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Tampa Bay Community News

Bob Glaser

On April 13th, at precisely 4:56 pm, a flash-mob broke out in New York City’s Time Square. The dancers had an excellent reason for celebrating. They are on their way to Tampa Bay for the Indian International Film Academy Awards. IIFA promises there will be more flash-mobs in other cities as they make their way here. Smith & Associates Real Estate certainly thinks coming to Tampa Bay is something to dance in the streets about.

However, it’s not just flash-mob dancers who are making their way here. Approximately 30,000 tourists are expected to come to Tampa for the event, happening from Wednesday, April 23rd through Saturday, April 26th.

Due to the international appeal of Indian cinema, the IIFA Awards are held in a different location every year. Cities around the world vie to be the cultural powerhouse that hosts the Bollywood Oscars. Tampa is the first city in the United States to be given this honor.

The stars of Indian cinema are heading to Tampa, but India’s influence is already seen in home decor. I find the vibrant colors and symmetrical patterns to be uplifting and calming, and have been thinking about incorporating Indian design into my home decor. Here’s what inspires me:

1 | The parchin kari of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal in Agra India No, I’m not planning to have my home’s spandrels inlaid with carnelians, garnets, or any other gemstones. Instead, I’m looking for a vase, inlaid with colored glass, to let glimmer in the Florida sun that shines through my window.

2| The Madhubani wall painting in the home of Rajshree Pathy

Photo courtesy of Rang Decor |   Madhubani wall painting  by Shivan Paswan

Photo courtesy of Rang Decor |
Madhubani wall painting by Shivan Paswan

While this wall painting is certainly complex, the repeating shapes and patterns keep it from being overwhelming. Something this stimulating would be great in a playroom!

A little about the homeowner: Rajshree Pathy is a businessperson and an art connoisseur. She is the chairperson and managing director of Rajshree Sugars and Chemicals Limited and the founder-director of the Coimbatore Center for Contemporary Art and the Contemplate Art Gallery. As the founder-director of CoCCA, Rajshree Pathy founded the India Design Forum, a nine-day celebration of design in India and its influence on the international design world.

She describes her home as a museum, a resort, and an artist’s retreat.

3 | The craftwork of the people of Pipili


Photo source: Incredible Odisha

Pipili is a town of artists in Odisha, India. They are famous for their brightly colored applique work depicting village scenes, flowers, and animal scenes. My neighbor has a Pipili umbrella for shade on her porch. I’m looking for a piece that will stand out against a dark wall.

What designs and handiworks from India inspire you?

Image credits: Rang Decor, Incredible Odisha


Amy Seeks

Skyline of St. Petersburg, Florida One of Florida’s premier cultural events, the Mainsail Art Festival, is just around the corner. The event celebrates its 39th year, and will take place on Saturday, April 19th from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, April 20th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festivities will be in Vinoy Park, located at Bayshore Drive and 7th Avenue N.E. Downtown’s waterfront provides a magnificent backdrop for any activity, and I’m sure it will do the same for this weekend’s festival.

Tampa Bay is home to a lot of talent! It’s no surprise that many area artists will have pieces on display. Here’s a look at the local artists who will showcase their crafts at the festival:

From Clearwater

  • Sana Doumet (jewelry)
  • Jon Smith  (oil / acrylic)
  • Marlene Rose (sculpture)

From Dunedin

  • Ernest Simmons  (oil / acrylic)

From Gulfport

  • Marius Moore (photography)
  • Nancy Cervenka  (sculpture)

From Largo

  • John Moore (ceramics)
  • Mark DiLeonardo  (sculpture)

From Lutz

  • Harry Welsch  (ceramics)
  • Marie Rice  (oil / acrylic)
  • Hernie Vann  (oil / acrylic)
  • Paul Montecalvo (photography)
  • Karyn Adamek (sculpture)

From  New Port Richey

  • Sandra Brewster (glass)
  • Lee and Sharon Jones (metal)
  • Amy Lennard Gmelin  (sculpture)
  • James Parziale (wood)

