Category Archives: Delray Beach

It Feels Great to Give Back!

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A lobby full of toys!

My employer, BMI Elite, is in the news again, this time for the toy drive we recently held to benefit the kids at Miami Children’s Hospital.

A few weeks ago we began collecting new, wrapped toys for kids who will spend the holidays in the hospital. In addition BMI’s annual holiday toy drive, our own John Mastrangelo organized this special toy drive to benefit his niece, Briana, and her little friends at Miami Children’s Hospital.

This cause is very close and personal to John and his family, as Briana is currently being treated at Miami Children’s for leukemia.  Briana is 10 years old and was diagnosed earlier this year.  She began treatment immediately after her diagnosis and is currently six months into her two year treatment.

John’s wife, daughter and niece Briana

John asked all of us here at BMI to help out by donating a brand new toy, and my team has responded in a big way, collecting dozens of toys for the children ranging from seven months to 17 years old.  They will be delivered to the children throughout the month (donating them periodically will allow them to reach more children as they are admitted to the hospital).

“BMI Elite is always looking for great causes like this one to get involved with,” said our CEO, Brandon Rosen.  “We are very proud and honored to help out the Mastrangelo family and the children at Miami Children’s Hospital.”

It feels great to work at a company that cares about our community and organizations that make the world a better place.  We realize how far a new toy can go for a child in the hospital, which is why everyone has pitched in and helped out.  We cannot wait to see the smiles on the children’s faces when they see their new toys!

To check out the article that was written about us in the Delray Beach Tribune, click here.

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My South Florida Stay-Cation

After spending my last two weekends away in Pittsburgh (one for business, one for fun), it felt good to stay local this weekend.  I didn’t end up sitting on the couch and doing nothing except have a big Dexter marathon like I originally planned; instead I had a good time getting out, eating and enjoying the simple things in my native South Florida.

Friday evening after work, I went to one of my favorite happy hours- a 90-minute vinyasa flow class at Yoga Fox in Delray Beach.  After yoga, Jeremy and I decided to go out for dinner and I was set on trying something new.  We ended up at Fish Shack in Pompano Beach, a restaurant that was recommended to us by a friend.  If she had never checked in and posted an awesome review of it on Facebook, I would’ve never known the place existed.  It’s a little hole in the wall, tucked away in a residential neighborhood in an old, beat-up plaza next door to a convenience store.  If I hadn’t been forewarned about what it looks like on the outside, I’m not sure I would have gone in.

Fish Shack may be a little sketchy on the outside, but I’m really glad we went in because the food was incredible.  The menu mostly consists of local, fresh seafood dishes at extremely reasonable prices.  We ordered buffalo shrimp, fried Ipswich clams and the catch of the day, a red snapper.  At our server’s recommendation, we got it garlic butter-style lightly blackened.  Everything was fresh and delicious, and it only came to about $46.  That same meal would have easily cost $100 in downtown Delray Beach.  I am now a big fan of Fish Shack and I’m looking forward to going back and trying the rest of the items on the menu.

Saturday morning was the kickoff to this season’s Delray Beach Green Market, which is now held in Old School Square each week.  Jeremy came home with two baskets full of fresh local produce, and we had the most incredible brunch- cinnamon buns and Caprese sandwiches of fresh bread, basil, Roma tomatoes and handcrafted burrata mozzarella.

Last Saturday night was also the second Saturday of the month, which means that it was Art Walk in the Wynwood district of Miami.  Each month thousands of people come to Wynwood for a night of art, food, drinks and music in the streets.  The galleries and local businesses stay open later than usual, and dozens of food trucks are parked in a huge lot near NW 21st Street and NW 2nd Avenue. I personally go because I enjoy sampling lots of little snacks from the trucks (unfortunately I have yet to see more than one food truck in Delray at a time) and being inspired by all of the incredible art, both in the galleries and on the streets.  The people-watching is pretty intellectually stimulating as well.

Before heading to Wynwood, Jeremy and I stopped by one of my old stomping grounds, Lincoln Road. I went to “Lincoln” almost daily for the five years that I lived in South Beach and I really miss it sometimes. It felt great to visit one of my favorite book stores/ happy places in the world, Taschen, and to eat the sweet and spicy edamame from Doraku that I always seem to crave.  While I don’t really miss living in Miami, I miss the little things like that.  My friend Nadia, who was my first roommate in Miami, also happened to be in town for the weekend (she now lives in Orlando) and she met us at Doraku.  It was nice to sip lychee martinis just like old times and catch up with her.

