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.

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.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Disney On Ice presents Let's Celebrate! GIVEAWAY

My boys will be so excited to see Disney On Ice's newest show, Let's Celebrate! at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa.  Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! brings more than 50 Disney characters to Tampa, May 15-18, for one colossal party on ice!  This all-new show features an action-packed, magical montage of celebrations and is set to a blend of contemporary music and favorite Disney songs.

Feld Entertainment invites you to join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as they celebrate a Very Merry Unbirthday Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter; Mardi Gras with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen; a Royal Valentine’s Day Ball with the Disney Princesses; a Hawaiian luau with Lilo & Stitch; a winter wonderland with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear; a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains and more in the celebration of the century.  Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! will be a memorable and uplifting experience for the whole family!
I'm thrilled to see all of these beloved Disney characters in one big party on the ice!

Everyone wants a party invite!  One lucky Loving Life reader will win a family four pack to see Disney On Ice presents Let's Celebrate! at the Tampa Bay Times Forum at 7:00pm on May 15 or 16.  Enter through rafflecopter below and a winner will be chosen on April 15th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 p.m.
Friday, May 16, 2014 - 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 18, 2014  - 1 p.m., 5 p.m.

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 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, visit us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Baby Shower Party Favor Treats

I co-hosted my youngest sister's baby shower and needed cute party favors for our guests.  My middle sister and I aren't super crafty and definitely not skilled at cookie or cake pop decorating.  We came up with an adorable and easy idea for baby shower party favors.

We bought individually wrapped rice crispy treats, but you could certainly make homemade rice crispy treats, and then dipped them in blue colored white chocolate.  Tada!  Look at these cute and easy baby shower treats.

To make these party favors you'll need:
  • 16 individually wrapped rice crispy treats
  • 1 bag of chocolate melting wafers in desired color
  • Small plastic treat bags with ties
  • Cute saying printed and cut out, with a hole punched in the corner
  1. Heat chocolate wafers over low heat. I used my mini crockpot.
  2. Unwrap the rice crispy treats.
  3. Dip the treats halfway into warm chocolate, tapping to remove excess chocolate. Place the chocolate dipped treat on parchment paper to harden.
  4. Once the chocolate is dry/hard, place each treat in a bag and tie off with your cute saying. 
These could be made using any color chocolate and for any event, including birthday parties!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gasparilla 15K Recap

Gasparilla is a local Tampa race that I run every year.  The 5K was my first race ever in 2009.  I've come a long way since 2009.  Back then I thought 3.1 miles was a long way to run.  Now I've completed four 26.2 mile marathons.

This year I registered and ran the 15K, a distance I'd never raced before.  Automatic PR baby!  Gasparilla was one week after the A1A Marathon so I truly just want to enjoy the 15K.

I met up with my running group on a hot and humid Gasparilla morning.  The weather never seems to be nice for Gasparilla race weekend.


I started the race with a couple of running buddies but we all eventually went our separate ways on the course.  The Gasparilla course took us along Bayshore Blvd with beautiful houses on one side and Tampa Bay on the other.  It was a hazy morning with most of downtown Tampa cloaked in blanket of fog, but I kept on running.

This was my first 15K so I didn't have a PR to beat.  I estimated that I would finish around the 1:30 time mark.  That particular morning, I didn't feel like pushing myself to ensure 1:30 or faster, though I did consider it as I ran.  Some relief came as misting water fell from two tall sprinkler stations on the course, providing much needed cool-off areas.  And then my iPod died at about mile 6.  I was so glad I wasn't running the half marathon the next day!

I finished with an OK time.  Wait, let me rephrase that...I finished with a new PR!!!

Division: 158/442
Gender: 928/2836
Overall: 2221/5146
Halfway Split: 45:03
Chip Finish Time: 1:32:49
Average Pace: 9:57 min/mile


My parents were running the 5K that morning with my sister Angie.  My parents last ran Gasparilla back in the 1980s!  I think all my running encouraged them to complete a race too.  So after I finished the 15K, I met up with them in the 5K corral.  My mom and Angie ran together so I ran with my dad.

