Clearwater Uncorked 2017 Review

Disclosure: I attended the festival free of charge, however all opinions are my own.

The Clearwater Beach Uncorked festival takes place right on the beach next to Clearwater’s famous Pier 60. It’s a fabulous time to enjoy amazing food, drinks, and weather (December in central Florida is the best!) I had the opportunity to attend the festival for the first time, and it did not disappoint. 

Bobby and I checked in and were given media passes as well as some goodies before meeting up for a special presentation. The weather was PERFECT and I couldn’t wait to see all the fun things this day would bring.

The way the festival works is there are general admission passes and VIP passes for purchase. VIP’s get access to the tasting village at noon, while everyone else waits until 1:00. VIP’s also had access to an outdoor lounge by the pool at the Wyndham across the street. The lounge was open from 1:00-5:00, and the tasting village was open until 4:00. Media got to sneak in early before the madness and take some photos and here all about chocolates and desserts.

We toasted to the festival with the most adorable bottles of champagne.

And were treated to the most delicious chocolates I have ever tasted from Norman Love. (My favorite was the almond and chocolate one, I’m trying to figure out how to get my hands on more as we speak!)

We also heard from Norman himself.

Cake pops were also had by all (red velvet was delicious!)

After the dessert indulgence, it was time for us to work backwards and start tasting all the food and beverages in the tent.

There were so many options we really didn’t know where to start! Everyone was so friendly and answered all of our questions.

When I saw someone handing these bad boys out, I was so pumped. What a perfect invention! It was hard to eat and hold your drink at the same time, so, problem solved!

After awhile we decided to head over to the outdoor VIP lounge at the Wyndham across the street.

Patron popsicles? Yes please! I may have had more than one…

Again, so many options, and generous portions and as many seconds (or thirds) as you wanted!

Again, the weather was so perfect and the location was on point, and we couldn’t have asked for a better day with great food and great (and some new!) friends.

My only wish would be that it was open longer! I didn’t get a chance to visit all the booths because there were just too many and we only had four hours. I vote for opening an hour early next year. That would be my only criticism. 🙂

If you have the chance to go to Clearwater Uncorked next year, I would highly recommend it, totally worth the money. I have gone to a lot of events in the short year I have been in Tampa, but this one is near, if not at the top of the list!

To see more photos from the event search hashtags #UncorkedWeekend and #CLBU17. Fair warning, it will make you hungry!

Why You Should Workout This Winter

Even though I live in Florida, temperatures are still finally starting to drop (hallelujah!) While this makes me happy, especially around the holidays, it also makes me want to curl up on the couch with a Halmark movie–er…book…and just…not move. While this sounds quite relaxing, it’s not exactly beneficial to my waistline. So, on behalf of EcoDrink, a healthy and easy way to get your vitamins every day, I’d like to share with you 5 reasons to take your workouts outside this winter:

1.) General Happiness: Exercise increases your endorphin levels which in turn can put you in a better mood, but did you also know the effect is heightened when exercising in the cold? This is due to the fact that you have to work harder in cold weather, so your endorphin production is boosted more than normal, and in turn, your happiness level. Confession: Whenever someone talks about endorphins and happiness I think of the movie Legally Blonde!

2.) Vitamin D boost: Did you know that about 80 to 90 percent of your vitamin D comes from the sun?  It’s pretty easy and fairly common for people to become vitamin D deficient in the colder months since they aren’t spending time outdoors. (Well, unless you live in Florida like me!) Vitamin D helps to keep your bones and immune system strong, and can also give you an additional dose of happiness.

3.) Burn more calories: Cold weather causes your body to regulate its temperature better meaning you can exercise for longer and burn more calories. Does shivering count as a workout? This sounds like a win to me!

4.) Less sick time: Some studies have found that regular outside exercise in the cold helps reduce the risk of flu by 20 to 30 percent. Through low-temperature training, the body adapts to the cold weather and, with time, strengthens the immune system against it. A a mother of a germy preschooler, this gets two thumbs up from me.

