Five to Try for July…Make That Three!

Okay, I suck.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, the blogging can continue.

I made a pact with myself that I would continue this fun creative experiment Five to Try every month, and then July came along.

Yeah, I know it’s August and I’m talking about July, but hang with me a little longer here.

You see, I had every intention of trying five new things in July – really I did. And then a few things happened called dental work, dental work, and oh yeah, dental work. The sad part is the adventures in teeth are not yet over (oh goody) and resume most likely later this month (want to join in the fun?) but what these lively times have meant is hard to articulate. Let’s just say a lack of interest in interacting with the human species for various blocks of time. Yes, that about covers it.

So I am here in nearly mid-August reporting to you that I do not in fact have a Five to Try to blog about but rather a Three to Try for July! That doesn’t take away from the three I’m here to tell you about – each deserves a little write-up of their own but why not tag team all three of them here since we are after all just a wee bit behind… 

Five to Try for July #1 – Pioneer Florida Museum & Village (Dade City, FL)

I’ve lived in Pasco County for over 16 years yet never visited this cool blast from the past. If you haven’t been, schedule a visit in the fall when the weather’s a little cooler because much of your exploration will be conducted outdoors or in and out of non-air conditioned buildings, so you will appreciate this first tip immensely. Trust me.

I have been promoting events at the Pioneer Florida Museum within my calendar listing work for a few local magazines yet always embarrassed that I had never been to the place myself. For families with inquisitive kids who do appreciate seeing historic buildings and furnishings, this is definitely the place to bring them. Apparently, the museum grounds cover 21 acres. You will not be walking all of this, rest assured, but you should definitely dress comfortably and wear durable, closed-toe shoes because you’ll be covering varied terrain.

Pioneer Florida Village is comprised of 12 different buildings spread out with a clearly marked path – you are provided a map as well which doesn’t hurt. And you’ll have an opportunity to see turn of the century or early ‘20s or ‘30s structures, walk within them and check out the many artifacts you’d likely find inside – such as the Lacoochee School of 1926 and its many school desks and chalkboard…

the Mabel Jordan Barn with a huge collection of farm equipment, carriages, wagons and more,

or the Enterprise Methodist Church – pews, pulpit and all. Some folks start to lose themselves a little when they get out there in front of the local folks behind that pulpit. Larry…watch it…


From steam engines and their impressive cargo…


…to packing houses and the story their early marketing told…

…there’s plenty to see. Best of all, you can go at your own pace, and hang out to meet the locals…

dawdle where you want to have a little fun…

…and remind yourself what a different world this once was and how much easier things are today…


It’s a great value for families – just $6 for adults and $2 for kids 6-18 (five and under are free). I highly encourage you to check it out – but again, maybe as a fun fall or winter activity or early in the day if you go at this time of year so you’re not passing out along the way. We did not heed our own advice and tackled the village on a hot summer day after 3 p.m. (and yes, to answer that question you may be asking  right now, we ARE in fact out of our minds a little…certainly moreso after being in the heat and humidity for the 90 minute trek).


But if you’re even a little curious about history, check out this great local gem we have among us right under our noses!

Five to Try for July #2 – Powerstories Theatre ~ Girlstories

I had been hearing about this person named Fran Powers for a while and finally decided to do a little research and eventually interview the creative woman for Tampa Bay Skirt! magazine. What I learned what that this woman not only had a heart of gold and the greatest mission in the world – but she had put together the perfect vehicle to do it. Her goal – to help women find their way to telling their own story through the powerful tool of theater and with young women, this tool could be especially helpful in building self-esteem and confidence, two things that many of us could say we lacked during our tender, hypersensitive teenage years.  Through her nonprofit Powerstories, Fran and her team have gained a following and even the attention of the White House (now that deserves a woot-woot if you ask me!)


So when I heard that there was a special Girlstories production set for late July, I knew that I wanted to finally see this program for myself—in action. The group performed July 30-31 at the Shimberg Playhouse inside the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Tampa in a production called “The Dream We Dare.”

Twenty-one girls participated, each sharing a personal story on stage and the lesson they took away from it – some from life-changing experiences like family struggles or physical challenges to common battles we all experience like crushes oblivious to our feelings or friends that unexpectedly grow apart.


I will admit: when the production began, I was a little worried that I would be having flashbacks to an “Up with People” homage yet as the production progressed, it soon became apparent that this is about more than the songs being sung, set design or props: this is about finding a truth – a personal truth, something dwelling on your mind, getting to the heart of that truth, and putting it into words. And what makes us better for finding it and what benefits we take away from it and on to the next experience, well, those are just little bonuses.