From  Oldsmar

  • Erica Hall (graphics)
  • From Pinellas Park
  • Clayton Swartz  (sculpture)

From Safety Harbor

  • John Mascoll (wood)

From  St. Pete Beach

  • David Erdman (sculpture)

From St. Petersburg

  • Chuck Boux (glass)
  • Dennis DeBon (glass)
  • Duncan McClellan (glass)
  • David Walker (glass)
  • Mike Williams (graphics)
  • Vince Pompei (metal)
  • Frank Strunk (metal)
  • Thomas Bauer (oil / acrylic)
  • Margaret Bayalis (oil / acrylic)
  • John Maurer (oil / acrylic)
  • Gaston Petridis (oil / acrylic)
  • Lance Rodgers (oil / acrylic)
  • Antanas Ulevicius (sculpture)
  • Kostas Ulevicius (sculpture)
  • John Bayalis (watercolor)
  • Terry Denson (watercolor)
  • Donald Goodrich (wood)
  • Janet O’Rourke (wood)

From Tampa

  • Michael Braun (digital)
  • Sharon Rose (fiber)
  • Susan Gott (glass)
  • Amy Carstensen (graphics)
  • Jeff Eckert (graphics)
  • David McKirdy (mixed media)
  • Charles Parkhill (sculpture)
  • Sally Cahill (oil / acrylic)

From Tarpon Springs

  • Rocky Bridges (mixed media)

From Wesley Chapel

  • Lamar Fussell (wood)

From Wimauma

  • Don Plumridge (oil / acrylic)

I’m also looking forward to seeing some of Tampa Bay’s younger artists show their talents. Mainsail’s Young at ARt Student Exhibition will feature works of art from Pinellas County students in grades K through 12.

The visual arts aren’t the only that will be represented at the festival. Mimes, musicians, and minstrels will also be a part of the mix.

If you get hungry while you’re at the festival, the Mainsail Art Festival will have plenty of delicious food available in their culinary arts section. Pipo’s Cuban Cafe will be one of the vendors. Their restaurant in South Tampa makes a delicious Cuban sandwich. This weekend, I’ll be enjoying one on the St. Pete waterfront.

Bob Riner

I spend quite a bit of time on the Smith & Associates website looking through the galleries of homes for sale represented by our Tampa Bay real estate agents. Today’s homebuyers begin their searches online, and it’s important for me to see what they are seeing. I don’t simply glance through the photos though. I like to spend time with each, envisioning what life in that picture would be like. During my years working in real estate I’ve found that most people buy a home for what they will do in the space, rather than what’s been done with the structure.

Lately, I’ve been looking at photos of backyards and planning springtime and summertime parties. I’d like to share five of my favorite ideas. If any of these backyards look like places where you’d like to create new memories, click the address in the caption to get in touch with a Smith & Associates Real Estate agent.

1 | If this was my South Tampa garden,

I’d let some of my plants travel in hot air balloons.


Photo courtesy of Ruffled Blog

2 | Speaking of balloons, if this was my spacious dock in Treasure Island,

I’d put out buckets of drinks and use frozen balloons to keep them cool.


Photo courtesy of Stylish Spoon

3 | In a nice, open space such as this backyard in South Tampa,

I’d set up a fun game of outdoor scrabble.


Photo courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

4 | If my backyard had a shady tree and views of sailboat waters like this Old Florida home in St. Petersburg,

I’d  create a photo booth by hanging a frame, setting out fun props, and placing a remote controlled camera on a tripod.


Photo courtesy of Bitter Sweet Cincy

5 | If this was my travertine deck and lushly landscaped backyard in Bayshore Beautiful,

I’d invite my friends and family over for s’mores.


Photo courtesy of Tre Bellaaz

What would you do if you called these spaces home?

