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Patti Ewald, Times Staff Writer

Patti Ewald

Patti Ewald joined the Tampa Bay Times in January 2012 after working as a correspondent covering Gulfport for two years. She is a features writer and the editor of the monthly LifeTimes section. A graduate of Ohio State University, she has a hard time rooting for the Gators, but beyond that, she loves everything Florida. She's a lifelong journalist — having last worked as the managing editor of a suburban Cleveland newspaper before moving to Gulfport in 2008.

Phone: (727) 893-8746


  1. Neighborhood Profile: Valrico Forest

    Home and Garden


    Turn right at the cows.

    It's true. To get to Valrico Forest, take the State Road 60 exit off Interstate 75 south. Go about 6 miles east, past hundreds of other businesses that line the congested six-lane road.

    At Miller Road, right in the midst of this commercial strip sharing a block with a Speedway gas station and a Burger King, is a tree-dotted pasture on which a bunch of cows graze. That's where you turn....

    The Bynum family home was one of the first built in the 94-home Valrico Forest subdivision. Parents Jeff and Valerie and their children, Levi, 4; Keeley, 13, holding Surprise; and Noble, 10, love living on their quiet cul-de-sac.
  2. Neighborhood Profile: Countryway, Hillsborough County

    Real Estate


    Jennifer Bush's roots are firmly planted in Countryway. She grew up in the sprawling neighborhood of more than 1,500 homes on tree-lined streets that wind around ponds and small lakes just north of Old Tampa Bay.

    So, it just made sense that when she and her husband, Jay, got married in 2009, that's where they would look to buy a house. With the help of her stepfather, Jim Sacarello, a real estate agent who also lives in Countryway, where he is chairman of the landscape committee, they found a perfect place — a 2,200-square-foot house with four bedrooms and a cozy back yard. It was perfect....

    Jennifer Bush grew up in Countryway, where she now lives with her husband Jay and son J.W., who will turn 1 soon.
  3. Neighborhood Profile: Belleview Island, Belleair

    Home and Garden

    Like an unkempt sentry with torn clothes and rotting teeth, the shut-down Belleview Biltmore Hotel stands guard at the entrance to the exclusive Belleview Island.

    The ghosts of baseball legends Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, railroad tycoon Henry Plant and the other former bigwigs who are said to roam the halls of the 118-year-old wooden hotel are the phantasmal neighbors of the residents that must pass by to get to their 31 multimillion-dollar waterfront homes on the 21-acre island on the Intracoastal Waterway....

    Tampa Bay Sports Cars owner Charley Grose, with his standard poodle, Oliver, has both his Belleview Island home and his Porsche 356 replica decked out for the holidays. Grose purchased the home in 2010.
  4. Neighborhood Profile: Tierra Verde, Pinellas County

    Home and Garden


    Lisa and Jeff Dressel were sitting in their hotel room waiting for the real estate agent to pick them up and show them houses for sale in the Tampa Bay area, especially along the Interstate 275 corridor between Tampa and St. Petersburg. It was 1994.

    Jeff, a financial service intermediary, was being transferred from Chicago, and although the Dressels, at that time parents of two small children, didn't want to be right on the water, they wanted to be close....

    An artist made the concrete decking around the pool look like flagstone.
  5. Picking best Medicare plan can save you money

    Life Times

    Comparison shopping is only fun when comparing the price of things one's heart desires — like a designer purse, a new car or tortilla chips.

    Looking for the best price on life's boring necessities — car insurance, a washer and dryer, pool chemicals — not so much.

    Same goes for the pain of having to slog through mountains of data and numbers trying to find the best Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. But, at open enrollment time, which is now, everyone 65 and older who wants health care (and enough money left over to be able to eat) must put down his or her head and ... Figure. It. Out....

    Picking best Medicare plan can save you money
  6. Rock star promoter has music industry stories to share

    Life Times

    When you're a young boy growing up in Manchester, England, it's tough not to dream of one day becoming a world-class soccer player.

    Tony Michaelides, a 61-year-old bubbly bloke with an alarmingly pleasant disposition and a thick British accent who now lives in Pass-a-Grille, dreamed of just that during his childhood in northern England. He spent hours and hours every day kicking around a soccer ball. ...

    Tony Michaelides spent time with members of U2 between tour stops in 1982. From left: Dennis Sheehan, U2 tour manager, holds Michaelides’ daughter, Jessica; Michaelides; Allison, Bono’s then-girlfriend, now wife; Bono; two representatives from Island Records; U2 drummer Larry Mullan; Adam Clayton, bass player; and the Edge in the center.
  7. Neighborhood Profile: On the water in Apollo Beach

    Home and Garden


    There are few hidden pockets of remote, underdeveloped waterfront properties in the Tampa Bay area.

    But the southeast corner of Tampa Bay, including Apollo Beach and its surrounding bay flats and marshes is one of those places.

    And, when a job transfer moved Greg Seibert and his family across the state from Jupiter, they discovered it. Seibert, who sells medical equipment to hospitals, was reassigned to cover the territory between St. Petersburg and Naples. He could live anywhere in that stretch....

