Tag Archives: Lorena Ivonne

Festa Italiana Weekend 2014

Four days of food, wine, cocktails, bocce ball, and live entertainment.  Months upon months of planning, securing, scheduling, ordering and promoting.  Years upon years, 17 to be exact, of culture, heritage and tradition.

This year’s 17th Annual Festa Italiana (i.e. the Italian Food & Wine Festival) opened with the Wines of Italy tasting event and concluded with the main Festa Italiana event in Centennial Park.  Over 20,000 attendees flooded the historic Ybor City district in celebration of Italian culture, the Italian community and of course, wine and pasta!

18th Annual Festa Italiana Weekend
Save The Date:  April 9 to 12, 2015
www.festaitalianatampa.com

WOI 14 GroupWOI 14 DessertsFesta Italiana 14 BocceFesta Italian 14 VinoFesta Italiana 13 FoodFesta Italiana 14 Paul SalosClub Italia 14 GroupClub Italia 14 BarFesta Italiana 14 DitaFesta Italiana 14 IC

 

“Jerk Ribs” by Kelis: God Bless Kelis Rogers! Unhappy with ever becoming yet another one-hit wonder, or the girl who sang that “Milkshake” song, or even the ex-wife of Nas, she has consistently reinvented her sound and image to stay relevant with the current musical landscape.  She fully embraced dance music on 2010’s Flesh Tone album, and now reveals a new electro-soul sound with her recently released, concept FOOD album.

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The RITZ Ybor Photo: Big Gigantic

Big Gigantic 2014

Big Gigantic‘s The Night Is Young Tour with CAKED UP
at The RITZ Ybor
on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Photo by Nicole Abbett

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The RITZ Ybor Photo: The Delta Saints

The Delta Saints 01 The Delta Saints 02

Blackberry Smoke‘s The Fire In The Hole Tour with The Delta Saints
at The RITZ Ybor
on Thursday, January 9, 2014

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Halloween Temptation 2013

Since I was a child and even as a candy-addict adult, I just never got into the whole concept of dressing up in costume, trick or treating, getting spooked out and celebrating Halloween.  In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve ever dressed up, with six years ago being the last time that I donned a costume.

With Tampa’s largest Halloween party called Temptation taking place at my work on Halloween night, along with one of my best friends hosting a Halloween party at her abode the weekend after, I decided to get into the All Hallows’ Eve groove and break tradition by dressing up.  I constructed my first Halloween costume (Fifty Shades of Grey) from Home Depot paint sample color cards for the Temptation party, and lazily threw together whatever I could scrounge from my closet (Dirty Hipster Sex meets Ooooooohhh… on the TLC Tip!) for Jess’s party.

Two Halloween costumes in one year?  Sometimes, I spook myself out.

Temptation 2013 OkieTemptation 2013 01Temptation 2013 02 Temptation 2013 Group A
Temptation 2013 Group B
Temptation 2013 Girls
Temptation 2013 Jess Jenn

Temptation Halloween Party: The Haunted Theatre
@ The RITZ Ybor on October 31, 2013
www.temptationhalloween.com



Halloween 2013 JessHalloween 2013 Okie Areis AHalloween 2013 Okie Areis Steven ClayHalloween 2013 Okie Clay Areis Halloween 2013 Okie Jess Halloween 2013 Okie StevenHalloween 2013 Okie Areis

Jess’s Halloween Party
Saturday, November 2, 2013



“Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly: Hands down, Mother Monster’s most hypnotic and BEST single since “Pokerface”!


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The RITZ Ybor Photo: ZZ Ward / The Silent Comedy

ZZ Ward The Silent ComedyZZ Ward and The Silent Comedy at The RITZ Ybor
on Wednesday, June 5, 2013

“Her energy evokes Tina Turner’s, her chops Aretha Franklin’s and her soul Etta James’s.”The New York Times on ZZ Ward

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Jason’s Visit: May 2013

Jason Moriarty Okie May 2013

Jason’s annual springtime trip back home to Tampa occurred last weekend.  The last time that I saw Jason was during his 30th Birthday gathering up in NYC earlier this year. (READ: Concrete Jungle post)  Since there was zero photographic evidence that I was up there celebrating three decades of his fabulous existence on Earth, our first mission for this Tampa reunion was to take at least one damn photo together.  (Fun Fact: The second mission was to order Hungry Howie’s pizza and revel in their garlic and cajun crust pizzas.)  Missions accomplished.

