Monday, April 21, 2014

Let's Celebrate! with Disney On Ice

Disney On Ice presents Let's Celebrate! is one colossal party on ice with all of your Disney friends coming to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, May 15-18.

Loving Life's family four pack ticket winner is Jeanna Johnson.  Congratulations!  My family hopes your family enjoys the show as much as I know we will.  Some of the favorites we are looking forward to seeing are Lilo & Stitch; Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear; and the Disney Villains skating to a medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the globe.

Even if you didn't win tickets, don't miss out on these fabulous skating celebrations when Disney On Ice presents Let's Celebrate! comes to Tampa.

Halloween Haunt
Valentine's Day Royal Ball


A Very Merry Unbirthday

Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate skates into The Tampa Bay Times Forum May 15-18.

Performance Dates and Times:
Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 7 pm
Friday, May 16, 2014 - 7 pm
Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 11 am, 3 pm, 7 pm
Sunday, May 18, 2014 - 1 pm, 5 pm

Ticket Prices
Rinkside Dining $75
Premium $45, $40, $32, $28, $25, $18, $15, and Kids Tickets start at $12.

Save $5 on select performances using promo code MOM5. This offer is not valid on Rinkside Dining or Premium seats. No double discounts. Not valid day of show. Not valid for Sat. 11am, Sat 3pm or Sun. 1pm performances.

Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800.745.3000, or at the Tampa Bay Times Forum ticket office (phone for information only: 813.301.6500).  For group ticket sales and information, call 866.248.8740.

To discover more about Disney On Ice, go to www.disneyonice.com on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Many holidays and celebrations will be featured in Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate!  What is your favorite holiday?

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Disney Cruise Tips


 
Here are some tips when taking a Disney cruise...
  1. Disney Cruise Lines has Florida resident rates for November - April with the best deals in January and February.  Call for Florida resident rates or search online using special offer code FLR. Our family of four save $800 with the FL resident discount.
  2. Bring wide-mouthed water bottles (like a Nalgene) to take advantage of the ship's free beverages.  Outside the main restaurants, free beverages are only available from the beverage stations on one specific deck.  The 8oz cups provided won't hold much.  If you have your own bottle, you can fill it up and carry it with you on the ship.
     

  3. Pack bottled water and Gatorade in your suitcases to have in the room. I packed an 18 pack of bottled water and Mike packed an 8 pack of Gatorade in our rolling suitcases. You have a mini fridge in the room to keep them cold. With kids, it's nice to have drinks on hand in the room. They sell bottled water on the ship but it's expensive...like $40 for a case of bottled water!
  4. Alcohol! You can bring your own alcohol on a Disney Cruise but they ask that it's in a carry-on bag. Here's what they say "Beverages must be packed in your carry-on bag—which must not exceed 22 inches wide, 14 inches high and 9 inches deep in dimension".   Even though their website says no coolers, we found that a soft-side cooler that you carry, within the dimensions, is fine. All three families we went with, carried a soft-side cooler on the ship. I saw one family with 2 cases of water and a case of beer strapped to a foldable dolly. A case of beer on the ship was $110. 
  5. Bring boxed wine so you don't need a corkscrew.  Mike and I brought Black Box wine. Personal alcohol is supposed to stay in the room but if you're discrete, you can take it other places on the ship.
  6. Small bills.  Room service is free but tips are paid in cash when the food is delivered.
  7. Make sure to pack typical beach gear for the pool and Castaway Cay...beach bag, sunscreen, etc. They provide beach towels on the ship and on Castaway Cay.  The gift shops are not open when the ship is in port.
  8. A lanyard to hold your room key. The room key also acts as a credit card for purchase made on the ship.  I didn't carry a purse on board and didn't always have pockets so the lanyard came in very handy. 
  9. If you have kids, don't plan to spend much time in Nassau unless you book an excursion.  We did get off the ship in Nassau so the boys could see a different country and get a non-Disney souvenir. We probably only spent 2 hours off the ship in Nassau.
  10. Plan for Castaway Cay to just be a beach day unless you book an excursion.  They rent snorkel equipment, rafts and floats and provide chairs on the beach on a first come basis. They have a special snorkel area with an underwater ship, submarine and mickey.  My water-proof camera was perfect for snorkeling!
We went on a 4 night Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida in Feb 2014.

Do you have any other helpful tips while on a Disney Cruise?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Canoeing for Sharks Teeth in Florida

Over Spring Break, my family and I canoed the Peace River in search of sharks teeth.  The Peace River runs through the southwest portion of Florida and is well know for it's fossilized sharks teeth and prehistoric mammal bones.  Spring is the best time for fossil hunting because the water level is still low and usually below normal.  The water level needs to be low so you can get out of the canoe in shallow water to sift and search for sharks teeth.

