food, Art, Shopping, and a Health Fair                By Diane M. Loeffler Rain or shine, FallFest will take place on October 16. The day will begin at the gazebo with opening remarks, the flag raising, the...

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the PandemicBy Bob Sanchez The Sun City Center Art Club reopened its Art Gallery to the public on September 1 with the work of two dozen members, featuring paintings they created during the 2020 pandemic. The...

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Don’t miss FallFest on October 16, browse the Art Club’s latest creations, cruise the St. Johns River, sail on the Eagle, hit the target with a local Olympian, commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, discover some great places to...

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

The fruits of The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program labor were realized with the release of five rehabbed sea turtles including two Kemp's Ridley and three greens in North Ormond Beach. After months of specialized and compassionate care,...

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of BeerBy Andrea L.T. Peterson Thanks to a reader recommendation, we discovered the Alafia Brewing Company in Gibsonton. When the Editor asked if I wanted to check it out, I thought: “I’ve been alcohol-free...

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar FactoryBy Bob Sanchez In July, a small group from the Sun City Center Photo Club toured the J. C. Newman Cigar Company to see first-hand how cigars are still made in Ybor City. For the senior rate of $12 per...

May the Bluebirds of Happiness Nest in Your Yard

May the Bluebirds of Happiness Nest in Your Yard

May the Bluebirds of Happiness Nest in Your Yard

By Andrea L.T. Peterson

It’s been about five years that the Audubon Club of Sun City Center has been aggressively monitoring the area’s bluebird population, which had been steadily declining. Master Naturalist and 12-year Sun City Center resident, Melanie Higgins, explained to me how and why the bluebird population matters and how and why the local Audubon club became involved. Bluebirds, she explained, “are secondary cavity nesters—unlike woodpeckers, for example, they don’t make or find holes in which to build their nests. Over the years, the National Audubon Society approved the design and recommended they be placed at least 300 feet apart with a view to an open field with some trees for cover when the babies fledged. Bluebirds,” she added, “have adapted to using boxes.”

“The club,” she explained, was looking for a way to become more involved in the local community, so they scouted around (pardon the pun) and found a local Eagle Scout group willing to take on the project. The scouts, she told me, “built the boxes. Then the Audubon club put out a call for 20 people who wanted the boxes in their yards. There was a small fee for the boxes (considered a donation to the club).” The hope was that people who spent money on the boxes would be invested in them, that they would help monitor the activity in the boxes, and help the club keep track of the population. It didn’t work out that way.

“While the people were enjoying the birds in their yards, they weren’t monitoring the boxes,” Higgins explained, “so for the first year there was no good data.” The second year, Higgins decided she would monitor the boxes every week herself, tracking nesting, hatching, and fledging numbers. That year, she said, “70 babies fledged.” It seems the primary goals of the Bluebird Box Project to increase awareness of the birds, garner interest in birding, and help increase the bluebird population were being achieved.

My own yard, not an approved space, according to the recommendations, has had success two seasons with bluebirds nesting and sending little ones out into the world! More and more people are seeing bluebirds in their yards or around town for the first time EVER!! It’s pretty exciting to see the spectacular males with their vibrant colors and the no nonsense females protecting and feeding their young.

There are 25 boxes in town now, producing, quite literally, 100-110 fledglings a year. A team of ten monitors the boxes through the summer, keeping track of and recording the numbers of nests, eggs, hatchlings, and presumed fledglings.

According to Higgins, about 30% of the fledglings will survive their first year. One of the greatest hazards, aside from hatchlings too young to fledge, falling out of the nest and becoming “fox food,” Higgins says, is sparrows. An invasive species, not native to the United States, “sparrows literally murder the bluebirds by pecking holes in their heads.”

 “‘The great thing about birding,’” says Higgins, quoting longtime friend and retired National Audubon Ornithologist, Ann Paul, “‘is you can do it any time, any place.’” Our Sun City lakes and ponds and the small islands within some of them provide hours of entertainment and an incredible number of species (ducks and birds) for our viewing pleasure. If you’re housebound you can watch the activity out your windows and enjoy the “sport” without even leaving your bed or your chair!

Take a lesson from the bluebird, whose lifespan is somewhere between six to 10 years: fly when you can, be free, and, says Higgins, “live in the moment!”

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!Entertainment, Food, Art, Shopping, and a Health Fair                By Diane M. Loeffler Rain or shine, FallFest will take place on October 16. The day will begin at the gazebo with opening remarks, the flag raising, the...

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the PandemicBy Bob Sanchez The Sun City Center Art Club reopened its Art Gallery to the public on September 1 with the work of two dozen members, featuring paintings they created during the 2020 pandemic. The...

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Don’t miss FallFest on October 16, browse the Art Club’s latest creations, cruise the St. Johns River, sail on the Eagle, hit the target with a local Olympian, commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, discover some great places to...

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

The fruits of The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program labor were realized with the release of five rehabbed sea turtles including two Kemp's Ridley and three greens in North Ormond Beach. After months of specialized and compassionate care,...

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of BeerBy Andrea L.T. Peterson Thanks to a reader recommendation, we discovered the Alafia Brewing Company in Gibsonton. When the Editor asked if I wanted to check it out, I thought: “I’ve been alcohol-free...