Photo credits: Ruffled BlogStylish SpoonBetter Homes & GardensBitter Sweet Cincy, and Tre Bellaaz

Nikki Phillips

Phillip Phillips is the folk-rock singer-songwriter that became a surprise winner of American Idol Season 11. His first single, the smash record “Home,” became a hit almost from the moment he first performed it on the Idol stage. Idol Judge, Jennifer Lopez, fell in love with Phillips’ sultry gaze and uber-cool stage presence early in the elimination rounds, and it didn’t take the rest of the country very long to catch up.

LOS ANGELES - MAY 23:  Phillip Phillips -  Winner of Season 11 A The number two track on Phillips’ debut album, “World from the Side of the Moon,” the song about a beau promising to make this place your home exploded onto the Billboard charts moments after Phillips walked off the Idol stage. The track went triple platinum almost overnight and rocketed up to number 6 on the Billboard charts. Then it crossed an ocean, serving as the theme song for the Summer Olympic games in London.

But did you know the song almost never got released… at least by Phillips.

During the American Idol two-part finale shows, each finalist performs a new song for the audience. Phillips is a noted songwriter, but none of his songs got the nod from the producers. Instead, Interscope Records’ Jimmy Iovine, selected a song co-written by Drew Pearson and Greg Holden. According to reports, the song wasn’t initially written for Phillips, but the writers submitted it for consideration “at the last minute” and requested that Philip perform the song.

Now, you might think that a handpicked song and the advice of music industry powerhouse Iovine would be enough to sway Phillips, but the singer-songwriter has a well-defined independent streak, and, initially admitted he was not all the way on board with the song. He called it too poppy and not his style.

After repeated rehearsals, Phillips said the song grew on him, and he agreed to perform. The rest is Idol – and music – history. Phillips took the Idol stage and blazed through the number, winning legions of fans on the spot and making “Home” one of the most successful Idol winner’s debut tracks ever.

Never one to shy away from messing with success, Phillips has already assured his fans that his later releases will be less pop, and “more interesting.”

Nevertheless, it’s easy to understand what makes “Home” so popular. With a catchy hook and lyrics that are instantly relatable, no matter where we’re from or where we’re going, there’s just something about home that makes you feel good, feel comfortable and feel loved and safe.

Just like home.

Even if it’s a little to poppy at times, home will always be where the heart is, and the place we always want to come back to.

Jane Gowarty

Guitar Player

I love my job. I wake up in the morning excited to get to work, and I go home feeling satisfied with what I have accomplished. One of my favorite aspects of working in real estate is introducing our amazing community to people who have recently relocated to Tampa Bay. When I moved here, I had a lot of fun learning about my amazing new home. Actually, I’m still having a great time discovering Tampa Bay!

This afternoon, I’m meeting a couple, who recently moved here, at Smith & Associates Real Estate’s Beach Drive office. I always have a great time showing off Downtown St Pete’s gorgeous water views and upscale restaurants and shops. There’s always something exciting going on. Today, it’s the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in Vinoy Park.

This event has a great line up of musicians. Five-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Buddy Guy will take the stage tonight at 8:30 pm, and I can’t wait. The man and his guitar are magic. My favorite from his repertoire is Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues, which is funny because working at Smith & Associates Real Estate means I never have the blues!

On Saturday, we’ll be back at Vinoy Park ready for some rock and roll and a lot of soul. The Blind Boys From Alabama will be on stage around 6:30 pm. I became a fan of this gospel group when I heard them on Peter Gabriel’s song Sky Blue. I’d love to hear them cover that song on Saturday. It would be appropriate since Gabriel was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The blues will continue to play the next day, but my new friends and I have even better plans. We’ll be checking out the open houses hosted by Smith & Associates Real Estate agents. They want a waterfront home with 3 bedrooms. I can’t wait to show them this one in St. Pete’s Broadwater neighborhood:

4400-38th-Way-South-St-Petersburg-FL 4400 38th Way South, St Petersburg

In short, my plans for the weekend are getting to know new friends better while enjoying great live music on the waterfront, and helping them find a home in Tampa Bay.