We drove the 2 hours down to the Canoe Outpost in Arcadia, to start our adventure.  There, we met up with the Taylor family, rented canoes, and borrowed sifters and shovel heads to help with our sharks teeth hunt.  The Canoe Outpost bus drove us to Brownville Park where we launched the canoes.  From Brownville back to the Arcadia dock was an 8 mile, leisurely, half day paddle.


The day was a bit cool to start with, but turned out to be gorgeous and just the right temperature.  Lots of animals were out soaking up sun along the river banks.  We saw too many turtles to count, two snakes and six alligators along the way, ranging in size from little to one huge 6 foot gator.



These were the little guys.  The gators stayed away from us and we stayed away from them.  They were not on the banks of the shallow water we waded in to look for sharks teeth.

The best part of this trip was getting out and playing in the shallow water.  My boys liked looking for sharks teeth but also enjoyed catching fish and playing in the water with their friends.




To find sharks teeth, we looked for shallow areas that had black rocks or sand.  Dylan and I found one large tooth.  It was broken but we were still extremely excited about our big find.

Taylor Family

Cutie pie Dylan in the middle of our canoe

Allana and Jared in their own canoe


Denise's daughter and Jared had their own canoe this time.  They did a fantastic job paddling on their own.  They zigzagged the river a little but moved at a fast pace.  Jared put his boy scout merit badge to good use on this canoe trip.  Jared only ran Allana under one low lying tree that resulted in a spider in their boat (my only fear when canoeing).

About a mile before we reached the unloading dock in Arcadia, we passed under a train trestle.  We heard a train coming in the distance so waited and got a super view of the train crossing the tracks above the river.



We found about 35 sharks teeth and had a fun family day outside with friends.  Our big shark tooth was 2 inches tall!  I'm so happy to be creating wonderful memories with my boys.



Do you have a great location for finding sharks teeth in Florida?

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Party Punch

Behold, the most incredible punch recipe for any party!  I've had this easy punch recipe for years.  I recently pulled it back out and made this punch at my sister's baby shower.  This is a very versatile recipe that can be used for any occasion.  In the past, I've also made this punch for bridal showers.  You could add alcohol for an adult party or bachelorette type party.  Everyone always loves the fresh, sweet but tart, taste of this happy punch.  It's always gone by the time the party ends.



Punch


Ingredients:
  • 12 oz can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
  • 12 oz can frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate
  • 64 oz 100% cranberry juice
  • 2 liter cranberry ginger ale
  • crushed ice

Directions:
  1. The night before the party:
    1. Place the frozen concentrate in the refrigerator to thaw
    2. Fill a gallon ziploc bag with crushed ice from your freezer’s ice maker (this way the ice maker should make more ice over night for the next day)
  2. Right before the party, mix all ingredients in a large punch bowl

Recipe by Chrissy @ Loving Life http://lovinglife27.blogspot.com/2014/04/party-punch.html

This punch is also very delicious with Malibu Coconut Rum.


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Beer Fling Review


Spring has come to Florida!  We are enjoying beautiful weather and nice, not too hot, temperatures.  Mike and I spent a gorgeous Sunday at the Spring Beer Fling held at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa.  It was supposed to happen on Saturday but wisely was rescheduled to Sunday because of rain and thunderstorms.

The event started at noon but we arrived at 3:30 pm.  There was no line and we entered right away after showing our IDs verifying we were indeed over 21.  We headed to the VIP tent to check out what beverages were available.  Our VIP wristbands entitled us to unlimited drinks, including beer, wine, cocktails and bottled water.


The VIP tent had two IPAs and four types of Deep Eddy vodka.  I didn't even know Deep Eddy came in anything other than tea flavor.  I tried Deep Eddy Ruby Red with club soda and Deep Eddy Cranberry with club soda and lime.  Both were good but sweet and I could only drink about half of each glass.  We were also informed that our VIP wristbands could be used at the other beverage tents outside of the VIP area.  I went in search of cider!  I found two of my favorites!


I enjoyed ice cold, crisp, hard cider in my Spring Beer Fling souvenir glass.  Angry Orchard was sweeter and higher in calories than Strongbow but both were excellent hard ciders.  I was thrilled that they included hard cider at the beer fling since I don't like beer.  The lines for beer were short and moved quickly.  Mike sampled Samuel Adams' Rebel IPA, Sierra Nevada's Torpedo and Ruthless Rye, New Belgium's Snapshot and Sunshine Wheat.


Mike and I met up with our friends Denise and Allan. It was so much fun hanging out with friends, sipping beer and chatting.  There were even some muscle flexing and calf pictures taken but those didn't make the blog.



No one tried the surfboard this time.  I rode bull at Bourbon Fest but didn't want to wear the helmet required for the surfboard.  Other patrons seemed to have an exciting time on the surfboard with cheers from the crowd.



The Spring Beer Fling had four different food options.  We ate at the PaniniRiffic food truck. I had a delicious mojo chicken Panini and seasoned french fries.  Then on the way out, we shared lime chicken nachos that were so tasty!