The 5K race was pack with runners and walkers, as usual.  We ran to the right, keeping an even pace, passing walkers as we needed to.

Everyone did fantastic!  My dad ran the entire race at a steady pace and finished in 46:03.  Mom and Angie finished in 40:22.  I'm very proud of my parents for getting out there and finishing a 5K!

My dad in the red shorts, Feb 1980
My Parents after Gasparilla 2014

What's your favorite Gasparilla Race distance?


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Beer Fling Preview

The Spring Beer Fling celebrates the arrival of one of the four best seasons with seasonal beers and a full day of games and entertainment. Live music acts include girl-group inspired Beach Day and indie rock outfit Pretty Girls. The night concludes as thousands of LED-lit beach balls descend on the crowd from above.

The Spring Beer Fling is Saturday, March 29th from 1:00pm - 11:00pm at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa.

How to Fest:
General Admission tickets are $15 until 3/28/14 and $20 at the door (if available).  General Admission gives you access to the Spring Beer Fling with all day re-entry privileges and you can enjoy the all day live bands! Once you're inside, enjoy the other entertainment, games, and activities. Specialty and seasonal beers start at only $5.

VIP Fling tickets are $85 until 3/28/14 and $100 at the door (if available).  VIP is the best way to enjoy the Spring Beer Fling with access to our VIP Retro Lounge where you will enjoy UNLIMITED POURS of  ALL of our seasonal and specialty beers, in addition to a Special Retro Cocktail, wine, water, and a meal ticket from one of our food vendors.  Your ticket also includes a custom collectible Spring Beer Fling Pint Glass! The VIP Retro Lounge features a retro inspired d├ęcor that will take you back in time as our surf rock bands take the stage all day!  VIP Tickets are extremely limited for your festival enjoyment. This experience will sell out! 

I tried the mechanical bull at Bourbon Fest so I guess I'll have to try the mechanical surf board at the Spring Beer Fling!

Click here to buy tickets online.

Visit for more information or like them on Facebook.

*GIVEAWAY*  One lucky reader will win two General Admission tickets to the Spring Beer Fling at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.  Please enter using Rafflecopter.  Contest ends March 21.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Review

After the Gasparilla 15K and 5K, my sister Angie and I changed clothes, took a baby wipe shower and headed over to the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to meet up with our husbands.

Our VIP tickets allowed us in a special area and tent with food and drink samples.  Drink samples were everywhere but food samples were only in the VIP area.  Score!  My favorite was pulled pork with BBQ sauce. Yummy! But they also had bacon, shrimp, sausage, salmon, and mini pork tacos.  They offered beer and Angry Orchard cider samples in the VIP tent, so I was set.  I'm not a big beer or bourbon fan, although I did try both at the festival, but I love hard cider.

We received a tasting glass and handy holder to wear as a necklace.  Remember this picture was post Gasparilla hair and makeup. I ran a half marathon that morning and then walked over to Beer, Bourbon & BBQ.  It was an outside event so I knew I'd just continue to sweat.

After getting some grub, Angie and I finally met up with our husbands and cousins.

We enjoyed the bands and music.  They played classic rock instead of country.  We walked up to the stage as this band was singing a cool, upbeat version of Won't You Be My Neighbor.

Along with drink samples, you could buy various types of food, including a pretzel necklace.

We met friends we hadn't seen in a while.

And people as classic as the music playing.

Something not so classic or classy....the beer belly contest.  My husband had had enough samples that he wanted to join in on the contest by sticking his stomach out as far as possible, but he had nothing on these guys.

Overall, we had an amazing and fun day at Beer, Bourbon & BBQ.  I think Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park was the perfect location for an event such as this.  It had nice grass and was not a dirt covered field so I felt comfortable wearing my flip flops or open toe shoes without getting Flintstone feet. 

We'll definitely be back for this event again.

Do you have a favorite beer or bourbon?

Disclaimer: I was given 2 VIP tickets in exchange for promotion and review.  All opinions are my own.