5.) It pairs well with EcoDrink: The EcoDrink Multivitamin is a healthy and convenient way to get your recommended daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals. Full of electrolytes and antioxidants to keep you hydrated and healthy, EcoDrink is a refreshing and delicious thirst quencher that provides energy and aids in muscle recovery after your workout to make the most of your time. It’s also a great way to get in extra water. Just pour the powder in 16 oz, shake, and enjoy! Also, EcoDrink Naturals is made with stevia, not sucralose and can be found on Amazon!.

ecodrink

The folks at Eco Drink have offered for me to run a GIVEAWAY for two lucky readers. Two people will each get two boxes of the flavor of their choice mailed to them to try out (they are all yummy!) Please follow the instructions below, and the giveaway ends at midnight on 11/26. Good luck!

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by EcoDrink, however all opinions are my own.

Cabot Fit Team Weekend Part 2 + Giveaway

Disclosure: A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to go to Narragansett, Rhode Island with Cabot Cheese and their fit team. We did a lot of fun fun like run a 10k, visit a farm, and have a cheese tasting. This trip was sponsored by Cabot, however all thoughts are my own. 

*If you missed part one, be sure to check it out here.

We left off in my last post with our tour of EMMA Acres farm. After the tour, we drove over to a historical site, the Towers, and had lunch during a super fun trolley tour of Narragansett. There is so much history in the town so it was fun to hear all about it.

How adorable is our trolley bus?

This is one of my favorite homes we passed along the ocean:

After the tour we walked around inside the Towers and saw them setting up for a gorgeous wedding!

We briefly walked out onto the balcony before the storm hit. See the beach in this picture? That’s where the 10k would end the next day.

back to the Inn as it started to rain. This was the perfect opportunity to dig into my bag of snacks from Cabot and take a nap. Rainy days are perfect for that!

Soon it was time to walk to dinner (Have I mentioned how much I LOVED being able to walk everywhere?!?) at Trio. It was delicious, and a great pre-race meal at that.

After dinner we called it an early night since we were running the Ocean Road 10k in the morning! (You can read that recap here.)

After the race, we walked back to the Inn, grabbed showers then walked down to this cute little outdoor restaurant. It happened to be it’s last day of operation until spring. It was so wild to me that so many places “close up” for the winter, when it’s currently still in the 90’s in Florida.

The weather was absolutely perfect and we all enjoyed a light lunch and some girl talk before walking out onto some rocks for an impromptu photo shoot.

Then you guessed it, time to WALK (I love it!) again to a bed and breakfast where Cabot was hosting a cheese tasting for us. Yall. This place was gorgeous, and also for sale!

It was the perfect day to enjoy the tasting in the beautifully manicured backyard.

Although I have to say my favorite part of the house was the screened in porch. I could sit out there for hours!

We learned a little about the different cheeses and the aging process before trying everything ourselves. I learned a lot, I had no idea some of the processes were so long, and also how many different varieties there were–not to mention all the different pairings!

That evening we walked to dinner at the Coast Guard House for our farewell meal. It was right on the water and had gorgeous views.

It was a great way to recap the weekend and enjoy each other’s company before we would say farewell the next day.

Clockwise from bottom left: Sara and Caisil from Cabot, Christy, Brittany and Diahnn, Nellie, Sandra, me, Aggie, and Amee.

It’s amazing to me how quickly I got to know these sweet girls, and how hard it was to say goodbye after only knowing them for a couple of days. I hope to see them again soon. I learned a lot about Cabot, and have a new respect for the farmers, families, and workers that make my dairy eating experience so effortless and amazing! I also fell in love with Narragansett, although this southern girl wouldn’t want to be there in the winter!

A huge thanks to Cabot for their generosity, knowledge, and love. It won’t be forgotten. Now for the giveaway! One reader will win:

$25 Cabot Gift Box
1 Dopper Water Bottle
1 Guac-Lock
1 Cabot Beewax Wrap
Badger Products

$100 value give-a-way

Please follow the directions in the Rafflecoptor widget to enter. Winner will be announced next Friday. Giveaway open until Thursday night at midnight.

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Cabot Fit Team Weekend Part 1

Disclosure: A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to go to Narragansett, Rhode Island with Cabot Cheese and their fit team. We did a lot of fun fun like run a 10k, visit a farm, and have a cheese tasting. This trip was sponsored by Cabot, however all thoughts are my own. 