It is a guaranteed riotous time when Jason is in town.  Even though both of us are now in our 30s, it would seem to outsiders that we are freshly 21 every time that we come together.

Please click on a thumbnail to enlarge / view photo:

 

 

“You Set Me Free” by Angie Miller…  Saturday, May 11, 2013.  3:45am.  Jason is  running to the nearest gas station in search of cigarettes.  Nick is running after Jason.  Literally.  Melissa is peacefully practicing Shavasana on the living room couch.  And the above music video found itself on repeat on my Apple TV.  Such a stunning song from an American Idol contestant who should’ve been in this week’s Finale.  Never fails in giving me goosebumps every single time I hear it!

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Moment 4 Life

Eddie Vs Opening

I had the privilege of attending the Opening Preview of Florida’s very first Eddie V’s restaurant last month.  This was an invite-only event to preview the dishes and desserts of the latest culinary offering from the Darden Restaurants Group.  I’m not singing praises only because my friend Steven Hickey is the managing partner there, but Eddie V’s completely knocked my socks off and wowed me.  My table split the Kung Pao Calamari and Jumbo Lump Crab, shared the Bananas Foster dessert, and I managed to inhale a lil’ bit of everything around me: Aimee’s Pacific Ahi Tuna, Jess’s Roasted Double Breast of Chicken and Shane’s Crab Fried Rice with Scallions & Mushrooms.  My Chilean Sea Bass dish managed to rival that of SideBern’s, my most favorite restaurant in Tampa.  The entire evening was a fantastic time spent with fabulous friends, and I salivate at the thought of my next Eddie V’s dining experience.  THANK YOU Steve for having us as your guests.

Please click on a thumbnail to enlarge / view photo (and please excuse my cellphone-snapped quality shots):

Niely Bday 2013 Group

After dinner that same evening, I high-tailed over to my good friend Niely‘s pinup / greaser-themed birthday party at The Dog’s Bollocks Pub.  Every year, Niely throws some colorfully-themed bday party for herself.  Two years ago, her festivities coincided with Square One‘s Man On The Moon art extravaganza, requiring guests to dress in black and white (not exactly colorful now that I think about it.)  However last year’s Nicki Minaj-themed bash featured a Look-a-Like costume contest and a plea for guests to butcher perform a Nicki Minaj song on the karaoke stage.  (Fun Fact: Before believing you can do Nicki’s “Moment 4 Life” karaoke justice, don’t.)

I concluded the evening still feeling dazzled from dinner and still feeling relieved that I stopped myself last year from subjecting my karaoke rendition of “Moment 4 Life” to living and breathing human beings with iPhone and Android video recording capabilities.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY Niely!

“I Was A Fool” by Tegan and Sara: I never paid much attention to Tegan and Sara until recently.  They’ve become one of those artists who lure me in with their new single, and then provoke me to start backtracking, listening and falling in love with all of their previous albums, wondering why the hell I never paid any attention to them ever back then.

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The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013

Jokie 2013

Jocelyn and I are no strangers to the historic entertainment district of Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City.  If Jocelyn and I were pugs, all of Ybor City would be our marked territory: We have eaten here.  We have drank there.  We have partied here and there to the front, to the back, to the right, to the left, to the left – everything you own in a box to the left, sideways, diagonally, zigzag and back.  So when the opportunity arose, and after heavy suggestion for both J and I to officially show our backyard to our friends that were strangers to Ybor City, we immediately devised a plan.  Born was The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut.

Here’s how it worked:

The Hosts:  JOKIE…  and for those readers lacking any common sense: just as Brad + Angelina = Brangelina and Ben + Jennifer = Bennifer before them, Jocelyn + Okie = JOKIE!

The Players:  John Fontana (Jocelyn’s leading man, Material Boy and Italian stallion), Kali (Jocelyn’s work baby and Hyde Park Village heir-apparent), Andy (Kali’s main squeeze and boo) and Lorena (no stranger to Ybor City, but a friend in need of an Ybor City refresher after her recent two-month stint in Los Angeles)

The Plan:  The Hosts must show the Players key Ybor City destinations, with stops at JOKIE’s signature hang-out locations.  May the odds be in their favor!