    Kristy and Greg Seibert with their daughters, Hayley, 11, and Hannah, 8, in front of their home in Apollo Beach. Their rescued golden retriever, Beau, is always nearby.
  8. 1957 Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist had picture taken with Ronald Reagan

    Human Interest

    The first time 87-year-old Lorraine Edie saw color television, she was on it.

    As a finalist in the ninth Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1957, Edie had been invited to appear on Meet the Millers, a popular Buffalo, N.Y., talk show.

    Though her recipe for Whole Wheat Caramel Rolls didn't win, she still has fond memories — especially every year around Bake-Off time — of competing in Beverly Hills, Calif., for the then-grand prize of $25,000. This year's Bake-Off, the 47th (there was not a bake-off every year), will be held Nov. 2-4 in Nashville, and the grand prize winner takes home $1 million. ...

    Lorraine Edie wears the Pillsbury apron given to her in 1957 when she was the only finalist from New York.
  9. When it comes to senior moments, use your age wisely

    Life Times

    The other day, I walked into the kitchen and noticed the cats' water dish was almost empty. I grabbed a glass out of the cupboard, walked over to the sink and filled it up.

    I turned off the faucet and momentarily forgot why I had filled the glass with water. Then I walked into the living room and dumped it in a potted plant.

    When I returned to put the glass back in the kitchen, I once again spotted the nearly empty cat bowl. ...

  10. Tampa Bay Bake-Off finalists give secret to winning $1 million


    Two Tampa Bay area women are once again so close to winning $1 million they can almost taste it — or, at least, smell it in the oven.

    Marie Valdes, 55, of Brandon and Anna Zovko, 81, of Tampa are among the 100 finalists who will compete for the grand prize money at the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off on Nov. 3 in Nashville.

    And they are also among the 45 of those 100 who are have been there before. Though it seems as if it would be a long shot to be chosen twice — let alone three times, as Zovko has been — out of the tens of thousands of recipes submitted to every contest, Pillsbury said, nearly half the winning entrants seem to know the secret of getting to the top....

    Spinach Dip-Stuffed Garlic Rolls made by Marie Valdes of Brandon.
  11. Jane Goodall asks you to think about what you eat, buy and wear (w/video)

    Life Times

    Jane Goodall no longer spends her days crouched on the floor of a rainforest studying chimpanzees making tools, raising their young or folding branch over branch to make nests in which to sleep high in the trees.

    The 80-year-old scientist now spends 300 days a year standing at podiums, sitting in boardrooms, and addressing groups of people, young and old, about the importance of doing everything we can every day to preserve and save the earth....

    Goodall and Rebeca Atencia, who was one of Wounda’s primary caregivers, watch as she leaves the cage.
  12. Lipstick is part of her makeup; generosity is part of his

    Life Times

    Doc was shopping for shirts and ties back in the Big and Tall department.

    I was excited to help him — for about seven minutes. Shopping for men's dress shirts is about as fun as emptying the dishwasher.

    "I'm going up to the makeup counter. Come get me when you're done, okay?" I told him as I went scurrying up to get my Free Gift with purchase, a marketing strategy so brilliant cosmetic companies do it on a regular basis. ...

  13. Neighborhood Profile: Meadow Pointe, Wesley Chapel

    Neighborhood Profile: Meadow Pointe, Wesley Chapel, Pasco County

    Home and Garden


    When Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again, he obviously didn't know Nicole Nodal.

    The registered nurse and work-at-home mom grew up in Wesley Chapel so, after a short stint in New Tampa, the then-pregnant-with-her-third-child Nodal moved back in 2009.

    She chose Meadow Pointe. It's not the exact neighborhood in which she grew up but it was the neighborhood in which many of her friends lived. It was familiar. She was home....

    A frog watches over the dancing water in the sprinklers near one of the four clubhouse pools in Meadow Pointe.
  14. Dad fights way back from stroke with pluck and laughter

    Life Times

    My dad had a slight stroke — an oxymoron if ever there was one.

    He's recovering from the cruel trick his 81-year-old body played on him, rendering his left arm and leg almost useless. Six months later, that hand and foot still seem to have minds of their own but the 6-foot-4 father of five with a heart of gold and a full head of silver hair will not be defeated.

    When he reaches for something with his left hand, it's as if he's a human claw machine, his brain deliberating its movement the way in which one determines the direction to move the claw hovering over a pile of plush toys. When his hand hits its mark, it clamps on just the way the claw does....

  15. A bike tour of all 50 states? Retired teacher, 71, did just that

    Human Interest

    Dressed in a blue Bike Around Kansas souvenir T-shirt and capri pants, Dianne Franz, 71, moves her 5-foot-9 frame gingerly about her tidy Palm Harbor condo.

    The retired middle school teacher, originally from Long Island, points to a map of the United States that takes up most of one wall in her study. It's dotted from east to west and north to south with dozens of yellow Magic Marker lines — and that's what she wants to talk about....

    Dianne Franz, 71, standing in front of a wall map on which she traced the routes of all her bike tours, holds a keepsake map laden with charms and pictures that her best cycling and Scrabble-playing (note the letter tiles) buddy, Linda Tilley, made for her. Franz biked her 50th state, Kansas, in June.