Trop-Rockin’ with Balmy Palms

Palm TreesBorder

Balmy, breezy palms are my photo obsession.

You don’t have to read very many of my posts to figure out what an island girl I am.  I mean, really, I named my blog “Somewhere in the Sand.”  How much more of a clue do you need? Give me a swaying hammock, a shady palm tree and some nice, soft sand beneath my (bare) feet and I’m all set.

You’ll probably also notice what a big Jimmy Buffett fan I am (islands … Buffett … palm trees and soft sand … I’m noticing a pattern here).  The sound of steel drums and island tunes is, well, music to my ears.

Besides being a writer and promoter of prose, I’ve always had a secret desire to be a songwriter…not necessarily a singer, per se.  I’ve been told by my wise nine-year-old that I was not “made for singing” so we will just leave it at that.  But the writing, now that would interest me.

That brings me to the topic of this post (you’ll also notice I can be a bit long-winded…).  I just received a very cool press release from the tropical lifestyle brand Balmy Palms.  If you’ve never heard of them, you should really check them out.  They’re right here on the good old world wide web-o-sphere at BalmyPalms.com.

The "pop of trop rock" Jimmy Buffett - Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Virginia, 2010

The “pop of trop rock” Jimmy Buffett – Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Virginia, 2010

The fine folks at Balmy Palms are on the search for an original trop-rock song to represent the brand on its website, radio and other media outlets.  Balmy Palms is inviting up-and-coming singers/songwriters to submit an original song for consideration.  The ideal song will give off the laid-back image of a stress-free island lifestyle as well as the company’s tagline “No worries, no qualms … just Balmy Palms.”  They want to put listeners into a “Balmy Palms state of mind.”  Hey, I like that philosophy.

With roots in the ‘60s, trop rock, or tropical rock, is a blend of country, Caribbean, reggae and rock with the use of island instruments and tropical themes.  Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson, the Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney (all favorites of mine) are a few of the big-time trop rock crossover artists.  Buffett is often called the “pop of trop rock.”  Other trop rock singers/songwriters include John Frinzi, Sunny Jim White, Dave McKenney and Keith Sykes, as well as the Jimmy Buffett tribute band, A1A.

The selected song will receive airplay on the trop rock internet radio station, BeachFront Radio.  BeachFront Radio has won the number one “Trop Rock Station of the Year” title several times at the annual Trop Rock Music Awards.  I have recently started listening to BeachFront Radio and it is quite good.  I go back and forth between it and Radio Margaritaville.

In addition to radio play, the artist of the winning song will receive $400 and select Balmy Palms apparel.  They will also receive publicity by way of the Balmy Palms website and press releases.

Balmy Palms plans to enlist the public’s help in the song selection process (Yippeee!), but the final selection will be made by the staff at Stratosphere Media Group, along with input from the DJs at BeachFront Radio.  Even if a song is not selected, this is an excellent opportunity for exposure (radio exposure that is, not…other kinds of exposure), as all of the songs will be listened to and considered for eligibility.

Kara Benson, Balmy Palms Marketing Director, says

“This is a great opportunity for an aspiring musician to receive valuable publicity for his/her talents.”

All music and lyrics must be original as well as written and performed by the submitting artist.  Songs must be submitted in an MP3 audio file format, and be ready for radio play.  The date for songs to be submitted in the Balmy Palms songwriting contest is June 30, 2013.  Submissions can be made at BalmyPalms.com.

Please visit BalmyPalms.com for a complete list of rules and regulations.  I wouldn’t want to waste any virtual ink by posting them all here since you have to hop on over there anyway.

So, all of you talented trop rockers out there, pull out those steel drums, congas and marimbas and get the inspiration rolling.  I’m expecting some great things.

BalmyPalmsLogo

Photo: Balmy Palms

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Ben & Jerry Go Greek

It's all Greek to me.

It’s all Greek to me.