Jokie 2013 Gaybor

The Details:  We began the evening with ear candling (yes, ear candling!… don’t ask) at mi casa and then strutted on over to The Columbia for a pitcher of their famous Spanish sangria, James Joyce for a Framboise, Bernini for 1/2-priced dinner entrees and $2 mango martinis, Tampa Bay Brewing Company for the sampler beer tray, The Bricks for an art show and Pisco Sours, Liquid Tampa for a twirl, Bradley’s on Seventh for a whirl, Reservoir Bar for second-hand smoke inhalation and a beer, Hamburger Mary’s for the 10pm Drag Show, Hurricane pitchers and a photo with Mark & Carrie (above), The Castle for dungeon photo-ops and a vodka cranberry minus the cranberry, MC Film Fest for a lil’ shopping, The Honey Pot for shots of Patron and dancing and G.Bar for more dancing but this time with blurry vision and slurred speech.

It was indeed a long night, but the Players threw their hands up in exhausted and inebriated defeat and called it a night.  The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut failed to reach the final three destinations: an ice shot at CZAR, a hookah at Zoya and a slice of pizza at New York, New York Pizza / Shepherd’s pie at The Dog’s Bollocks.

The Players (minus a few still recovering from the night before) reconvened the next morning at Gaspar’s Grotto for the Booze Cruise Brunch and to officially conclude the inaugural JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013.

Conclusion:  While the Players showed bravery, dedication and very admiral attempts at hanging with the Hosts, and as much fun was had by all…  another JOKIE Strut must and will be planned at a later date and time.

Special Thanks:  Jocelyn and I would like THANK all of our friends who we texted, messaged & called for any special favors, along with their wonderful staff for showing our Players true Ybor City hospitality at its very finest!

Who run this mutha?  For all-intended purposes of this blog post, please press play and replace the words “WORLD” with “YBOR” and “GIRLS” with “JOKIE”…  “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce

Please click on thumbnail to enlarge/view photo:

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Aquarius Triumvirate

Jess 2013 Bday Okie 2

My dear friend Jess a.k.a. the reigning Queen of running late celebrated her 27th Birthday at Martini Republic in downtown Tampa and at CineBistro in Hyde Park Village over the weekend.

…in all actuality, the entire weekend was spent celebrating Aquarius birthdays.  Three birthdays in one night to be exact.

It was a Saturday night.  My favorite gal-pal Jocelyn and I had plans to start off at her college buddy Mark’s birthday at Mangroves, followed by her sorority sister Michelle’s birthday party at what could only be described as mine and every other red-blooded human being’s dream mansion on Davis Island, and ending with Jess’s birthday celebration at Martini Republic.  Jocelyn and I were no strangers to the party-hopping routine, and have in fact become experts on the subject. (For proof, READ: Legally Fabulous post from January 2011.)

Mark 2013 Bday Jocelyn

BIRTHDAY PARTY #1:  I’ve attended quite a few events with Jocelyn where the statement “all of my friends from UT from back in the day will be there” accompanied her invitation.  Those events are always a good time and Jocelyn’s “old school” crew is always welcoming and friendly.  Mark’s 40th birthday party at Mangroves was no exception.  You can’t help but enjoy hearing any group of longtime friends reminisce with past stories that cement their deep-rooted bond and enrich their history with one another.  (Fun Fact:  According to all of the stories I’ve heard at these blast to the past parties, Jocelyn was just as legally fabulous as a college freshman as she is today!)

Michelle 2013 Bday Jocelyn

BIRTHDAY PARTY #2:  On the way from one 40th birthday party to the next, Jocelyn commented on how “40 is the new 30.”  I used to dismiss those type of statements as something we all say to ourselves and one another as a way to help cure our fears of aging, but Jocelyn is 100% correct: getting older just means more money, better jobs, more mistakes made to learn from and an authentic understanding on who your true friends in life are.

