The Sky is Not the Limit

Originally posted as the Publisher’s Letter in our January/February 2015 Outdoors & Sports edition of Times of the Islands

By Daniela E. Jaeger

Is it just me, or did 2014 make an exit with amazing speed? It’s hard to imagine that 2015 is already here and we have a clean slate—12 months to do with as we please—ahead of us.

Such a wonderful opportunity for fulfillment, excitement and enrichment should not be taken lightly. Think of it as a blank canvas awaiting your creation. And remember, closing the door on 2014 is followed by the new door of 2015 swinging open with a renewed vigor. Therefore, look back, even if briefly, to learn from your past and then forge forward. Here are some ideas to motivate you, ones that always seem to work for me:

  • Set your own goals for the year. Actually writing things down can be a great motivator.
  • Review any disappointments from last year, and see them as a chance to do better this year.
  • Become more of a giver and less of a taker. It’s amazing how good you’ll feel.
  • Nurture your closest personal relationships and reach out to the people you have thought about over the past year—and make a real effort to reconnect.
  • Use every ounce of your talents, skills and knowledge to be the best person you possibly can be and use these gifts to benefit others as well. In fact, make it a habit to do this every day.
  • Focus on your health by eating better, sleeping more and thinking positive with a real purpose.
  • Learn a new language or add a new word to your vocabulary, discover a new hobby or take up the sport that your friends never imagined would hold any interest for you.

One of my best memories is when my husband, Friedrich, and I took “the plunge”—literally—out of an airplane. I have to admit that up until the second we were gently prodded out of the open door, I had wondered to myself: Just exactly what am I doing here? But, the second we were clear of the plane, I felt an almost surreal sense of achievement, pride and success. We had taken a figurative and literal leap of faith, and it felt amazing. All of the planning, anticipation, preparation and apprehension of our skydiving adventure paid off in huge dividends of accomplishment, self-satisfaction and exhilaration.

We knew we could do it, we did it, and it was done!

It’s an experience like this that not only adds an incredible jolt to life, but motivates you to reach other goals whether personal or professional. So next time you hesitate, for whatever reason, remember our leap of faith and go for it! The sky is not the limit, but only a new beginning.

Here’s another example of going for it. Back in the 1970s there were four women on Sanibel who had a goal. In the feature Pedaling the Path to Paradise, we tell the story of how these women started with an idea that resulted in the island’s highly successful shared use bicycle path. Thanks to their perseverance, thousands of people today enjoy Sanibel by riding this trail.

Another person who has indeed reached beyond the sky with his success is featured on page 18. Times of the Islands goes one-on-one with ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman. Read about his 35-year career covering the NFL and other national sports for the television network and how he made his way to our islands.

In closing, I want to challenge you to an earlier thought about adding a new word to your vocabulary. So here it is: hornswoggle. Can you really hornswoggle your way to success?

Daniela E. Jaeger is the publisher of TOTI Media, Inc. 

Water’s Going On?

Uncovering the rules of the Ice Bucket Challenge, and who in the community has been targeted most recently.

By Melanie Pagan

If you’ve spent time on social media lately, chances are you’ve witnessed one of your virtual friends dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads for charity’s sake.

The Ice Bucket Challenge began this summer as a way to raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This condition affects nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movements. When one gets nominated to do the challenge, they have one of two choices: post a video online of themselves being doused in ice water, or donate $100 to an ALS charity (some people have opted to do both). The dripping subject then nominates a handful of others to do the same.

The wacky act of awareness has since gone viral, and celebrities have even joined in on the fun. Famous faces have included Jennifer Aniston, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio and even George W. Bush.

Jennifer Aniston accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Former President George W. Bush accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge.

But local personalities have also been targeted. On Wednesday, Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson G. Bradshaw took to the cause, and had an ice cold bucketful dumped on his head in plain sight of university students and faculty. He then passed on the dumping duties to other FGCU members, including Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ron Toll, Dean of the College of Health Professions and Social Work Dr. Mitchell Cordova, Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh, and more.

FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So far, the ALS Association reports donations of over $94.3 million. Moral of the story? Have your checkbooks or water buckets nearby, because with the challenge hitting like a tidal wave so close to home, it appears no one is exempt from nomination.

Where you can donate:
ALS Association,
ALS of Florida,
ALS Family Charitable Foundation, Inc.,

To find out about local charities you can donate to (sans water bucket), explore these links:

Melanie Pagan is the assignment editor and social media coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc. Follow her on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages.

Do you have a video of you or someone you know raising ALS awareness? Share it here, or on our Facebook page!



Home is Where the Heart is

By Melanie Pagan

Perhaps the most beloved place in the world is where you hang your hat, and we want to ensure your house looks and feels just as you want it to. In our Home & Garden issue, we bring you the area’s most prominent professionals in design and landscape, and a plethora of tips and trends to inspire.