I began this post by saying I love my job. That should have been I love my life!

Amy Seeks

Open House. The words, particularly for sellers still living in their property, can feel ominous, the thought of the process nerve-wracking. But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, hosting an open house can be a tricky business, but with the right real estate professional, your showcase event can be a fun, stress-free and successful endeavor. Since our company-wide Open House event is just a few days away, here are a few tips for sellers looking to open their home to potential buyers:

#1 | Your house must become your showroom

Family Outside Their New House

You will never find a Billy Bass or a huge family photo collage on the wall in Architectural Digest. There’s a reason. When people picture their ideal home, they imagine the best interpretation of their stuff in the space. Their stuff. If you fill your home with personal items it will be counterproductive to a successful open house. Your home should look open, and above all else, the environment should be neutral. Think about every model home you have ever visited. There are themes in each room, but they are never too personal.

#2 | Plan to be somewhere else

One of the best benefits of having an amazing Tampa Bay real estate agent is being able to distance yourself from the somewhat emotional issue of selling your property. While your trusted real estate professional manages your open house, you need to get scarce. This will allow your buyer prospects to ask all the questions they want to ask and make it easier for your agent to answer them openly and in confidence.

#3 | Take your pets with you

When preparing for an open house, be sure to remove your pets, as well as their toys, food dishes, beds and litter boxes. Beyond the potential for allergies, some people just don’t feel the same way you do about your pets. They may have less of a tolerance for pet hair or litter boxes. Even a clean box can “smell like pee” to someone unaccustomed to having pets. You don’t want to lose their business because of your furry friend’s business.

#4 | Small details you don’t want to forget

  1. Pull the blinds and drapes back (or up) to let more light into the house.
  2. Make sure all the toilet lids are closed and that the space behind them is sparkly clean.
  3. If you do have pets, check the yard for little “gifts.”
  4. And it can be a good idea to get most or all of the area rugs off the floor. If your floors are in good shape you want your potential buyers to get a good look at them.

#5 | Recruit the neighbors

If you are moving you can bet your neighbors are interested in who will be taking your house. They can be scouts or can help “fill” the open house to make your prospects more eager to make an offer. Plus, if they know of anyone looking for a place, you can bet they will tell all their friends about the party. So, invite your neighbors to the open house, even if you won’t be there. It will give a chance for everyone to get more comfortable even before a contract is signed.

If there anything else you do before an open house? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Mary Lou Gordon

Spring has sprung, the days are warmer and the first wildflowers are blooming outside. It’s time to throw open the window, let some fresh air in and get your house feeling fresh and clean.

Housewife holding bucket with cleaning equipment on bright backg #1 | Organize your closets

We often save it for last, but experts tell us that the first step to organizing your home is an organized closet space. Go through your clothes and make spring and summer outfits. If you won’t wear it for the next four to six months, stick it in storage. If you haven’t worn it in a year or two, best to just donate those clothes to someone who will enjoy them. Not only will you make someone else happy, but you will also save yourself time every day.

#2 | Clean walls and trim

One of the easiest ways to make an immediate impact in your home is to clean the walls, door trim, crown molding and baseboards. But you have to be careful cleaning painted surfaces, particularly flat or eggshell finishes. Go over everything first with a clean, dry cloth. Wipe off any loose dirt, dust or grime. Then make a second pass with a damp cloth or sponge. For tough stains, mix in a bit of dish washing liquid. Be careful not to use strong cleaning products or abrasives that will wear on the paint.

#3 | Sort your shelves

Whether you are talking about bookshelves, cabinets or pantries, it’s easy for our shelves to get overstuffed, cluttered and disorganized. Getting everything organized can make a huge difference in how your home “lives” and how you feel in it. First, take all your books off a shelf and organize them by category or author – your choice. Look at each book. If you can’t see you or someone else in your family reading it again, put it in the donate pile. Then get into the kitchen and pull everything out of the cabinets. Give your pots and pans a wash and put the ones you actually use back in the easiest to access cabinets. Put the pots and other serving dishes you rarely use in the hardest to reach areas.

