Monthly Archives: November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and Jolly Shopping Days!


by Melanie Pagan

As the end of the week approaches, stomachs growl in anticipation of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and other special dishes made exclusively on Thanksgiving. But food and fun with family members aren’t the only things that stir up excitement this holiday weekend.

Black Friday commences at the stroke of midnight and crowds of people race around to score some great deals on presents for loved ones (and, you know, maybe a gift of two for themselves). Our November/December issues of RSW Living, Gulf & Main, Bonita & Estero and Times of the Islands tell readers why Coconut Point and the Edison Mall are great places to shop on the big day.

And although Black Friday is widely recognized as the biggest shopping day of the year, Small Business Saturday is an equally great day to spend time hunting for cheap finds, all while supporting our local businesses.

Here are a few Southwest Florida-based establishments to keep in mind this Saturday:

Bonita/Estero/Naples – Mark Loren Designs (and Fort Myers), Norris Home Furnishings (Fort Myers and Sanibel), and Posh Plum.

Cape Coral/Fort Myers – Jennifer’s, Mirage Boutique, and The Open Door Shoppes.

Sanibel/Captiva – Cedar Chest Fine Jewelry, Eileen Fisher, H2O Outfitters, Island Pursuit,  Lily & Co., Sanibel Book Shop, She Sells Sea Shells, Suncatchers’ Dream, and YOLO Water Sports.

Fuel up during your big shopping weekend at one of these tasty local restaurants:

Bonita/Estero/Naples – A Table Apart, Bellini on Fifth Italian Ristorante, Big Hickory Seafood Grille & Marina, Blu Sushi (and Fort Myers),Figs Grille, Ford’s Garage (and Fort Myers), Gordon’s on the River, Figs Grille, Home Thai Sushi Bar, Inca’s Kitchen, Masa, Pinchers (several Lee County locations), Old 41, Survey Café, and Tarpon Bay Restaurant,

Cape Coral/Fort Myers – Cristof’s on McGregor, The Edison,  Firestone, Los Cabos Cantina, Prawnbroker, University Grill, and  The Veranda.

Fort Myers Beach – Nervous Nellie’s

Sanibel/Captiva – Cantina Captiva, Captiva Pizza, Yogurt & Gift Emporium, Geppetto’s Beach Foodies, The Jacaranda, Island BBQ, Island Cow, Island Pizza,  Keylime Bistro, Matzaluna, The Mucky Duck, The Old Captiva House, Pinocchio’s Ice cream, RC Otter’s,  The Sandbar, Starfish Grill, Sunshine Seafood Café & Wine Bar, Sweet Melissa’s Café, Timbers, Thistle Lodge, and Traders.

On behalf of the entire TOTI Media family: have a very happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving and holiday weekend.

….Let us know below! We are thankful for our wonderful and loyal supporters of TOTI Media.

Play Here, Stay Here

by Melanie Pagan

Each morning that I drive over the Sanibel Causeway for work, I fall in love all over again. Even after all the years of frequenting the island in my youth, the feeling of serenity I get when I see Sanibel’s endless horizon from the top of the bridge never subsides. The sight of blue skies and waves as they glisten in the sun, quietly breaking and fading into white sand; the sound of swaying palm trees and pelicans diving for fish in the ocean… it is truly a slice of paradise.

I imagine that our seasonal island guests get a similar feeling when crossing over. Visitors arriving at any of Sanibel’s numerous luxury beachfront destinations will be treated to a front-row view of the water, and they can experience that peace daily.

I recently met with Waterside Inn owner Bert Jenks and toured rooms tailor-made for guests who yearn for that kind of experience. Waterside Inn is one of the many hotels that grant visitors secluded beach access just a few steps from their rooms.

But island tranquility is not just attainable out in the open. Beach-inspired color schemes linger throughout the cottages at the inn, and rooms bear just the right amount of sea-themed accents. Private balconies in units and front porches in suites allow guests to hear calming ocean sounds while enjoying the shade.

As I drove away from Waterside Inn, a maintenance man named John waved me goodbye. Just then I realized: guests may have high expectations for their stay on Sanibel based on the beautiful drive over, but those expectations must be met when they stay at one of our fine hotels—and they are! Not only are views from the rooms captivating, but hospitality services are genuine. Perhaps this is because Sanibel employees are truly happy to work where they do. After all, we do get to be at the beach all year long, and we are able to revisit that introduction to paradise each time we drive over the causeway.

San-Cap vacationers: what is your favorite place to stay on the islands and why? To Fort Myers locals: have you ever taken a “staycation” on the island? If so, where did you choose to rest your head? The beaches of Sanibel and Captiva have been ranked as some of the best in the world, so let’s recognize the establishments that make visits here more enjoyable.

Times of the Islands is the only sophisticated lifestyle magazine for the Lee island coast. Find out where to go to the get the most out of your vacation, or what is happening on the island you call home, by flipping through any of our issues.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant for TOTI Media, Inc.

Sights from the Waterside Inn at  3033 W Gulf Dr, Sanibel, FL 33957 (239-472-1345):
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‘Tis the Season for Pleasin’

by Melanie Pagan

The holiday season is a wonderful time for Floridians. We are able to enjoy the outdoors without breaking a sweat, hospitality services thrive with a tremendous influx of vacationers, and out-of-state loved ones tend to travel here rather than persuade us to head north toward uninviting temperatures.

With that said, this past weekend I hosted a dinner party for my dear friends who escaped from an increasingly cold Colorado climate. We each prepared a special dish, and on that day of we filled up with sweet potato casserole, pot roast, and green beans, all while trading stories of our lives in cities apart. In the days before the gathering, I was not as concerned about the food (I keep that old pot roast family recipe on file for such occasions) as I was about the drinks. After all, everyone knows a dinner party is not complete without a delicious way to wash down an equally delightful dish.

Looking to create something with a seasonal taste like eggnog, but still light enough to compliment a meal, I searched through the November/December issue of Times of the Islands. When I opened up to the Cheers! section, a big bottle of Van Gogh Vodka immediately stared back at me. I was eager to give the liquor a try once I learned that the brand uses natural ingredients for flavoring, and has seemingly endless varieties from Dutch chocolate to PB&J.

The Double Dutch Espresso with Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka ($29, Total Wine) featured in the magazine sounded simple and delicious—exactly the kind of drink I had in mind. The recipe called for milk or vanilla creamer and ground cinnamon, but I opted for vanilla almond milk and a touch of pumpkin spice creamer instead. I shook the ingredients with some ice, strained them into a martini glass, sprinkled cinnamon on top and voilà! Seasonally infused goodness with just the right amount of kick. I was very satisfied and, it turned out, my guests were too. By the end of dinner, my friends were begging to know where I had gotten the idea for the drink.

“Oh, you know, it’s just something I made,” I responded. I guess I’m not always as good at sharing tips as Times of the Islands can be. I will tell them eventually, but only after I use other ideas from the Cheers section first. After all, the drinks may serve as added incentive for my friends to visit, aside from the gorgeous weather we get during these cozy and inviting months.

Is there a holiday beverage, dish or gift idea we have inspired you to seek out for the holidays? Or is there a go-to recipe you keep just for celebratory occasions? Let us know if you’ve learned more about your favorite cocktail, wine, or spirit by reading our magazines! And if there is one we’ve just got to try, well, you don’t have to tell us twice. Cheers!

To find out more about a beverage to entertain or relax  with next, turn to the Cheers section in our November/December issues of Times of the Islands, Gulf & Main, RSW Living & Bonita & Estero on sale now.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant for TOTI Media, Inc.