I arrived in Rhode Island on Friday afternoon after a long morning of flying with a layover in D.C. I was so happy to finally be there! Another fit team member, Aggie, and I shared a cab to the Ocean Rose Inn where we were staying, and were pleasantly surprised to see it was right on the water!

We checked in, and got settled into our rooms. Mine was in the building behind the Inn and had been refurbished. I loved the simple clean vibe, and had a great view of the ocean.

Check out the retro refrigerator and phone!

The bathroom sink area was adorable as well.

I had a couple of hours until dinner….so I took a nap. It was glorious. Nowhere to be, perfect weather outside, the ocean, it was bliss for this tired mama. Soon enough we met up with everyone in the lobby and had drinks and dinner at Turtle soup, which is the restaurant at the inn. It. was. delicious.

We called it an early night because we had a big day on Saturday, we were going to visit EMMA Acres farm! Unfortunately we woke up to cold, wind and rain, but that didn’t stop us. We grabbed our rain jackets, and headed out.

So for those that don’t know, Cabot is a co-op owned by farm families in New York and New England (more on Co-ops here). I loved getting to talk with the family that owns EMMA Acres and learn the process of milking the cows and all that goes along with it. These people work SO HARD every day, rain or shine. We even learned about birthing cows and got to see some adorable babies!

We even got to see the milk tank and where they do the milking, which happens twice a day. Very early in the morning and at night. The cows know exactly where to go and are such creatures of habit!

Did you know a cow gets stressed in heat over 70 degrees? They had fans in the room where they are milked for the summertime! (I don’t think they would do well at my house in Tampa!)

This farm is a smaller farm, but equally important to Cabot (and as consumers, should be to us, too!) A huge thank you to them for spending part of their busy day educating us and letting us love on their cows!

 

 

 

Weekend with Cabot

Hey guys! I can’t believe it snuck up on me so quickly, but I will be flying out to Rhode Island tomorrow morning to hang out with Cabot! I have a layover in D.C before heading to Providence, where I will meet up with the rest of the team at the Ocean Rose Inn, which is where we will be staying for the weekend. It looks like such a fun and interesting place, and apparently the town is pretty walkable. I can’t wait!

We have dinner at the Inn tomorrow night, then Saturday we are going to visit a farm and learn all about how Cabot works with the farmers. Don’t worry, I will be doing lots of Instagram stories.

Then we have an early dinner followed by an early bedtime, because Sunday morning we are running the Ocean Road 10k.

The fun doesn’t stop there, we have a cheese tasting (duh), and another fun dinner before departing on Monday morning. I hope you will follow along with the fun! I will be using #CabotFit on all my posts, so you can always find me that way. Have a great weekend everyone.

 

Protein on the Go

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Premier Protein . The opinions and text are all mine.

I workout a lot, but for some reason I am constantly struggling to get enough protein in my diet. I don’t eat fish, so am limited to chicken and beef mainly, and well lets face it, that can get old after awhile and hard to eat at every meal. I am also the mom to a busy little girl, and our household is always on the move. A lot of days I just need something quick to eat or drink that requires little effort but is still healthy. Since it’s so hot in Florida for the better part of the year, I had taken to making smoothies a good bit for breakfast or lunch. While this is an easy on the go meal, it can still take a lot of time to prepare.

I was super stoked to see the Premier Protein shakes at Costco, and was shocked to see that the contained 30 grams of protein! That’s a LOT for a small container guys. They are only 160 calories, and have one gram of sugar. The three flavors are Chocolate, vanilla, and bananas and cream (my current fave.)

Even more exciting is that for a limited time you can get $5 off an 18 pack of shakes at Costco. Good nutrition and a good deal, now we are speaking my language.

I have been drinking 4-5 of these guys a week now and I can honestly say not only do they taste good, but they keep me full. Since I work from home, I am prone to snack a lot (confession, I know.) But after drinking one of these shakes I don’t even want to go neat the pantry because they fill me up.
Also, after a hard workout I often have a hard time stomaching most food for an hour or so, but KNOW it’s important that I refuel within the first 30 minutes to recover. The liquid nature of the drink is so much easier on my stomach and something I can drink right after a workout without problems.