Maybe it was the all the food I ate, or maybe it was the lychee martini (most likely the martini), but I did not want to wake up early on Sunday morning at all.  I had originally wanted to so I could join and support Jeremy for part of his long run.  He’s currently training for the New York City marathon, and he wakes up around 4 a.m. every Sunday to do his long run of the week along A1A.  Last week he ran 20 miles!  Instead I slept until 9:30, went to the gym and put the treadmill on the 5k setting.  Once I got warmed up, I ran the 5k with no problem, and kept running until I had gone six miles.  Not too bad for waking up feeling rough.

The rest of my Sunday was spent just taking it easy.  Jer and I went to visit my grandfather and have dinner with him, and then over to visit his grandmother.  When we got home I finally had my Dexter marathon on the couch, went to bed early and started my week off feeling fantastic.  Here’s to a great and productive week!

Jeremy after running 20 miles!

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Eat like Its $19.99!

IN DOWNTOWN DELRAY BEACH

I am all for trying to save a few bucks here and there.  Downtown Delray Beach offers some really good restaurants, but in order to eat at a majority of them it will cost you.  While I consider myself a true foodie who does not mind spending a pretty penny on a delicious meal, I also realize that it’s still possible to eat well for a better price.  I’ve already shared my favorite happy hour spots in downtown Delray Beach.  Now here are a few of my favorite places where it is possible for two people to fill up for $20 or less during the other hours of the day (this does not include drinks, tax and gratuity).

Mellow Mushroom- A medium pizza, which ranges from $17.79 to $21.49 is more than enough for two people.  We always end up boxing up what we can’t finish and eating it for lunch the next day.  In addition to ridiculously good pizza, Mellow Mushroom also has a great selection of hoagies and salads.  Both come in half or whole size portions for about $6 or $9, which make it easy to mix and match if you choose.

Mellow Mushroom is located at 25 SE 6th Ave.; (561) 330-3040

Senor Burrito- Everything comes in huge, sharing-sized portions here.  My boyfriend and I used to order our own entrees, but there was always so much to box up.  I love the salad but the leftovers turn into a soggy mess before I can finish it.  Now when we go we usually order a side of guacamole ($4.50) to go with the warm tortilla chips and salsa and we split the salad with steak ($8.75) or mahi-mahi ($9.25).  Jeremy is a huge fan of Senor Burrito’s homemade flan ($4.50) so we usually end with that.  It’s the perfect amount of food.

Senor Burrito is located at 142 SE 6th Ave.;(561) 278-5757

Granger’s Bar & Grill- This is my favorite little hole-in-the-wall spot to go for good comfort food.  Granger’s has been around for a long time and has that charming old-diner feel to it.  A majority of the food is homemade and it’s always served fresh and in large portions, making it another great spot to share.  We usually start off with an order of the buffalo-style shrimp (they’re $9 and absolutely addicting) or some chili ($3.75 for a good-sized cup or $7.25 for a huge bowl).  The entrees range from $7 to $14.  My personal favorites are the grilled chicken and shrimp caesar salad and the Cajun chicken Philly.  I have also heard rave reviews about the mile-high meatloaf that is served on Saturdays and the smoked BBQ ribs that are served on Wednesdays.

Granger’s is located at 215 NE 6th Ave.; (561) 276-7881

Green Owl- The patio at The Green Owl is a great place to sit outside on the Ave. for an affordable breakfast, lunch or even dinner when it’s open late during season.  Breakfast can be as cheap as $2.50 for an egg and toast or $6.25 for the “Big Breakfast,” which includes three eggs, two strips of bacon, one sausage link and a choice of home fries or grits and a hotcake or toast.  The lunch plates and sandwiches cost from $4.95 to $6.95 and from the months of December- April the restaurant extends their hours to serve dinner.  They have nightly specials and encourage guests to “BYOB.”  The best part of that is that there’s no cork fee!