What impress me most was the fact that these young girls, all in 6th through 8th grades, have reached a critical point in their lives and a much deeper understanding of themselves than I could have ever hoped for at their age, and I attribute that to the encouragement of people like Fran and her colleagues and the support of their families and the community.

I’m thankful for the existence of programs like Girlstories (and its counterpart for the rest of us more “mature” women, Powerstories). So, thank you, Fran, for making this happen. (That’s Fran at center below following the production…)

Powerstories has an upcoming production from its adult women program called “Shevolution” scheduled for later this month (August 27-28) at the Shimberg again. Tickets are $20. If you’re able to make it, I highly urge you to check it out for yourself.

Five to Try for July #3 – Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches

After I caught the Girlstories production, I thought to myself, ‘hey, self – this would be a good opportunity to try something else new. How about a late lunch?’ When I realized that the little vegetarian joint in downtown Tampa that I had planned to try did not have Sunday hours (note to future self: check website first!), I decided to go simple, and what’s simpler than a sub sandwich? As a vegetarian, this doesn’t normally afford me many options beyond, well, vegetables and cheese on a sandwich, and I love my Subway veggie on whole wheat, but I remembered the whole point of Five to Try – to take myself out of my usual, everyday, same old thing and try something new. So I found myself at…

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches for the first time ever. And here’s what I learned about this particular Tampa franchise (and I will leave off the address for fear that these sandwich makers will come and find me and make me eat another sandwich, and this time one with meat!)

Apparently, Jimmy John’s subscribes to this mathematical formula: vegetarian = sprouts. Why? Because any vegetarian option smothers the sandwich with these nasty wanna-be weeds. When I placed my order, I specifically said, “Please, no sprouts. Don’t like those at all.” The young man repeated it back to me and nodded his understanding. And of course, when the sandwich arrived, it arrived like this.

Yes, those are sprouts at the bottom being yanked out callously by me without any remorse.

Of course, my favorite part of the customer interaction was when I innocently inquired if they had fresh mushrooms available to add to the sandwich. The cashier matter-of-factly replied, “Yes, mushrooms WOULD be nice to have, but we don’t have them” (emphasis on the WOULD). Hmm, I thought. Is he politely agreeing with me or do I detect a slight snarkiness in that response? Seems he could have just said “no.” It would have been shorter and clearer. Or the polite Southern version of that “no, sorry we don’t.”

 I asked if they could cut my sandwich in two, and as you can see, they followed these instructions well, too.


When they called out for the customer who had ordered the veggie sub (with sprouts, they neglected to say), I chuckled a little because I was the only person in the whole place. I asked another young man working behind the great big hidden mystery sandwich making cavern where the napkins were located. He grunted a little and pointed toward the drink machine. “Over there, next to the drinksk,” he muttered. I looked and still did not see them. “I’m sorry, I still can’t find them.” He moved a few steps closer and pointed to the pile.

The pile was located on the other side of the counter, a few inches below the counter and just off of the food preparation area. Yes, of course, I would look there, where you, my well-spoken caveman friend, are working, because that’s where any customer should be extending their hairy arm and dirty hands to reach for some napkins. How foolish of me.

I ate in the car, angrily. Why did I come here? Here was a perfect example of why I don’t try new places…blah blah blah…negative talk, negative talk… chomping on my flat, boring sandwich (sprouts manually removed, of course). And then it hit me. Aah, but that is precisely the point. What if – now go out here on a limb with me – what IF, I had gotten the absolute best service imaginable and the absolute best sub sandwich I had ever tasted, just imagine if that had happened.

 True, it didn’t. But if it did, just imagine how happy I would be that I stepped inside that restaurant.

Okay, but that didn’t happen. I had popped into a fast food joint instead, and I don’t  know if the quality of food was strong enough to even warrant the glowing term “joint.”

But though this particular experiment may have gone awry, I stay true to the purpose of this adventure for 2011. Trying new things, new places, new things to see, do and try. You can’t find your next favorite thing if you didn’t try it the first time, can you?

I laugh a little about the tagline for Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches.

World’s greatest gourmet sandwiches.

Ha. Yeah, right. And maybe all vegetarians live and die by sprouts…in a parallel universe, um, but not in this one.

Thumbs down for this Jimmy John’s experience. But thumbs up once again for Five to Try. And that my friends is a wrap for July’s creative experiment.

Aah, a wrap. Maybe I should have tried that instead. Hmm…

1 Comment

  1. I loved # 1 – been meaning to get there myself – Kudos on #2 -but on to #3 – I had not tried Jimmy Johns but while I was in World of Beer last week a girl came in handing out samples – taste was fine – though overloaded with lettuce. She was very friendly adn had a great personality – sound like they need to put her in the store because the young person you encountered would have mad me never go back. I have yet to give the place an official try….and I will not be afraid to speak to the manager if it does not go well 🙂

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