Robb & Stucky International

In Times of the Islands, we eliminate any ideas you may have of composting being too difficult, and explain just how beneficial thinking green when it comes to fertilizing can be. And while we’re in the garden, we explore one of the most obsessed about blooms in the world – the orchid. There are many passionate collectors of this epiphyte in Southwest Florida, and professionals explain just what makes it so special.


RSW Living features the majestic river creatures known as koi, and shows what it takes to create a beautiful and sustainable home for them right in your backyard. Read on for a story on our cover stars, Robb & Stucky International, detailing how they’ve managed to recreate the brand while still staying close to their Southwest Florida roots.


Pick up a copy of Gulf & Main for our exclusive Q&A with Berne Davis – Fort Myers’ benefactor of the arts, and a woman who has witnessed decades worth of change in the town she grew up in. Look no further for wonderful suggestions of aromatic plants to add to your garden, because also inside is a feature on fragrant flowers that are perfect for our sunny climate.


More interested in pleasing your taste buds via homegrown items? Bonita & Estero has you covered with a piece on edible and drinkable landscaping. Moving indoors, we tell you why your home is in exceptional hands with Collins & DuPont Design Group.

Collins & DuPont

So curl up on the couch with your favorite magazine of ours in hand, flip through the pages, and let the contents of our issue inspire you. Because no matter where you live, we know it’s important to feel great in the comfort of your own living space.

Melanie Pagan is the assignment editor and social media coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc.

Restaurant Review: Rosie’s Cafe & Grill

By Melanie Pagan

“Where can you go to get a good sandwich around here?” I imagine many first-timers on Sanibel wonder this. People who drive over the causeway onto Periwinkle Way are greeted by dozens of fancy dinner restaurants perfect for nights out, but it’s less common to find eateries that serve quick, quality food at a reasonable price all day long.

But it’s not impossible. In fact, if a Sanibel visitor were to ask me the aforementioned question, I would point them in the direction of Rosie’s Café & Grill – located in Palm Ridge Plaza, conveniently on the way to Bowman’s Beach (and even more conveniently, across the street from the TOTI offices.)


Here you’ll find all the classic lunch staples: soups, salads, sandwiches, etc., with most meals ranging between $8-13. But it’s the gourmet flavors infused into each bite of these selections that really make otherwise common menu items memorable.

Chicken Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing, and Buffalo chicken sandwich. Notice the homemade potato chips. If only I could photograph their crispy texture…

I have to be honest – I rarely get through an entire chicken sandwich at other restaurants before I toss a bite to the side for being too fatty or tough, but each time I delve into one at Rosie’s (I always order it spicy with their signature seasonings), I consume the entire thing before even realizing it. Each bite of chicken is always tender, hot but not too hot, with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and Kaiser roll to boot. And did I mention the sandwich comes with shoestring fries?

I was feeling gutsy on this particular visit to Rosie’s, and decided to try the Buffalo chicken sandwich instead of my usual order. Just as delicious as the spicy grilled version!

I seldom venture to other parts of the menu because the chicken is consistently that good, but everyone I dine with at Rosie’s orders a different signature item they absolutely swear by (I’ve once heard someone describe the tropical bouillabaisse as “heavenly.”)

A delicate rose can be found at all seating arrangements at Rosie’s.

If you’d like a different recommendation when dining in, you might get the chance to ask co-owners Irving Gavin or Joanne Fitzgerald yourself. The tight-knit staff often doubles in duties like hosting, serving, or scooping up frozen treats from their Royal Scoop Homemade Ice Cream bar, so the two can sometimes be spotted in the front-of-house. Don’t fret if they’re not, though, because each server seemingly knows menu items like the back of their hand.

A sample of blueberry cobbler ice cream from Royal Scoop Homemade Ice Cream, served exclusively at Rosie’s. Not pictured: actual chunks of pie crust inside.

So next time you’re headed back from the beach with the windows down, and your stomach starts to growl, stop and “smell the Rosie’s” at Palm Ridge Plaza … the aroma of their fresh food can be enough to lure you in.

Melanie Pagan is the assignment editor and social media coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc. See what other restaurants we love on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages.

Rosie’s Café & Grill
2330 Palm Ridge Rd., Sanibel
Open 8 am – 9 pm
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner
Visit Rosie’s on Facebook

Ocean’s Allure

By Melanie Pagan

Do you hear that? The open ocean calling your name? Judging by the amount of life on Sanibel these days, the waves are certainly beckoning some souls.

Whether one is physically on island, or just frequently dreaming of a view where the ocean meets the sky in an infinite horizon, our March/April issues cater to the individuals who feel ultimate tranquility at sea.

We cover all things water-related in all four publications, from boating to fishing to seafood, so no matter where you are, you can enjoy the essence of the islands.