Jocelyn’s sorority sister and college cohort Michelle celebrated her 40th birthday party that evening at her house mansion on Davis Island.  The party was a Hawaiian luau themed soiree equipped with a live band and performers, tiki torches, a balloon entrance arch the size of The Hulk, catering and dessert stations… the works.  As evidenced in the photo above, Jocelyn and I only felt it fitting to pose in corny photos as if we were honeymooners aboard a Carnival cruise ship that actually had running water and working toilets.  Aloha!

Jess 2013 Bday Martini Group

BIRTHDAY PARTY #3 and the final celebration of the night for Jess’s 27th birthday.  Her birthday party was a two-parter this year: Saturday night at Martini Republic and Sunday afternoon painfully watching the dreadful Identity Thief movie at CineBistro.

It’s hard to believe that I met Jess five years ago when she was just 22-years-old, new to the Tampa Bay area from Illinois and also newly separated from her husband.  We immediately hit it off when our mutual friend Harry introduced us that one summer night, and we’ve only been going strong ever since.  Seriously, I love that girl despite the truth that she runs 30-minutes late for every planned event, well except her 27th birthday this year.  But of course.

Happy Birthday Jess & all of the other Aquarii in the world!

Jess 2013 Bday Cinebistro Group

 

CLICK ON THUMBNAIL TO ENLARGE PHOTO:

“Losing You” by Solange

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Congratulations, Happy Holidays & Farewell

Congratulations, Cheers, Farewell… it seems that the trend this year was for every celebratory event to conclude with a goodbye.  (Click here.)  I have always disliked saying goodbye and try to make the situation as short, sweet and to-the-point as possible.  Last weekend was yet another weekend filled with commemorative celebrations followed by a goodbye.

I know a handful of people who have been in school since what seems like 48 B.C.  When I first met Bryan 7-8 years ago, I thought that he too would be one of those people I refer to as a lifetime student: a person who takes one class every other semester and swears to the high heavens and Madonna that graduation is the ultimate goal.  Well what do you know?  Last weekend, Bryan graduated from USF with not just his Bachelors but his Masters degree and threw a party to celebrate.   So congratulations to Bryan for busting his ass and working so hard to accomplish his goal, for proving me wrong in my very initial assumption and for putting up with Jocelyn’s 40-balloons graduation gift.

Bryan Okie 1 Bryan Jocelyn 2 Bryan Boys Jocelyn Balloons 2 Jocelyn Balloons 1



After recouping from Bryan’s Greygoose-filled evening the night before, I had a Holiday Dinner with friends to attend at Texas de Brazil the next day.  My good friends Cheri and Mike were in town from Los Angeles for just one day, and maximized their brief time in Tampa by inviting their closest friends to dinner.  Every year, my best friends and I throw a Holiday Party / Gift Exchange.  Given everyone’s crazy schedules this year, Cheri & Mike’s dinner doubled as this year’s Gift Exchange.  As always, it was wonderful to see Cheri and Mike again, to consume 931 lbs of meat at Texas de Brazil and to remind yourself how friends can also become your family.  Happy Holidays and cheers to Cheri, Mike and everyone and anyone else who is reading this!

Cheri Group

Cheri Boys

Cheri Girls

Cheri Okie

Cheri Jocelyn

Cheri Billy

Cheri Linley

Cheri Robby

Cheri Jaime

Cheri JadenCheri NielyCheri Kristin Cheri JonCheri JessCheri Jaime Jaden



The celebratory weekend concluded on a bittersweet note with my friends Jamal and Lorena leaving Tampa and moving to Los Angeles.  I first met Lorena through mutual friends three years ago, and since then we’ve traveled together, lived with one another (best roommate ever), worked together, shared a toy poodle (and the best dog ever) named Zoe and devoured chili dogs and taters in the middle of my living room floor at 4am.  Although I will miss her and Jamal dearly, its encouraging to know that my annual trip to California is right around the corner.  So for now, farewell to Lorena and Jamal.

Okie Lorena Jamal Okie Lorena

 



I willl conclude this entry with a lyric video for the song “I Am Yours” by the band Churchill.  Right now, the band is right on the brink of taking off with their hypnotic and catchy current single “Change” but this particular song has been receiving much more love on my iPod and Spotify.

Congratulations… Cheers… and Goodbye… but Hello to new music!

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