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Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

TasteofSTampa 957x1024 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty ExperienceDisclosure: My family and I were given VIP passes to the Taste of South Tampa as part of a Yelp Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay Bloggers partnership in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared in this review are my own.

Tucked away in heart of Downtown Tampa, lies an eclectic mix of boutiques and shops and ever since my high school days, I have always enjoyed exploring Hyde Park Village. Every year for one day only, Hyde Park turns into la boca of the bayby showcasing over 40 mouth-watering restaurants and vendors.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

In its ninth year, the Tampa Chamber of Commerce hosted its signature annual event, Taste of South Tampa.  For this tasty event, Hyde Park Village “transformed into an outdoor festival offering live entertainment, beer, soda and wine along with an array of unlimited delicious food samples from various local restaurants”  where guests experienced it all for a small price ($35).  Children ten and under were free offering moderately priced entertainment for an average family with small children.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

This year, a portion of each ticket benefited Metropolitan Ministries.  Visitors were also encouraged to bring canned good items for a chance to win prizes from participating restaurants.

Prior to our arrival, we planned our tasting route so we wouldn’t miss some of the new to us restaurants. As for the presentation of samplings, my foodie family was blown away by the assortment of food and variety of vendors.

Alessi Bakeries
Anaar Bar & Grill
Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
Austrian Peppers
Berninis
Big Crush Slush Company
Blue Water Grill (@ Holiday Inn)
Brew Bus Brewing
Brown Distributing
Buddy Brew Coffee
Cabot Creamery
Carne ChopHouse
CDB’s Southside
China Mist Tea
Coopers Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Crispers South Tampa
Dubliner Irish Pub
Fish Hawk Spirits (Twisted Sun Rum)
Fruitwood Standup Market
GrillSmith Restaurants
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
Hooters
In The Box Catering (Metropolitan Ministries)
Irish 31 Pub & Eatery
Jimmy John’s
Kahwa Coffee
Keel & Curley Winery
Kona Grill
MacDinton’s Irish Pub
Press Box Sports Emporium
PRP Wine International
Rollin’ Oats Market Cafe
Shell’s Seafood
Ship Yard Brewing Company
Sonny’s BBQ
Tequilla’s
Terra Sur Restaurant & Bar
Timpano
The Florida Distillery (Cane Vodka)
The Floridian
The Sweet Tooth Cakery
Two Henry’s Brewing Company

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

Given all the ethnic varieties and distinguished flavors, my favorite dish was the chicken and waffle sandwich from In The Box Catering.  As strange as that may sound, I loved the crisp-to-perfection chicken sandwiched between a crispy sweet waffle smothered in maple syrup.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

A close second in my Taste of South Tampa culinary adventure was the eggplant curry from Anaar Bar and Grill. I loved earthy and Middle Eastern flavors. However, my husband and my kids preferred the Mulligan Stew from Irish 31 Pub & Eatery.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

My husband and I also relished the varieties of cocktails and beer samples.  We especially appreciated the chance to sip Two Henry’s and Brown’s for the first time.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

Of course, I still preferred SeaDog ale.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

Several of the vendors also offered games for the kids. My Little Lion Man and his sister, Emmalynn, loved the putt putt.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

Cornhole was a hit with kids of all ages.

 Taste of South Tampa: A Tasty Experience

As much as I enjoyed the mass quantities of scrumptious food, I delighted in the opportunity to connect with local vendors as a blogger and a small business owner. Paired with good food at a fun-for-the-whole-family event, I found this networking moment nourishing and savored it every morsel.

Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

Disclaimer: I was provided with a race entry in exchange for my honest review of my Iron Girl Clearwater experience.  The opinions shared are my own.

Prior to Iron Girl, I came down with a nasty chest congestion related to my allergy-induced asthma.  With difficulty breathing, tightness in my chest and a wet non-productive cough, a forced rest was my only option. Sadly, the congestion forced me to take two weeks off from running.

By Sunday, I still couldn’t breathe and I still continued to cough. During that drive down to Clearwater, I doubted myself and questioned my actions.  “Why am I here? Why am I doing this?” The questions played over and over in my head as I puffed my inhaler. I had trained so hard for this moment; I couldn’t throw in the towel.

In an attempt to motivate myself, I bought myself a new outfit the day before the race. The pink would at least help me look like an Iron Girl when I passed out on the course.

Finding it difficult to move that morning, I arrived in Clearwater about 15 minutes before the start of the race.  Then, like a ironic repeat of Sarasota, I needed a bathroom immediately, but the lines were so long. I spotted one woman forming her own line in front of the porta potty and I waited behind her for the next available one. I may cough the whole way, but at least I would start on time which was a relief in so many ways.

IMAG1205 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

IMAG1201 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

At the start corral, I found my friend, Leah. It lifted my spirits to see a familiar face in the crowd.