The Green Owl is located at 330 E Atlantic Ave.; (561) 272-7766

Vic & Angelo’s- A dinner date here is not going to be cheap if you order from a majority of the menu, but the specialty pizzas are huge, affordable and delicious.  The prices range from $14.95 to $20.95, and for about $2 each you can add on toppings including caramelized onions, meatballs, artichokes and prosciutto di parma.  My personal favorites are the Mulberry Street, Grand Street and Truffle & Wild Mushrooms pizzas.

Vic & Angelo’s is located at 290 East Atlantic Avenue; (561) 278-9570

BurgerFi- All natural burgers range from $6 to $10 and a hotdog will cost you around $4.  My recommendation for two people is to get two burgers or hotdogs (or one of each) and to split a large order of fries with chili and cheese ($6) or parmesan cheese and herbs ($5).  Also worth mentioning is the frozen custard shakes and malts, and sundaes.  They’re about $5 to $7 and are absolutely delicious.

BurgerFi is located at 6 South Ocean Blvd.; (561) 278-9590

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Sunscreen- What The SPF?

Yesterday was one of the most beautiful summer days at Delray Beach.  There was a cool breeze, not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly.  I quickly sprayed on some Neutrogena sunblock and laid down to bake.  My boyfriend meticulously piled on his 70 SPF sunscreen and I laughed at the thick white layer on his skin that just didn’t seem to fade no matter how hard he rubbed it in.

Jeremy got the last laugh though.  My face is bright red today and it hurts.  In addition to not putting enough sunscreen on my face, I also missed random spots on my chest, arms and stomach.

After a bad sunburn a few weeks ago, Jeremy refuses to use that Neutrogena spray that I used.  He now swears by the thick, sticky lotions with the highest SPF possible.  Four, 8, 15, 30, 45, 70, SPF, UVA, UVB- WTF?  What do all those numbers mean, and what should you consider when shopping for sunscreen?  I always feel a little overwhelmed when trying to decide which one might be best for me, so I have done a little research to figure out what it all means.

We use sunscreen to block ultraviolet light from damaging the skin. There are two categories of UV light- UVB causes sunburn, and UVA has more long-term damaging effects on the skin, like premature aging.  Too much sun exposure over time can take quite a toll, but sunscreen plays an important role in protecting your skin against sunburn, wrinkles, premature aging and skin cancer.  It should be applied anytime you plan on being outdoors, even just for a little while.  You don’t want to end up looking like this lady:

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, but the higher the number does not necessarily mean that it’s better.  The SPF number is simply a standard for how long you can tolerate the sun without burning.  For example, if you can stay in the sun for 10 minutes without burning, an SPF of 15 should allow you to spend 150 minutes out in the sun before burning.  This is assuming that you are using the ideal amount of sunscreen, which is enough to fill a shot glass.

Before you grab your calculator and head to the beach, you should know that this equation is not always accurate and doesn’t cover everything.  A higher SPF number may mean more sun-exposure time, but UVB absorption must be considered as well.  People get confused because the absorption number does not increase exponentially with a higher SPF.  For example, an SPF of 15 absorbs 93.3 percent of UVB rays, but an SPF of 30 absorbs 96.7 percent. The SPF number has doubled, but the absorption rate has increased by only 3.4 percent.

Because of this, according to the FDA, anything higher than 30 SPF is not much better than 30.  The bottom line is that you should be wearing enough SPF 30 with broad-spectrum UVA/ UVB protection and reapplying often.  Remember to reapply after going swimming or sweating a lot, because despite being advertised as waterproof, all sunscreens decrease in effectiveness when exposed to water.

Sunscreen use alone will not prevent all of the possible harmful effects of the sun.  It is also important to limit your time in the sun and wear protective clothing and a hat to protect your face.  Here are a few other random facts that will help you protect your skin:

  • The sun’s rays are the strongest from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, especially during the late spring and summer.
  • Reflected glare from water and snow also can increase your exposure to UV radiation.
  • Sunscreen typically maintains its strength for about 3 years. After that time period, it is less effective.
  • Apply sunscreen at least a half-hour before you go outside.
  • Up to 80% of your total lifetime sun exposure is likely to take place before you reach the age of 18.
  • Make-up with SPF isn’t enough to protect your skin.
  • Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. It accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States.