From the cute cow (who doesn’t love a cute cow?) to the creative use of flavor names like Chubby Hubby, Imagine Whirled Peace, Phish Food, Chunky Monkey, Coffee Caramel Buzz and Karamel Sutra, and those dedicated to celebrities such as Jerry Garcia (Cherry Garcia), Jimmy Fallon (Late Night Snack) and Stephen Colbert (Americone Dream), Ben and Jerry’s always manages to stay at the top of the frozen treat counter.

My first foray into the world of Ben & Jerry’s was their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  The forbidden goodness of cookie dough mixed with cream, milk and sugar was one of  the best things to ever grace a spoon.  My tastebuds have never been the same.  Nor has my waistline, which is what brings me to this posting.  Well, not my actual waistline…that would be weird….you know what I mean.

In addition to their world-famous (and waistline-widening – let’s face it, nothing that good can be calorie-free) ice creams, Ben & Jerry’s also has a nice selection of sorbets, no-sugar-added and frozen yogurt products.

The latest endeavor involves delving into the world of frozen Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt seems to be everywhere lately.  Ben and Jerry’s has taken the newest cool kid in town and given it a tasty spin with the addition of pineapple, lemon, passionfruit, blueberry and other yum-a-licious flavors.

Ben & Jerry's new line of frozen Greek yogurt.

Ben & Jerry’s new line of Greek frozen yogurt.

There are a few other flavors besides the ones pictured above but, as I said, I was thinking of my waistline when making my purchases.

Liz Lemon is a swirl of blueberries and lavender swimming through a sea of lemon frozen yogurt.  Lemon is one of my most favorite flavors, and smells, in the entire world and I really thought I would love this creation.  The lemon frozen yogurt is quite light in taste, not at all tart and citrus-y as I expected.  The blueberries and lavender are also on the subtle side.  Don’t get me wrong, it is very good but I can’t say that it is my favorite.

The flavor, named for Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” character, actually debuted at a party the night of the “30 Rock” finale.  Proceeds from the sale of Liz Lemon frozen yogurt go to an organization near and dear to Tina Fey, Jumpstart.  Jumpstart is an early education organization that helps kids in low-income areas to develop language and literary skills needed for school.  They train college students and community members to work with the preschool kids to help develop these much-needed skills.

Strawberry Shortcake is right on track with what I expected.  The strawberry flavor is subtle and the small pieces of berries and shortcake pieces sprinkled throughout are fabulous.  I think the shortcake pieces are my favorite.

BenJerryCloseup

Pineapple Passionfruit

Pineapple Passionfruit is a pleasing package of pineapple frozen Greek yogurt with perfectly placed pineapple pieces and delicious swirls of passionfruit.  Tropical in taste, it sends a burst of passionfruit to the palate while mixing in just a hint of pineapple.  If you haven’t already guessed, Pineapple Passionfruit is my favorite.  I also like alliteration.

Ben & Jerry’s frozen Greek yogurt selections weigh in at under five grams of fat and under three grams of saturated fat per one half cup serving.  They are all smooth, creamy and ahhhhh-inducing.

Besides the taste of their super yummy flavors, Ben & Jerry’s has a strong stake in environmental and global issues.  Ben & Jerry’s uses milk and cream from family farmers who do not treat their bovine employees with rBGH.  The company uses fairtrade sugar and vanilla and is working on being able to acquire other ingredients in a fairtrade manner.  Go Ben and Jerry.  And cows.

I think I’ve strayed from my original reason for writing this review/post (so what else is new?).  Basically, I think I was trying to say that frozen Greek yogurt could be a bit less pound-inducing than a regular scoop of ice cream.  And Ben & Jerry’s has it.  And it’s really good.  Yeah, that’s about it.

I’m proud to say that I’ve actually been to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont.  It was super cool.  And equally yummy.

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It’s All in the Bag

I have a confession to make.  I’m a bit of a bag lady.  No, not that kind.  I mean literally, bags. As in those fabric-covered treasure chests in which to stuff all of the various junk deeply important items that I think know I will need at any given time.  Not one for shoe shopping (that alone keeps the spouse happy), I can’t resist scooping up the latest pretty print in the form of a beach bag, travel tote, shoulder bag or cute cosmetic case.