In Times of the Islands, we bring you tongue-in-cheek illustrations by Dave Drotleff of a Sanibel dweller’s favorite activity: shelling! Variations of the notorious “Sanibel Stoop”—like the sneaky stoop and the silly stoop—are detailed so beachgoers can identify these characters next time they’re out on the sand.

But it’s not just the humans of the islands the magazine focuses on. Flip the pages and you’ll find out more about the alligators that freely roam Sanibel, and how man and beast have come to coexist over the years.

Gulf & Main features historical fish houses and the bygone fishing industry they represent. Read further for a story on nautical knots, and the importance of tying one that’s seaworthy.

Pick up a copy of RSW Living, and you’ll see how we’ve captured the mighty presence of the tarpon in Boca Grande, with insight on what it takes to reel in the powerful Silver King. Also inside, nature-lovers can learn some of the best places to enjoy local waters, from popular spots to hidden gems.





Bonita & Estero includes one avid surfer’s account of riding unexpected waves on the Gulf, right off secluded Cayo Costa State Park.


As always, you can expect to find stories about local booming businesses, inspirational people, trends, events and more, but let’s be honest: visitors and residents alike are interested in the area for one main reason, and that’s because we are never truly alone here. We are always surrounded by the sea.

Melanie Pagan is the Assignment Editor and Social Media Coordinator at TOTI Media, Inc. Follow her on our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.

Love the one you’re with

By Melanie Pagan

The loveliest holiday of the year is right around the corner! Though it’s important to shower your lover with affection year-round, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to take levels of admiration up a notch.

With gorgeous sunsets and dreamy hotel suites, Sanibel Island boasts a romantic atmosphere that is ideal for sweethearts. Delectable eats and exclusive jewels offered on the island also allow for one-of-a-kind keepsakes and experiences. Here are some ways you can spoil your darling on Sanibel in celebration of the big day:


Lily & Co. Jewelers

Cedar Chest Fine Jewelry

Sealife by Congress

Thistle Lodge

Traditions on the Beach

Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Trader’s Cafe
Trader’s VIP members will recieve a bottle of  house wine, Dante, at 1/2 off with the purchase of two lunch or dinner entrees (not applicable during Happy Hour).  This special will be offered throughout the month of February.

Spa Time
Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa & Boutique

Off island
Mark Loren Designs

Gulf Coast Coin & Jewelry
gc coin

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Do you know of other Valentine’s Day specials offered in the area? Let us know below!

The Big Picture

By Melanie Pagan

It may be a late New Year’s resolution, but I’m seriously considering carrying a camera with me whenever I go out. Southwest Florida is blessed with so much natural beauty that it can be difficult to breathe in every gorgeous moment. Every morning driving over the Sanibel Causeway is like a guessing game of anticipation. Will I see a pelican diving in the water today? Or perhaps an osprey will be perched on the railing, eyeing its next prey.

But wildlife sightings don’t just happen on the islands. Brightly colored butterflies and honey bees can often be found dancing around blooming flowers in Bonita, and powerful birds like hawks, or even eagles, are at times visible in the sky.

When photographers come to Southwest Florida, they know they have some major shooting opportunities, and we thought our January/February Outdoors & Sports issues would be a great place to showcase some of their works. In Times of the Islands, we’ve dedicated an entire spread to breathtaking snapshots of Blind Pass and Roseate Spoonbills, all taken by Sanibel-based photographer Jonathan Tongyai.

getpubissueimage (2)
Reflections by Jonathan Tongyai

Even more Southwest Florida photographs are celebrated in the pages of Bonita & Estero Magazine, where we profiled five artists—Garth Francis, Mark Renz, Peggy Farren, David Meardon, and Gordon Campbell—and their shots of lush landscapes and exotic animals.

Great Egret Display by David Meardon

I know I can only hope to mimic the talent of these individuals through pictures of my own (although I can certainly admire them in our magazines!), but we are constantly surrounded by precious moments here in Southwest Florida, and they are just begging to be captured in time.

Melanie Pagan is the Assignment Editor and Social Media Coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc.

Save the Dates

By Melanie Pagan

Boy, has it been a busy week at the office! As we try to include all of the great news and local happenings that surround us into our publications, Southwest Florida continues to bustle with so much excitement that we simply cannot fit everything into one issue! Here are a few January/February events that we’d still like to acknowledge:

Pedaling for Safe Pathways
Sunday, January 26, 6:30am
More than 700 people will attend the Naples Pathways Coalition (NPC) Bike Brunch, which will start in Lowdermilk Park at 6:30am. NPC is a non-profit advocacy group working for a fully integrated transportation network of sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-use pathways to be used by cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motorized users throughout Naples and Collier County. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Cancer Alliance of Naples.