Stay safe, my friends!

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The Best Happy Hours in Delray Beach

Buddha Sky Bar is my ultimate favorite.  I try to take it in as much as possible during the summer, because in season it’s nearly impossible to get a spot to sit.  Unlike most other spots on the Ave, during the busy winter months happy hour really is only an hour, from 5 to 6 p.m.  It is extended until 7 p.m. during the summer.  Keep in mind though that it’s only open Wednesday-Sunday in the summer.

All of the food is fresh and delicious at Buddha Sky Bar.  I’ve been many times and tried a majority of the menu, and I have yet to have something that wasn’t incredible.  Some of the portions are on the small side and at regular price the food is expensive, but it’s completely reasonable at happy hour.  Half off sushi, appetizers, dim sum and select drinks.  My personal favorites are the Handsome Rob roll (pictured below), miso cod skewers, Wagyu-beef skewers, Peruvian-style ceviche and the Shiso Zen Passion cocktail.  The service is friendly and efficient and the ambiance is great.  I love this place because it never fails to make me happy.

Buddha Sky Bar is located at 217 East Atlantic Avenue; 561-450-7557

Vic & Angelo’s is a great place to see and be seen while enjoying half-priced drinks and appetizers.  The bar is huge, and you have the option of being inside or outside, which is beautiful when the weather is nice.  The only downside to the outside bar is that it’s about 20 feet away from the railroad tracks.  When a train goes by, which they often do, it gets LOUD.

The food is good and the portions are large.  My favorite happy hour appetizers are the grilled octopus, stuffed squash blossoms and the oregenatta trio (lobster, shrimp and calamari sprinkled with Italian breadcrumbs and lemon).  Not listed on the happy hour menu, but still worth mentioning is their pizza.  The Mulberry Street is my favorite pizza on the Ave.

Happy hour runs from 3-7 p.m. and again from 10-close every day.

Vic & Angelos is located at 290 East Atlantic Ave; 561- 278-9570

Cut432’s “social hour” offers $3 wines, $4 well drink and yummy appetizers including truffled mac ($5), mini burgers ($4), pancetta Brussel sprouts ($5) and oysters Rockefeller ($4).  For $4 you can also try their homemade fruit-infused vodka, which is great on the rocks or served up.  This is the best deal in the house- Cut’s bartenders pour quite heavily and I felt fantastic after just one.

Cut432 is located at 432 East Atlantic Avenue; 561-272-9898

 

Union offers some of the best deals around, but they recently made their happy hour even happier.  They were already known for their 3-for-1 drinks and 50% off the entire food menu and you don’t even have to sit at the bar- it’s happy hour throughout the whole restaurant.  They have now extended their normal happy hours (5-7 p.m.) until 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  In order to take advantage of this special pricing you will need to get a Union card. You can get yours by visiting the restaurant in person, visiting Uniondelray.com or facebook.com/uniondelraybeach.

My favorite items on Union’s menu are the Gochujang lollipop chicken wings, shrimp dumplings, Union tuna stack, and make sure not to skip the wok-seared Brussels sprouts (pictured below).  For cocktails, I recommend The Kiwi and Union’s variety of fruity margaritas and mojitos (strawberry, blackberry, mango).

Union Delray is located at 8 East Atlantic Ave; 561-330-4236

The Office has recently expanded their happy hour menu to include more half-priced appetizers and it also now includes 50% off on all drinks (excluding bottles).  Like Vic & Angelo’s, The Office offers both indoor and outdoor bar seating, making it a place for not only people, but also dogs, to socialize.  The bartenders are friendly and will gladly give you water for your pooch.

The Office is one of the few places on the Ave. to actually eat healthy during happy hour, as the half-price menu features five salads.  My personal favorite is the horiatiki, their take on the classic Greek salad.  My other recommendations are the buffalo wings, the tomato and burrata mozzarella salad and the Shu-Mai dumplings.  For cocktails I recommend the Creamsicle and Office Elixir martinis and the Bloody Elixir, which is basically a Bloody Mary with bacon, olive juice and horseradish.

Happy hour runs from 3-7 p.m. and again from 10-close every day.  However, the appetizers are not offered at half price late-night.