The Spring Beer Fling went on until 10:00 pm that night but we left at about 7:00 pm to get home.  When we left, the party was still going and beach balls still flying.  I really enjoyed the Curtis Hixon venue for this event.  Curtis Hixon was clean and had really bathrooms in addition to the porta potties brought in for the crowds.  We had a great time!



Disclaimer: As a Tampa Bay Blogger, I was given two VIP tickets in exchange for promotion and review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whole Foods Market Giveaway



Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Carrollwood Whole Foods Market in Tampa for an Italian wine tasting.  We sampled 20 different Italian wines and an assortment of gourmet cheeses, dry meats, and chocolate.

This was my kind of event!  I loved the samples and grazing on a variety of delicious foods and beverages.  Whole Foods Carrollwood has lots of fun events like this on their calendar.



The La Tur brie with hot peach chutney was amazing!  This mixed milk cheese was very creamy and paired perfectly with the sweet peach chutney.

 
I wasn't thrilled with any of the wines on this table but I loved the cheese and chocolate.  The Sottocenere cheese was aromatic and creamy with a hint of what taste like garlic.  The chocolate had bits of parmigiano reggiano in it for a very unique, salty sweet taste.
 


Mike was our pourer and entertainer at this table.  My favorite from this table was Mionetto il Spritz, a semi-sparkling wine with flavors of orange and herbs.  I tried the Mionetto il Spritz with an orange slice and a second sample mixed with red wine, making a sangria type drink.  Both were very flavorful and delicious.


A table of chesses = heaven!  My favorite from this table was Laura Chenel Chevre Truffle Log goat cheese.  It was smooth with a rich, delicious, full flavor and a bit of tart.


We had live entertainment to amuse us as we sipped and tasted.  He played some great songs.


I can't leave Whole Foods Market without a dark chocolate bar. Dark chocolate with sea salt is the perfect salty sweet combo.

Whole Foods Market sells high quality natural and organic products; promotes and advances environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture; serves and supports local and global communities; and is committed to seafood sustainability and animal welfare standards.

Giveaway time!  One lucky reader will win a $20 gift card to Whole Foods Market Carrollwood. The gift card is only valid at the Carrollwood location so you must be local to the Tampa Bay area in order to win.  Enter through Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*This was incorrectly, originally listed as a $25 gc when it is actually a $20 gc. Sorry for any confusion. It's correct now.

Disclaimer: I was given a bottle of wine and cheese in exchange for review.  All opinions are my own.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sarasota Half Marathon Recap 2014


We had gorgeous running weather for the Sarasota Half Marathon on Sunday, March 16.  The starting temperature was cool, in the mid 60s, and about 75 at the finish.

The morning of the race, Denise and I hit some major traffic trying to find a parking space in downtown Sarasota.  We finally parked in a small business lot, with approval from the police officer on duty, and made our way to the start of the race with only 15 minutes to spare.

Before the race started, I wanted to use the bathroom so we stood in line for the porta potties.  As we got closer to the front of the line, people leaving the porta potties let us know there was no more toilet paper.  Wonderful, fantastic, super, terrific.....I needed toilet paper.  By this time, the race had already started so I decided to find a bathroom on the course. UGH

Denise and I entered the race corral behind the 3:00 hour pace group.  I knew this wasn't going to be a fast race for me but I had to pass the 3:00 hour pace group!  We ran over a big bridge and little bridge that took us to St. Armand's Circle, then back over the little and big bridges.




At about mile 4.3, I spotted the first porta potties.  Of course there was a line that would eat into my race time. BOO!  But on the bright side, there was toilet paper. SCORE!  It was a necessary stop if I expected to get through the next 9 miles.


We passed the relay hand-off at mile 6 and I wondered why I wasn't doing the relay.  They got the same awesome finishing medals as the half finishers.  I remembered last year's race and that I disliked the second half of this course because of the slanted roads.  Oh well, I was in for the long haul again.

Right before mile 8, I caught and passed the 2:30 pace group.  I expected and was fine, to finish anytime between 2:15 and 2:30.


The second half of the race did take us through lovely shaded neighborhoods where the oak trees swayed in the gentle breeze.  I got a whiff of orange blossoms, one of my favorite smells. I stopped to take a selfie with a fellow runner.  The roads were slanted but I took time to enjoy my surroundings.

Near mile 11 or 12, I caught up with Haley.  We ran the remainder of the race together and pushed each other to finish strong, including a sprint to the finish line which I didn't think I had in me.  I really need to take my own advice and run during the week again!






Age place: 166/311
Female place: 944/2057
Overall place: 1791/3235
Chip time: 2:23:16

It was no PR but at least I beat last year's time and earned some sweet race bling!



Disclaimer: As part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers network, I received a complimentary entry to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and Relay in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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