For those days when I do have time to make a smoothie, I am always looking for new recipes. Check this fruity one out:

TROPICAL SUNRISE SMOOTHIE
INGREDIENTS OF MANGO SMOOTHIE:
• 1/2 cup Premier Protein Bananas & Cream shake
• 2 frozen bananas
• 1 cup frozen mango
• 1 sliced orange
INGREDIENTS OF BERRY SMOOTHIE:
• 1/2 cup Premier Protein Bananas & Cream shake
• 2 cups frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries)
• 1 frozen banana
DIRECTIONS:
1. Place all mango smoothie ingredients into blender.
2. Blend until smooth and pour into glass.
3. Rinse blender container.
4. Place berry ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
5. Pour berry layer on top of mango smoothie. Enjoy!

Don’t forget, for a limited time you can get $5 off an 18 pack of Premier Protein shakes at Costco.

QOTD: What is your favorite type of protein smoothie? Recipe? 

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Premier Protein . The opinions and text are all mine.

Tampa Tuesdays: Carnival Goes to Cuba

Last week, Megan and I were invited to a special celebration aboard the Carnival Paradise at the port of Tampa. This celebration was marking the first of twelve special voyages to Havana, Cuba over the next year.

La Nacional Hotel, Havana, Cuba

The celebration on board the ship was as colorful as Cuba itself, with the largest Cuban Sandwich at sea,

delicious drinks,

 

Cuban food,

and a big check donated to the Ybor city museum!

We danced with Senior Cruise Director John Heald, and got super excited for everyone onboard sailing off to Cuba that afternoon.

Sadly, we had to disembark the ship, but I saw some wonderful photos already from the first voyage! (Search #CCL2Cuba or #CarnivaltoCuba for great shots on Instagram!)

Each cruise is four or five days in length, and includes an overnight stay in port, giving travelers a rare glimpse into Havana at night. Also, some of the itineraries include a stop in either Key West or Cozumel. What is there to do in Havana you ask? So much! Carnival can help connect you with local guides familiar with the food, music, and history of Cuba. With 16 shore excursions, I’m sure you will find something to do for the whole family.

On top of visiting Havana, you will be on board the Carnival Paradise. A Fantasy class ship holding 2,052 passengers (the largest to ever sail to Cuba) with fun on board activities like a water slide, Seuss at Sea kids activities, Spa Carnival, and the Serenity adults only area.

Sailing dates are July 13, Aug. 14, 24 and 28, Sept. 7, 21 and 25, Oct. 5, 9 and 19, 2017, as well as May 3, 2018. Be sure to find a sailing that fits into your schedule before they are gone. What a great opportunity!

Cuba

QOTD: Would you be interested in sailing to Cuba? 

Disclosure: I was invited to this special day by Carnival, however all opinions are my own. 

Tampa Tuesdays: New Menu Items at Hard Rock’s Council Oak

We were provided with a free meal to sample Council Oak’s new menu items as well as gift bags. However, all opinions are my own. 

On Bobby’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, we were invited to taste test some of the new menu items at Hard Rock Tampa’s Council Oak restaurant.

I had never had food from Council Oak, but heard so many good things that I couldn’t wait to try it out!

They had a huge buffet of items to sample set out for us, as well as five new cocktails that were being added to their menu. I don’t have photos of every menu item, but wanted to share some of our favorites from the night with you. Bobby loves seafood, so he was all over the calamari and lobster.

 

He also said the jumbo soft shell crab was excellent.

My favorite? By far, the ribeye. It was so tender and super juicy. I may or may not have had around six pieces of it! Normally I like my meat a little more cooked than this, but it tasted just right and had wonderful flavor. Highly recommended!

I think Bobby’s favorite dish of the night was the yellowtail snapper. He went back for more several times, and said it was one of the best he has ever had.

For appetizers, I really enjoyed the cobb salad, which is saying a lot considering I don’t eat a lot of salad. It had the perfect amount of crunch and great flavor without being too overwhelming.

