Monday, June 23, 2014

Music Monday [Count On Me]

I'm back for Music Monday!

The song I chose this week has been on my mind the past month.  Each year, the 5th grade graduating class at my boys' elementary school selects their class song.  Having subbed 5th grade a couple of times at the end of May before school let out, I talked with them about this year's class song and songs from past years.

Honestly, I didn't like the song the kids picked this year because it had rap sections which made it hard for the kids to sing along to.

I fondly remembered the class song when Jared graduated from 5th grade two years ago.  All of Jared's classmates sang their song, Count On Me, on the bus to their 5th grade fieldtrip.  Knowing it was their class song, with all of them singing together just for the joy of singing, brought tears to my eyes.

Now Bruno Mars's song is in a Hyundai commercial so I've heard it more often lately.

I think this was the perfect song for graduating 5th graders that were moving on to different middle school.

Count On Me by Bruno Mars

Friday, June 13, 2014

Homemade Shake & Make Ice Cream

Here's a fun summer activity for the kids...Homemade Ice Cream!  This recipe doesn't require an ice cream machine, just some good old fashioned shaking.  Growing up, our family had an ice cream machine with a hand crank.  I remember loving that soft, homemade ice cream.  This shake and make ice cream isn't quite the same but certainly easier, cheaper and fun for the kids.

This is a great summer treat.  My boys enjoyed making their own ice cream.


Ingredients in the quart bags

Let the shaking begin!

We all decided to make chocolate ice cream by adding chocolate syrup to the milk before we started the shaking.

Shake & Make Ice Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
  • 6 Tbsp rock salt
  • 1 quart sized ziploc bag
  • 1 gallon sized ziploc bag

  1. Pour the milk, sugar, vanilla, and cream into the quart ziploc bag and seal tight.  
  2. Fill the gallon ziploc bag half full of ice.  Add the rock salt
  3. Place the sealed quart bag into the gallon bag of ice/salt and seal.
  4. Shake the gallon bag for 5-7 minutes
  5. Open the quart bag and enjoy your ice cream
*Add chocolate or strawberry syrup before you shake to make flavored ice cream

Recipe by Chrissy @ Loving Life

Little ones might want to wear winter gloves while shaking the bag because hands get cold!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CANE Vodka and Sunshine Moonshine

So many people these days are trying to buy local, shopping at farmers markets or local businesses to support and invest in our local communities.  Here's another way for us Floridians to buy local and support a Florida business...drink Florida CANE Vodka!  Even those who don't live in Florida should give this American vodka a try if it's available in your area.

The Florida Distillery proudly makes a 100% Florida made vodka, from the South Florida sugar cane to the Florida aquifer water.  Their flavored vodkas use locally grown fruits like strawberries, oranges, grapes and blueberries with unique local names.

I had the opportunity to visit The Florida Distillery in Tampa and sample the flavorsome CANE Vodka.  I'm not really a vodka girl, rum is my liquor of choice, but I'll give anything a try!

Lee started us out with a delicious Florida CANE version of the Moscow Mule using Okeechobee Cherry vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer.  I loved these fancy little shot glasses.

Then he moved on to straight vodka tastings.  I admitted to the tasting room that I hadn't had straight vodka since I was in college.  Maybe that's why I'm not a vodka girl.  Anyway...most of the CANE vodkas were very smooth, going down without much burn and all were rich with flavors.  We learned about the vodka making process and qualities that go into an award winning vodka taste and gem-like appearance. 

Each CANE Vodka had a unique Florida name and label like Plant City Strawberry, Orlando Orange, Gator Grape, Weeki Wachee Watermelon, Beach Bum Berry, Okeechobee Cherry, Buccaneer Blueberry, Key West Lemon & Lime, and Miami Mango.  Orlando Orange was my favorite flavor to drink straight.  The one flavor I was very hesitant to try was Fire Ant, a jalapeno flavored vodka.  I don't do spicy but I was there for the entire tasting experience so I tried a sip.  That one sip set my tongue and throat on fire!  I'm talking a four alarm fire, in my mouth!  Fortunately, I had oyster crackers to clear my palate and quiet the flames.  I thought of my husband and brother-in-law loving the CANE Fire Ant vodka in a Bloody Mary.

After tasting most of the vodkas, we moved on The Florida Distillery's new Sunshine Moonshine.

My only experience with moonshine was in New York one Christmas.  All of my husband's family was together and someone brought moonshine that smelled and tasted like pure rubbing alcohol...not good.

The Florida Distillery's moonshine was quite the opposite of my New York experience, providing a smooth and delicious taste!  I could drink all four of these flavors on the rocks.  High Noon was my favorite with a warm cinnamon flavor.  Each Sunshine Moonshine bottle had a funny, witty, and a little smart-assy, blurb on the back.

The Florida Distillery does free tastings in their tasting room.  Check out their calendar for dates and times.

CANE Vodka can now be found in the Publix Liquor stores!  If your Publix store doesn't have it in stock, they can order it for you because CANE is in their system.

Visit CANE Vodka on Facebook or Twitter.  #DrinkLocal

Disclosure: I received a bottle of vodka and attended this tasting as part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are my own.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival Review

Mike and I had the pleasure of attending the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival at Tampa Bay's Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Saturday, May 24th. We had a great time drinking margaritas, listening to live music, and hanging out with friends!

We had VIP tickets which allowed us in the VIP tent, a welcome reprieve from the Florida sun.  Inside the tent, they provided lounge chairs and tables, misting fans and exclusive top shelf Grand Marnier Margaritas.

Photo by Densie

I must admit, I'm not a huge tequila fan.  I think tequila has a saltwater after taste but I can drink it in a good mixed drink.  We only had a couple of tequila drink options inside the VIP tent...the only location our tickets got us free drinks.  There were lots of margarita booths outside of the VIP tent with drinks ranging from $4 - $8.

After trying all the margaritas except the jalapeno one (too spicy for me), I settled on the Grand Peach Cobbler Margarita as my favorite.  It tasted the least like a margarita because of the added cinnamon to give the cobbler flavor.  I would have liked to try a frozen margarita but our VIP wrist bands didn't allow us free drinks outside of the VIP tent.

It was a beautiful day and venue to be outside enjoying margaritas!

Grammy winning artist Los Lonely Boys headlined the 2014 Tampa Bay Margarita Festival. They just released a new album titled "Revelation" and made Tampa their Florida tour stop. Of course they played their 2004 Billboard #1 hit "Heaven".  In addition to Los Lonely Boys, the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival featured live bands throughout the day.

Photo by Denise
There were plenty of food trucks at the festival hosted by the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally.  Throughout the day, we got two orders of the incredibly, delicious nachos from Street Surfer Food Truck.  Yummy!!

The Tampa Bay Margarita Festival ended the night with a bang, displaying a colorful fireworks show.

For more information, visit

Disclosure: I was provided with a pair VIP tickets as part of a Big City Events and Tampa Bay Bloggers partnership in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are my own.