Of course, I have my go-to bag for quick trips to the pool or water park, and ones for longer beach trips, but there is always room in the bag basket for at least one or two (or three or four) more.  This is my current go-to beach bag, just throw a few things in and you’re ready to go.  Of course, I also have one with multiple pockets and a gigantic interior for towels, goggles, cover-ups and such but this one is tried and true.

This is my current all-around go everywhere type of bag.  You can't go wrong with Margaritaville.

You can’t go wrong with Margaritaville.

Given that I also have a big, and I’m talking BIG, theme park obsession, this latest round of bags I’ve discovered is now at the top of my “must acquire” list.

The Dooney & Bourke company was one of the first to get in on the Walt Disney bandwagon  with their well-known name, high-quality materials and pricey price tag.  Dooney certainly does Disney well.  Take a look.

Dooney does Disney well.

Dooney & Bourke wristlet
Photo: ©Dooney & Bourke

DooneyToteMickeyDisney

Dooney & Bourke Mickey tote
Photo: ©Dooney & Bourke

I especially love this design and bag style.

DooneySatchelCreamDisney

Dooney & Bourke Disney satchel
©Dooney & Bourke

This cute letter carrier bag is tied as a favorite, as well.

DooneyLetterCarrierBagChipDaleDisney

Dooney & Bourke Disney letter carrier bag
©Dooney & Bourke

Being the paranoic that I am, I don’t know if I would trust myself to spend a day at the theme park carrying around one of those super cool, but super pricey, Dooney bags.  Water rides, slippery snacks and the chance of rain would all but have me worrying more about protecting the bag than having fun in the World (or Land as the case may be).  I would probably reserve it for a special occasion.  That being said, there is another great looking bag in town that I am currently drooling over.

Lesportsac has a very happy version of Disney in their “Small World” collection.  Based upon the classic ride and the artwork of Mary Blair, the patterns are taken from the various countries, or rooms, of the ride and feature colorful scenes and ride icons.  It’s a Small World is my favorite ride/attraction at Walt Disney World (Yes, really, it’s my ring tone.  Don’t judge), so I am particularly fond of these bags, which are a bit lower priced than the Dooney ones.

Photo: ©Lesportsac

Lesportsac Well Wishes bag
Photo: ©Lesportsac

Well Wishes is based upon the Holland room.  Happy young ladies peer out from pretty pink and pastel toned fabrics.

LeSportsacWellWishesCharmTote

Lesportsac Well Wishes tote
Photo: ©Lesportsac

I am actually torn between the girly pink pattern above and the one below.  I really like the iconic buildings and architectural elements depicted on the tote below.  I can definitely see myself using this as a beach bag or carry-on for books, sunscreen, snacks and what-not.

Lesportsac See the World totePhoto: ©Lesportsac

Lesportsac See the World tote
Photo: ©Lesportsac

The Fancy That pattern is from the England room of Small World.  The pattern features famous English icons and scenes.

LesportsacFancyThatBigDisney

Lesportsac Fancy That bag
Photo: ©Disney/Lesportsac

I love this bright, colorful Moroccan Sun pattern. It is, however, from the summer 2012 collection and is most likely not easy to find.  I just had to include it though.  You can also get an idea of what the backpack models look like.

LesportsacBackPackMorrocanSunDisney

Lesportsac Morroccan Sun backpack
Photo: ©Disney/Lesportsac

There is even a Lesportsac Small World diaper bag for the well-traveled baby and mom.

LesportsacBabyBagWondrousJourneyDisney

Lesportsac Wondrous Journey baby bag
Photo: ©Disney/Lesportsac

There is a great review of the Lesportsac Small World bags at Onezumiverse.com.  Check it out.

Next up is the big bag announcement of the week.  This was all the rage in my Facebook news feed the other day.  Yeah, I subscribe to a lot of Disney blogs, sites and pages.  It’s a weakness.  Now, without further ado….