#4 | Get your tile squeaky clean

For most tile surfaces you don’t need a fancy cleaner. A baking soda and water solution will work just fine. Pour half a cup of baking soda into two gallons of water and mix well. Then grab a mob and scrub those floors. Believe it or not, if you keep up with regular cleanings, you can even use the same gentle mixture to clean the grout!

#5 | Get stains off the stainless

Anyone who has ever enjoyed the beauty and elegance of stainless steel appliances understands that “stainless” doesn’t exactly mean, literally, stainless. Stainless steel appliances can pick up fingerprints and water spots like “magic.” To keep your stainless surfaces looking their best, use a light mist of a wax-based aerosol. After application, wipe the excess clean with a lint free cloth. Make sure it’s lint-free or you will be cleaning up your cleaning up. Finally, keep any bleach-based or abrasive products away from your stainless steel appliances.

Then, with a slightly damp cloth, wipe down your light fixtures, fans, stairs railings and, yes, you should “do” your windows. Then flop down on the couch, lay your head back and breathe in that fresh, clean spring air and enjoy your favorite beverage to celebrate a job well done.

Dave Traynor

There’s a reason people come from all over the world to enjoy all the fun to be found in the Tampa Bay area, but if you are new here or you are considering a move, you don’t want to live like a tourist. You want to party like a local. We talked about St. Pete’s nightlife last week, so now we have a list of four top Tampa nightspots you definitely need to try.

Downtown Tampa Florida Skyline at Night JACKSON’S | Best club with a view

Jackson’s Bistro is, without doubt, one of the coolest places to party in all of Tampa Bay. South Tampa panache and a Carnival atmosphere in the exclusive venue of Harbour Island. The décor makes the bar feel like a classic tavern…until you catch a glimpse of the waterfront view through the floor-to-ceiling windows. On the weekends, promoters kick off a wild party that includes dancers, stilt walkers and flame jugglers. Find Jackson’s at 601 S Harbour Island Blvd. and online at

CLUB PRANA | Historic and eclectic

Centro Ybor may be the center of attention during the day, but when the sun sets on Tampa, the party kicks off a Club Prana. Explore five levels of fun, balconies overlooking 7th Avenue and a rooftop bar that offers one of the best Margaritas With A View in all of Tampa Bay. The first floor Lounge – all satin, steel and red carpet elegance – is the perfect place to kick back and cut loose after work. The Mezzanine level is the VIP spot for people watching. One floor up, The Sanctuary is flush with plush velvet, candlelight and a massive saltwater aquarium. The Night Club level offers hot music, live DJs and a sizzling live stage show. Prana is located at 1619 E 7th Avenue and online at

FOUR GREEN FIELDS | Get yer Irish on!

Authentic? Well, a major Dublin-based travel magazine named Four Green Fields one of the ten best Irish pubs on the planet. Bottom line, the signature thatched roof is definitely not for show. This place is as Irish as Tampa gets. No TVs, cozy seating set up for conversation and a killer live music lineup. Mostly local and regional acts, but The Corrs and Tommy Makem have played here. Sinead O’Connor too. Find “Fields” at 205 W Platt Street or online at

THE TINY TAP | Delightful neighborhood dive

The Tiny Tap Tavern is Tampa’s ultimate corner bar. Rumored to be a former speakeasy, the pub can definitely trace its history back to the days of Prohibition. And, while local history buffs can’t get enough of the nostalgia, the real reason to swing by the Tiny Tap is to enjoy cheap brews and the true, not prefab neighborhood bar feel. Best of all, the Tiny Tap is located in the tony South Tampa neighborhood of SoHo, so Tiny Tap has that guilty pleasure groove to go along with its dive bar vibe. Find it at 2105 W Morrison Avenue in Tampa.

There you have it, four of the best local party spots in Tampa. What are some of your favorite places to grab a drink?