The Office is located at 201 East Atlantic Avenue; 561-276-3600

Breathe is a little off the beaten path, but definitely worth checking out.  It offers happy hour Monday- Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., featuring half-priced drinks and $6 appetizers at its beautiful bar.  Some of my favorites were the stuffed portabella, mussels Harissa style (very spicy) and the Mediterranean place.  The bar and lounge area is quite spacious, making it a good place to host a party or event.

Breathe is located at 401 West Atlantic Avenue; 561-330-4526

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My Buddy Homer

For my first challenge, I have decided to make a conscious effort to do something nice every day for 30 days.  I figured this was a good challenge to begin with, as it’s one that will make me feel good and shouldn’t be too hard (I try to be a good person as it is).

Day 1:  For my good deed today, I donated old towels and bed sheets to the Tri-County Humane Society in Boca Raton, Florida.  They were too old and ratty to even be donated to Goodwill, but to the animal shelter, they were like gold.  The woman at the desk got all excited and told me that they would be used for the new litter of puppies that just came in.  It made me feel so glad that I can help.

I did not get to meet the puppies who will be enjoying my old towels, but I did make a new friend there.  As I was walking back out to my car, I saw a big, gated pen.  Curious, I walked up to it and read the sign explaining that it was home to Homer, an overweight pig.  Homer was rolling around in a baby pool of mud when I walked up and although he saw me, he wasn’t very interested.  I called out his name, which caused him to look back up, step out of his pool and hobble over to me.  He hung out against the fence near me while I talked to him for a few minutes.  If I had lots of property I would be really tempted to adopt Homer.  He’s a sweet, intelligent little guy and I hope he finds a nice, loving home soon.

For more information about the Tri-County Humane Society, click here: http://tricountyhumane.org/

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Last week this summer’s “On the Ave” event kicked off with a circus theme, so Jeremy and I walked down the street to check it out. There were circus performers spread out throughout the streets, walking on stilts, dancing with fire, making balloon hats and bending their bodies in ways that just look painful. I haven’t been to the circus in years (and I don’t support them because I don’t believe in the animal cruelty that takes place at them). Luckily I saw no poor animals and I was having a blast. I felt like a little kid and wanted Jeremy, who is not quite as giddy and immature as me, to feel the same way. I decided that he should get his face painted. Being the great, easygoing boyfriend that he is, he agreed after I promised to do it too. And he could pick what was going to be painted on my face.  Sure, why not? I love being outrageous as much as possible.

Fifteen minutes later we were painted like little black cats and continued down the Ave. I had read that there was going to be a trapeze that you could pay and sign up to try. We came across it and I got a little knot in my stomach. I’ve always wanted to swing on one but I’m aeroacrophobic, or absolutely terrified of heights. This is something that definitely began in my adult life.  As a child I’d climb to the top of trees or jump off the roof into the pool with no fear.  Now I don’t even like climbing on the kitchen counter to reach something on the top shelf, so was I really going to climb this crazy ladder onto a little platform with no rails and then jump?

I guess I love trying new things and taking up on opportunities a little more than I’m afraid of heights. How many times is there going to be a trapeze in front of me that I can swing from for only $20? YOLO.

“What am I afraid of?  Getting hurt?  Dying?” I asked myself.  “What are the odds? You’ll regret not doing it.”  I’ve told myself this many times, before I zip-lined and jumped off cliffs in Jamaica and before I did the bungee free-fall at Six Flags.  I have accepted that while I may never overcome my fear of heights, I can at least make myself stronger than it for a few minutes.  Experience something new.  Say I did it.  Get the adrenaline pumping.  There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes after completing something that scares you.  I love it.

I signed my life away, strapped on the belt, told Jeremy to take lots of pictures and climbed the ladder without looking back (or down).  The worst part was the few seconds where I had to bend my knees and lean over the edge of the platform.  But once I was flying, I let go of all fear and made it the best experience possible.  I figured that I was already painted like a cat and flying on a trapeze, so why not hang from my knees and do a flip as well?  I’m glad to say that I can cross that one off my bucket list.

“On the Ave” events take place throughout the summer on selected Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach is blocked off to traffic and replaced with live music, open house specials, gallery exhibitions and other fun little things to take in.

Casey Kurlander, Search marketing Specialist, BMI Elite