It is none other than Vera Bradley, the queen of the widely popular and equally beautiful quilted bag.  Disney and Vera have joined forces, and these fabric designs will eventually be found in the form of the usual selection of Vera Bradley bags, totes, pouches and cosmetic cases.

Photo: ©Vera Bradley

Disney and Vera Bradley team up to bring a bit of the World to the quilted bag.
Photo: ©Vera Bradley

Here is a close-up of the pattern.  I wish they had done more of a “Hidden Mickey” type of design with the pattern, but that is just my opinion.  The colors are great and I can’t wait to see the completed product.

Pink design:Black design: Midnight with MickeyPhoto: ©Vera Bradley

Pink design: Just Mousing Around
Black design: Midnight with Mickey
Photo: ©Vera Bradley

Visit the Disney Park’s blog for more detailed information on the Vera Bradley Disney bag, which will debut this fall at Disney parks and will eventually be sold online.  I have not seen any information on price point but I’m thinking that they will be along the lines of the current Vera Bradley items.

That is my roundup of Disney-themed bags.  Please let me know if you know of any that I have missed, including non-Disney characters and patterns.  I’m always on the look-out for a useful and great looking bag.

Carry on.

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Hoofprints in the Sand

I’ve always been a horse girl.  Posters, figurines and Black Beauty books surrounded me as a child, preteen and beyond.  While I don’t decorate my walls and shelves with equine icons anymore, I do still have an affinity for a soft mane and a friendly whinny.

Hi there.

Hi there.

When I can combine my love of horses with the sand and surf of the beach, that is just an added bonus.  We’ve ridden horses on the beach, or close to the beach, in Bermuda.  That was an awesome experience and, until recently, I’ve never seen beach horseback riding offered in less tropical locales.  Now, though, you don’t have to go all exotic to ride horses on the beach. From October through Memorial Day, Virginia Beach Horseback offers the uber-cool equine adventure of horseback riding along the sandy strand of Virginia Beach.

Giddy up.

Giddy up.

HorsesVABeach

Hoofprints in the sand.

This is a great activity even for a beginner.  No experience is necessary and the operators give helpful tips on riding.  My eight-year-old has never ridden a horse by herself and she looked like a pro.  These horses are super gentle and practically walk themselves.  They even know at which point to turn around and head back to the corral.  Horses gotta eat too, ya know.  They know what’s important.

A horse girl in the making.

A horse girl in the making.

Once a horse girl, always a horse girl.

Once a horse girl, always a horse girl.

Hello.  Nice to meet you.

Hello. Nice to meet you.

The corral is usually set up somewhere around 31st street.  Just look for the King Neptune statue.  You can’t miss it.  If you do, you probably shouldn’t be riding a horse.

King Neptune

King Neptune

It’s a good idea to call ahead to check on their exact whereabouts.  If there is a festival or special event going on, they may be set up at another location.  For example, I was there last year during spring break and the horses were around 27th street, but last week there was a lot of dredging and such going on in that area and the horses were at 31st street.

Reservations are not necessary, but are suggested.  When we were there during spring break, we just managed to get a spot before they filled up.  We’re not real up on the thinking ahead.

HorsesCorral

Virginia Beach Horseback.

Virginia Beach Horseback has been in operation since 2006.  They offer half-hour and hour rides.  Special occasion rides, proposals and wedding packages are also available.  During the summer beach season, when it’s way too crowded for beach back riding, they offer trail rides.

According to the website, Virginia Beach Horseback will soon be offering an experience where you can ride while the horses swim through the water.  Now, how cool is that?

I’ve compiled a list of a couple of other locations that offer horseback riding on the beach.  I’m hoping to get the chance to try out some more of them.  Let me know if you’ve been to any of these, or if you know of any that I’ve missed.  I would love to add on to the list.  Have fun and hang on!

Horseback riding on the beach venues:

Where's my carrot?

Where’s my carrot?

Another bonus of off-season beach excursions is the abundance of seaglass.  My up and coming horse girl is an expert seaglass searcher.