Jane Gowarty

Ask a potential homebuyer what three rooms matter most in a property for sale, and you’ll likely be told the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom. The importance of making these three rooms feel fresh and inviting cannot be emphasized enough. Today however, I’d like to talk about another part of your home that make or break a sale – the entryway.

Sophie Allsopp, who worked as an estate agent and as a relocation agent in London before becoming a presenter for HGTV, says, “Most buyers decide if they want to buy a house within the first 90 seconds.” Take a minute and a half, or 90 seconds, to think about that. It’s not a lot of time, but it is enough time for buyers to assess how your home makes them feel, and if it seems properly cared for.

Staging your entryway communicates the feelings you want potential buyers to have as they walk through your home.

Quick bit of expert real estate advice: Decorating is about creating a home that fits your lifestyle. Staging is about getting potential buyers to see your home for sale as fitting the lifestyle they want to live.

It’s good to take a look at what other people are doing right. Here are the entryways  of two homes listed by Smith & Associates Real Estate agents:

porch-hyde-park-home-for-sale 825 South Delaware Avenue, Tampa

The Wall Street Journal chose this remodeled bungalow in Historic Hyde Park as a “Home Run Home” because there is so much to love. For now, let’s talk about that gorgeous front porch! The sellers highlighted this feature with rockers and a porch swing. By adding three pieces of furniture, they’ve made it easy for potential homebuyers to picture catching up with loved ones on balmy evenings.

entryway-bayshore-blvd-home-for-sale 6220 Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa

When buyers step inside your home for sale, you want to capture their attention and give them an idea of what to expect from the rest of the house. In this entryway, Todd White’s Someone’s Pretty Baby juxtaposed with an 18th century lowboy immediately speaks of the playful elegance found throughout the rest of this home.

Both homes for sale are clean and freshly painted. Yours should share these traits. A house that is cared for is a home worth caring about.

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Nikki Phillips

When I was very young, one of my favorite things to do at the beach was to walk along the shore and look for sand castles built by my fellow beach goers. When I found one, I would imagine what it would be like to live inside its sandy walls.

It’s no wonder I grew up to work for Smith & Associates Real Estate. I’ve always had a passion for beach homes! Now, rather than imagining what life inside a sand castle is like, I help other people find their castles in Tampa Bay. After all, your home is your castle!

I still enjoy finding well-built sandcastles along the shores of our beautiful Tampa Bay beaches. I’ve also discovered that sand sculptures aren’t limited to fortresses, towers and palaces.

A sand sculpture can turn a beach into a luxury bedroom.


Image credit: Team Sandtastic

Team Sandtastic created this impressive sand sculpture for one of their many events.

April 4th through the 13th, you can see their art-work in person at the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival’s premier event, the Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit. The theme this year is Beach Walk of Fame. Team Sandtastic’s sculptures will feature characters and scenes from movies we know and love. My fingers are crossed that they create one for Winter, Clearwater’s aquatic star of the Dolphin Tale movies.

Speaking of Dolphin Tale, it will be shown on April 6th as part of the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival’s Ten Nights of Movies. The other movies to be shown are:

  • The Little Mermaid on April 4th
  • Fast & Furious 6 on April 5th
  • Jurassic Park on April 7th
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II on April 8th
  • E.T. the Extra Terrestrial on April 9th
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars on April 10
  • Finding Nemo on April 11th
  • Back to the Future on April 12th
  • Jaws on April 13th

Movies will start at dusk, which is approximately at 8 pm.

Maybe these showings are hints at what we can expect from Team Sandtastic!

If you get the urge to try sand sculpting, Team Sandtastic’s Master Sand Sculptors will be on site each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the Festival. You’ll learn their tricks of the trade and create art while playing in the sand. The times for the Sand Sculpting Clinics can be found on the Festival’s calendar page.

There’s a lot more fun to be had at the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival. Be sure and look over their website for all the details.

Pier 60 is located in Clearwater at 1 Causeway Blvd.

All sand sculptures & photographs by Team Sandtastic.

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