Gale Bennett w the Art Student Painting
Gale Bennett 75: Retrospective Art Exhibit
Friday, February. 7-Saturday, March 1
Alliance for the Arts
Gale Bennett can justifiably be called Southwest Florida’s most renowned native artist and art teacher. During the years from 1996 to 2007, he welcomed nearly 1,000 artists to his workshops in Monet’s famous village of Giverny, where they enjoyed the rare privilege of painting in Monet’s Gardens seven days a week.

Mrs. Edison at the piano
Mrs. Edison’s Hymn Sing

Tuesday, February 11, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm
The First Presbyterian Church
Celebrate the Edison Festival of Light and help feed the hungry by attending the 25th Anniversary Mrs. Edison’s Hymn Sing at The First Presbyterian Church in downtown Fort Myers at the corner of Second Street and Lee Street. Food and cash donations to benefit The Soup Kitchen of CCMI are encouraged.

A Musical Evening with Cello & Friends

Wednesday, February 19, 7:30pm
Foulds Theatre, Alliance of the Arts
Enjoy a casual concert exclusive enough to feel like it’s performed just for you. Cello Bennett plays in the company of musicians such as Jenny Hayden Densen, Irwin “Sandy” Densen, Judy Richey, Carlene Thissen, and Rachel Cox.

The Screaming Orphans Concert

Saturday, February 22, 8pm
Sidney & Berne Davis Arts Center
Four hilarious, musically obsessed, Irish sisters who call themselves the Screaming Orphans return to Fort Myers for their fifth annual concert at the SBDAC. Enter the theater early to listen to the band Kilt the Messenger, who will be performing out front starting at 6pm. All proceeds benefit the Adonis Autism Assistance Foundation and the Rotary Trust Fund.

Be sure to check out events highlighted in our January/February issues, including the Women’s Pro Classic at South Seas, Taste of the Islands, Noah’s Concert for the Kids, the HITS Triathlon Naples, the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial and more. For additional ideas on how to spend your upcoming days, visit our online calendar at

Melanie Pagan is the Assignment Editor/Social Media Coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc.

Hello, Twenty Fourteen

By Melanie Pagan

At the start of any new year, thoughts of how to make the next 365 days better than the last flood through countless minds.

But while everyone is stuck trying to master changing threes to fours when writing out dates, we at TOTI are continuing to plan stories as far out in advance as November/December. Producing bimonthly magazines requires us to work so far ahead that we can easily forget about the now.

So, this is us reflecting on 2013, and looking forward to the future.

In the last year, we have worked with a number of innovators, expanded our team, grown our loyal fan-base, created a stronger internet presence, attended marvelous events and have done our best to capture special sides of the area we call home.

Like anyone else, we have experienced some bumps in the road, but it’s the mountains and valleys of life that keep the journey exciting. Through trial and error, we’ve managed to keep a consistent mindset: work diligently to give readers a high-quality magazine to indulge in.

Even in an increasingly digital world, nothing beats the feeling of curling up with a magazine in hand, and flipping through glossy pages with dazzling photographs and stories highlighting Southwest Florida’s most fascinating people and places.

We are continuing to implement changes in our 2014 issues to keep this sentiment alive within our readers. With all of the new technology out there, we are easily exposed to hundreds of news outlets, and the shift from just timely articles to in-depth features can be a refreshing break.

So for 2014, our New Year’s resolution is to continue being your source of enlightenment for our beautiful coast. Join us by picking up our January/February issue, kicking back in this gorgeous weather, and reading in the company of Mother Nature. Because everyone needs to unplug now and then, and we promise dozens of great stories for you to get lost in.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant and social media representative for TOTI Media, Inc.


Picture Perfect

By Melanie Pagan

When we outline content for our magazines, we always ask the question: “what will hit home with our readers?” Whether we cover a person making a difference locally, or shed light on under-the-radar activities, we strive to keep our audience connected to the Lee County community.

But now we want more. I guess you can call us needy. Not only do we want readers to take pleasure in our content, we want them to feel like they are a part of it. It’s one thing to give our supporters pages to flip through, but showcasing photos of their own can transform: “here’s a story on the beach I visited,” into “here’s a picture of me at that very beach!”

Our social media outlets are good places to start. As we expand our internet presence, we want our fans to grow along with us. We have started to announce photo contests on our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages, so people can enter to win a chance to appear in print or online.


Until January 1, we are asking friends to send us pictures of themselves or loved ones in the “Sanibel Stoop” pose for a chance to appear in our March/April issues. We have also implemented a weekly #OfficePawty challenge on Facebook, where readers can submit photos of furry friends hanging out on the clock, in the office. The weekly winner will be featured on our page.


So, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to “like” our social media pages to find out where and what to submit. Without our loyal subscribers and readers, we wouldn’t be where we are, and we want to express our thanks.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Pin us on Pinterest

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant and social media representative for TOTI Media.