SeaGlass

Seaglass

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Standing up to Paddleboarding

Sound-side at Kitty Hawk Watersports.

A while back, I was pondering the art of stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP to those in the know.  Watching those who glide seemingly effortlessly through the water while standing atop a sturdy, floating board just made me want to give it a try.  Since I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to adventurous stuff, I decided to test my stamina with something that seemed fairly safe and peaceful.  Goodness knows, the word “peaceful” doesn’t often come up in the world of outdoor sports.

The Sound behind Kitty Hawk Watersports and Miller’s Restaurant.

Kitty Hawk Watersports, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, sits on the Sound side next to Miller’s Restaurant (which is a-may-zing, just so you know) and offers a great spot to practice and try something new.  Plus, they have these awesome water bumper boats that the husband and child took advantage of while I was enjoying my SUP experience.

The art scene at Kitty Hawk Watersports.

I decided that I did not need an actual lesson.  For once, that turned out to be a good call because the employee that helped me did a really good job of explaining the basics.  Now, for more advanced techniques, I would recommend a lesson or two.  But to just start out, it’s kind of nice to just “wing it.”

Practicing kiteboarding skills.

I discovered that paddleboarding is both easier and harder than I imagined.  Balance was my worry (I can trip over air).  Turns out there was nothing to worry about in that department.  Those boards are really wide and very sturdy.  If you can stand up, you can stand up on a paddleboard.

Now, the hard part was to be found in the rowing.  Yes, rowing.  As in with a paddle (hence the name, paddleboarding).  Let’s just say I am more spaghetti arms than rower’s arms.  I did not do too bad, if I do say so myself.  Which I do, as there is nobody to dispute my claims.  But boy were my arms tired.

If you’re wondering why there are no photos of myself actually on a paddleboard, remember that my traveling companions were soaking themselves on the water bumper boats.  They have their priorities.

Jet ski rentals at Kitty Hawk Watersports.

Far-Out and Fab on Florida’s Gulf Coast – Frenchy’s Oasis Motel

Groovy, cool, neat-o and any other ‘60s saying you might surmise aptly describe the space that makes up Frenchy’s Oasis Motel.  A classic motor lodge with a courtyard-style pool and back “yard” marina, Frenchy’s is located just a walk away … Continue reading

Bicycles, Bonfires and a Trip Around the Sun

…I’m just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning / And it’s good to know it’s out of my control / If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living / Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go…

This is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite songs, which just so happens to be sung by two of my favorite people.  If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ll already know that one of those people is the baron of the beach himself, Jimmy Buffett.  The other one owns one of the sweetest and most powerful (have you heard “Whatever You Say?”) voices in country music, Martina McBride.

Here’s the video.  I love the bicycles and bonfire on the beach.

“Trip Around the Sun”

I’m celebrating my own trip around the sun today.  That would be a birthday in case you weren’t paying attention in science class.  I know I wasn’t so it’s nice to have Buffett and McBride remind me.  And maybe it wasn’t science class…astronomy?  See, what did I tell you?

I also won’t be mentioning exactly how many trips it has been.  Some things can be left to the imagination.

Reflection, revelation and the making of resolutions seem to be the “grown-up,” things to do on a  birthday but, like the song says, I prefer to “just enjoy this ride.”

If I must have a goal of some sort for the coming year, I’ll just say that I resolve to do more bicycle riding, attend more bonfires and go on a diet eat less s’mores.  It’s all about the little things.

My Mission to Margaritaville

The baron of beach bums, Jimmy Buffett, in concert at Bristow, Virginia – Jiffy Lube Live.

Once upon a time, I sold t-shirts for Jimmy Buffett.  We workers in the Merchandise department at Kings Dominion were responsible for that type of thing at concerts…. that little stand where consenting consumers happily hand over their cash to purchase t-shirts, decals, buttons, hats, etc…etc…

As a seventeen-year-old, it was a pretty cool deal to be able to listen to a free concert while selling souvenirs to Parrot Heads.  Since I was not born under a rock, I was familiar with the Buffett brand but didn’t really know much about his music past “Margaritaville.”