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar FactoryBy Bob Sanchez In July, a small group from the Sun City Center Photo Club toured the J. C. Newman Cigar Company to see first-hand how cigars are still made in Ybor City. For the senior rate of $12 per...

Field Trip to a Tea House

Field Trip to a Tea House

Field Trip to a Tea House

By Diane M. Loeffler

On August 10, four local friends visited the Lavender and Lace Tea Room in Lake Alfred. Andrea Olson and I live in Sun City Center’s Community Association, Annette Rawlinson lives in Kings Point, and Pam Click in the Little Manatee Springs Community in Wimauma.

The ambiance was very much what you would hope to have in a tea house. The decor was lace, flowers, white woodwork, lavender placemats and a view of lovely gardens. The staff was friendly and attentive and the surroundings were beautiful. A charming gift shop was just outside the restaurant. When Christmas is near, a separate holiday shop is open as well.

The menu included 16 types of tea, but it did not offer the scones, clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and little desserts I had come to expect in tea rooms in southwestern Tennessee and northern Mississippi.  On that day, the menu offered eight entrees, two salads, three sandwiches, and seven amazing desserts. For the current menu, visit “lavendernlacetearoom.com or call 863-956-3998. Reservations are recommended.

According to my map program, getting there should take one hour seven minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. However, we took the back roads to go to Lavender and Lace. Our scenic route took longer but we enjoyed seeing the countryside. The address is 30 N. Lake Shore Way, Lake Alfred, Florida. If you would like to dine in a relaxing atmosphere offering tasty homemade foods and desserts while sipping on tea, it is well worth the trip.

IN THE PHOTO: Left to right: Annette Rawlinson (Kings Point), Andrea Olson (SCCCA), Pam Click (Little Manatee Springs, Wimauma) and Diane Loeffler (SCCCA) enjoy an August afternoon at Lavender and Lace.

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!Entertainment, Food, Art, Shopping, and a Health Fair                By Diane M. Loeffler Rain or shine, FallFest will take place on October 16. The day will begin at the gazebo with opening remarks, the flag raising, the...

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the PandemicBy Bob Sanchez The Sun City Center Art Club reopened its Art Gallery to the public on September 1 with the work of two dozen members, featuring paintings they created during the 2020 pandemic. The...

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Don’t miss FallFest on October 16, browse the Art Club’s latest creations, cruise the St. Johns River, sail on the Eagle, hit the target with a local Olympian, commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, discover some great places to...

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

The fruits of The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program labor were realized with the release of five rehabbed sea turtles including two Kemp's Ridley and three greens in North Ormond Beach. After months of specialized and compassionate care,...

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of BeerBy Andrea L.T. Peterson Thanks to a reader recommendation, we discovered the Alafia Brewing Company in Gibsonton. When the Editor asked if I wanted to check it out, I thought: “I’ve been alcohol-free...

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar FactoryBy Bob Sanchez In July, a small group from the Sun City Center Photo Club toured the J. C. Newman Cigar Company to see first-hand how cigars are still made in Ybor City. For the senior rate of $12 per...

Pottery Club Wins Again at State Fair

Pottery Club Wins Again at State Fair

Pottery Club Wins Again at State Fair

By Kai Rambow

“I saw a program on PBS about ugly face jugs and I became inspired,” reflected Terrie McNamara.  “I had also just broken a pot on the kiln and said ‘Oh, my gosh, perfect teeth.’ I wanted to do this as a challenge.”  That personal challenge resulted in a first place ribbon at the state fair.

With something different, a huge jug, Sue Bederka and Jack Libby won a second place ribbon.  It took longer to get the detailing done, than it did to create the big jug.

Impressively detailed work by Michele Miller won her a first and second place ribbon.  “Whimsical is what I love doing.  The fairy house one can put a candle in there,” enthused Miller.

The pottery club has once again competed well. Congratulations to all the winners.

IN THE PHOTO: From left to right, Terrie McNamara, Sue Bederka, and Michele Miller with winning pottery pieces and ribbons.

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!

FallFest October 16: Don’t miss it!Entertainment, Food, Art, Shopping, and a Health Fair                By Diane M. Loeffler Rain or shine, FallFest will take place on October 16. The day will begin at the gazebo with opening remarks, the flag raising, the...

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the Pandemic

Art Club Members Paint Through the PandemicBy Bob Sanchez The Sun City Center Art Club reopened its Art Gallery to the public on September 1 with the work of two dozen members, featuring paintings they created during the 2020 pandemic. The...

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

OCTOBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Don’t miss FallFest on October 16, browse the Art Club’s latest creations, cruise the St. Johns River, sail on the Eagle, hit the target with a local Olympian, commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, discover some great places to...

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

Aquarium Releases Endangered Sea Turtles

The fruits of The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program labor were realized with the release of five rehabbed sea turtles including two Kemp's Ridley and three greens in North Ormond Beach. After months of specialized and compassionate care,...

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of Beer

Alafia Brewing Company and the Queen of BeerBy Andrea L.T. Peterson Thanks to a reader recommendation, we discovered the Alafia Brewing Company in Gibsonton. When the Editor asked if I wanted to check it out, I thought: “I’ve been alcohol-free...

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar Factory

Touring Ybor City’s Last Cigar FactoryBy Bob Sanchez In July, a small group from the Sun City Center Photo Club toured the J. C. Newman Cigar Company to see first-hand how cigars are still made in Ybor City. For the senior rate of $12 per...