The highlight of the night were the cocktails. We tried four out of the five. They are listed on the menu board in the second picture below, in order from left to right. The rose mojito on the left was very cool because it had a big “ball” ice cube in it with a small rose frozen in the middle. So unique! It had a light refreshing flavor I really enjoyed. My favorite drink was the pillow talk (third from the left). If you like sweeter drinks, this one is for you. Bobby liked the margarita best. It isn’t like your typical margarita, as it had a little bit of a spicy flavor to it instead of sweet. The raspberry drink was also good, but not as good to me as the pillow talk.

council oak new items

We finished off the night with a delicious baked Alaska dessert which was phenomenal. You can check out all the offerings and more photos on the Hard Rock blog.

Overall we had a great night listening to music, eating, and hanging out with friends, and it just happened to be on Bobby’s birthday, so huge plus there. The Hard Rock did an excellent job coming up with this menu for Council Oak, and I think anyone who tries it out will be very pleased. Be sure to make your dinner reservations soon so you don’t miss out on these menu items!

council oak

QOTD: What is your favorite summer alcoholic drink? Have you been to Council Oak? 

5 Things Friday XXVI

Hola! Happy Friday my friends. It’s literally been raining here for a week, so I think I may need an ark before long to get outside of my neighborhood! I hope you are having better weather than us, and I hope you had a good week! The past couple of weeks here have been super busy with events and such, so I thought I would do a 5 Things Friday event recap of all the fun I have been having.

1.) Biggest Cheeseburger at sea with Carnival: Recently I had the opportunity to board the Carnival Liberty for a fun press event where we witnessed the largest cheeseburger at sea, and even got to flip our own burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint. It was a blast!

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This burger had fifty pounds of toppings and 50 pounds of flour to make the bun. So crazy! 2017-05-25_10-54-12_513

2.) Food and Wine Conference Fun: At the end of May I spoke on a panel at the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando. I love having so many conferences “close to home!” Anyway, it was great getting to meet some more local bloggers and make new friends, as well as learn new things. I also love speaking so that was fun, too! I did lots of stories and social media posts so hopefully you followed along.

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3.) Tampa Margarita Festival: I was invited to the Tampa Margarita Festival, and Bobby and I (who both love margaritas) used it as a fun date night. It was hot outside but everyone seemed to be having a great time. We didn’t stick around for the concert (Barenaked Ladies) because we had to go pick up Emma Kate, but we really love having fun local things to do on the weekends!

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4.) Tijuana Flats new summer menu: I had never even heard of this place until we moved here, but it is becoming one of my favorites. They have a great menu, and Bobby and I were invited to try out some of their new summer offerings last week, and everything was delicious! My favorites were the Bangin chicken tostadas and the the lime steak street tacos. Be sure to stop by your local restaurant and check out the new items!

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5.) BlogHer is quickly approaching: I have always wanted to go to BlogHer, and thanks to it being close by and to their generosity, I was able to make it happen this year. I am rooming with two friends from Tampa, and it just so happens to be at one of my favorite resorts, Hilton Bonnet Creek! The conference is June 22-24, so be sure to follow along then because of course I will be updating you all as I go!

QOTD: How is the weather where you are? Have you tried any new restaurants lately?

Blog to Business at Food and Wine Conference

Good morning! I have some fun news to share today. I will be speaking on a panel at the amazing Food and Wine conference next month in Orlando, Florida!

food and wine

I am super excited, as it has been awhile since I have attended and spoken at a blog conference. I love that I live in a place now where I don’t have to travel far to attend fun things like this!

My session will be on Sunday, and you can check out my speaker bio here. The panel I am speaking on will be discussing turning your blog into a business, and how to handle/balance it all with everything else going on in life. I will be speaking with three other great influencers, and I can’t wait to share my journey!

If you are looking to attend the conference, you can still sign up.

Why would you want to sign up? Well, first of all, because it is being hosted at the gorgeous Rosen Shingle Creek resort in sunny Orlando, Florida.

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I mean how gorgeous is this place?

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There are going to be some GREAT sessions with awesome speakers, I am already planning out who and what I want to see. Also of course, don’t forget about the amazing FOOD that will be there! I can’t wait to share my experience with you through social media, but I do hope some of you will sign up and join me at the conference!

QOTD: Have you ever attended a conference like this?