Once the feeding frenzy that is the merchandise stand settles down, a form of magic takes over.  As the heat of the day subsides, the lights dim and dusk settles in, it’s just the roar of the crowd and the sound of the song.  I’ve been a fan ever since.

That’s my Parrot Head indoctrination story and I’m proud of it.  Ironically enough, the term “Parrot Head” originated at Kings Dominion’s sister park, Kings Island, in Cincinnati, Ohio.  You can even read about it by clicking right here.

I’m on a mission to visit every Margaritaville Café in every state, island or province where there is one.  I’ve been to Key West (the original and, so far, my favorite), Orlando, and Myrtle Beach but have quite a ways to go.  At the rate Jimmy is going at developing new ones – including a hotel in Pensacola and the casinos in Las Vegas and Biloxi (can’t leave them out) – it may take a while to get to all of them.  I have patience.  I am on island time, after all.

The original Margaritaville – Key West, Florida

CityWalk at Universal Orlando features a bunch of famous name restaurants, including Emeril’s, Bob Marley’s, Bubba Gump and Margaritaville.  We are big fans of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and always make it a special point to make a stop at Margaritaville.  It is my mecca in the  middle of MCO.  That would be Orlando, in case you didn’t know.

Margaritaville Orlando at Universal’s CityWalk features the Lone Palm bar and a giant replica of Jimmy’s plane, The Hemisphere Dancer.

More Margaritaville Orlando.

The Myrtle Beach branch of M’Ville is located at Broadway at the Beach and has a really cool ship and lighthouse exterior.

Margaritaville Myrtle Beach at Broadway at the Beach, South Carolina

And the interior….

Interior view at Margaritaville Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

As a writer, I’ve gotten the opportunity to write about several Margaritaville products and partnerships, including LandShark and Ocean Conservancy’s Fin-tastic beach cleanup tour, Parrot Head sun care products, the opening of the Biloxi Margaritaville Restaurant and Casino, as well as many other Margaritaville restaurant news and events.  I hope to have many more.

Tequila, LandShark and mixers aside, I’m a big fan of M’Ville products.  I’ve recently acquired the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker (Bahamas version) and am hooked on it.  A regular blender has nothing on this baby.  Oh, and I don’t go anywhere without my M’Ville sunglasses.  Best ever.  Now I just need to check out that Parrot Head sun care and I’ll be set.  “Watchin’ the sun bake…..”

Fins Up!

Bridges

I love bridges.  As long as they’re over water.  And the water beneath isn’t troubled.  Here are some of my favorites.

Bonner Bridge to Pea Island and Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Bonner Bridge stretches for more than 15 miles across Oregon Inlet and passes wetlands, marine wildlife sanctuaries and long stretches of beautiful beach.  It connects the mainland of Nags Head to Pea Island Nature Reserve and Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Washington Baum Bridge

Washington Baum Bridge connects Nags Head, NC with Manteo, NC in the Outer Banks.

Seven Mile Bridge - Florida Keys - Flickr CC license/Milan Boers

Seven Mile Bridge flows through the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico as it transports passengers to the tranquility of the Floridas Keys and Key West.  When it was completed in 1982, it was the longest segmented bridge in the world.

Old section of Seven Mile Bridge

An always interesting image….an old section of Seven Mile Bridge.  It’s no longer in use.

The Courtney Campbell Causeway - Tampa, Florida

The Courtney Campbell Causeway - Tampa, Florida

The Courtney Campbell Causeway has to be my most favorite bridge.  It stretches across Tampa Bay all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Running at water level, with a couple of elevated areas for watercraft, it’s lined by palm trees and surrounded by the beautiful blue water of Tampa Bay.  There are several beach access spots and places where motorists can pull over and enjoy the bay.  There are walking, biking and nature trails – including the Tampa Bay estuary and several protected wildlife area.

Courtney Campbell Causeway - Tampa, Florida

Palm trees line the Courtney Campbell Causeway - Tampa, Florida