IMAG1204 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

After the national anthem, we were underway and I spotted Mike with a funny sign, of course.

IMAG1206 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

We ran through downtown Clearwater and circled around to the Memorial Causeway.  With only a mile into it, I was already experiencing a cough fit.  I simply kept my pace slow and steady. I tried not to push myself.

IMAG1210 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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By mile two as we headed into Clearwater Beach, I followed the advice of a random road sign and decided to take advantage of all the water stations along the course. With my hacking smoker’s cough, I walked each of the water stations as I rehydrated.

IMAG1227 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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We ran through the roundabout past Pier 60. It was a gorgeous morning to be on the beach. Just past mile three, we faced the second bridge leading into Sand Key with mile 4 at the top and I coughed the entire climb.

IMAG1236 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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Once we reached Sand Key Park, I stopped for another water walking break. The volunteers shouted, “You’re looking great!” But I knew this was not my greatest performance.  At least I was ahead of the 2:30 pace group. The next mile and half led us through Sand Key Park, another training route for me.

IMAG1249 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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After mile 6, we were back on Gulf Blvd when the 2:30 pace group passed me. For a brief moment, I hung my head in disappointment, but I quickly shook it off. This was not my best moment, but I was finishing something that others wouldn’t have even dared to do given the same conditions.

IMAG1256 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

IMAG1259 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

A little past mile seven, we turned to return back to Coachman Park. With only less than half way to go, I coughed and continued on my way at an even slower pace. At mile 8, we were offered Girl Scout cookies and I couldn’t stomach them. I just wanted to finish.

IMAG1261 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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The St. Pete Road Runners and Team Psych greeted us at Mile 9 with high fives, big smiles, lots of cheers and cold wet towels. Now that was a treat that hit the spot!

IMAG1266 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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Feeling refreshing and rejuvenated, I was ready for the Sand Key Bridge that lay ahead.

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On the other side, we were led through the backstreets of Clearwater along Bayway Boulevard and Hamden Drive.  Upon our arrival, anxious and lovely little girls offered us water, but I politely declined. As a wise mom of three children, I chose to pass on the finger water and waited for the next water station.

IMAG1281 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

At the end of Hamden Drive, we turned the corner with only two miles left to go, which included the final causeway. Even with only short distance left, my body needed longer walking breaks.

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Just after mile 12, we reached the Clearwater Memorial Causeway and I tried my best to run up the steep incline.  I trained on these bridges and yet, I couldn’t find the steam to make it to the top. I felt like I was going backward.

IMAG1292 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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Finally I reached the top and I posed for a Causeway Kodak moment with the Sandy Key Bridge behind me and a palm tree as my hat.

IMAG1300 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

A few steps later, I bumped into the Best Damn Race crew.  “We were wondering what happened to you!” Haley said as she hugged me.

IMAG1304 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

One last loop stood in front of me and the finish line but not before one more photo with a spectator and a sign. Some may call me crazy and mental, but if anything, I am certainly tenacious. Just call me Tenacious D.

IMAG1303 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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At the bottom of the circular ramp, there was only a quarter mile left to go. Normally, I save a sprint for the finish line, but not this race. With staying steady at a 12:00 mm for the duration of the race, I couldn’t put forth anything faster than a 9:30, my normal race pace. I tried but I just couldn’t push it harder than that.

IMAG1312 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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13.1 miles

Time 2:35:29
Ave Pace 11:53
Div Pace 133/202
Overall 778/1230

That tiny, little push at the end put me over the edge and I couldn’t catch my breath. I needed help.  Once the medal was placed around my neck, I walked over the medical tent for assistance.  For the first time in my running career, I needed a breathing treatment.  The paramedic advised me to carry my emergency inhaler with me next time, which was some great advice.

IMAG1317 Iron Girl Half Marathon 2014 {Recap}

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Despite needing help at the end, I am glad I didn’t defer. I trained so hard for this race and its tough course. Although I didn’t earn the time I hoped for and even did worse than last year, I’m glad I didn’t give up. There’s always next year.

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Because I am an Iron Girl.

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A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

spring%2520Beer%2520Fling A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer FlingDisclaimer: I was given two VIP passes to the Beer Spring Fling as part of the Tampa Bay BloggersBig City Events partnership in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared in this review are my own.

When Iron Chef Allan and I heard that Samuel Adams Season Beers would be the featured beverage served at the Spring Beer Fling, we were there before the event organizers even tapped the kegs.

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

All right so maybe that is a slight exaggeration, although we were definitely excited to attend the Spring Beer Fling.  Honestly, the lineup of craft beers and cocktails were very impressive.

  • Samuel Adams Cold Snap
  • Samuel Adams Rebel IPA
  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo
  • Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
  • Fat Tire
  • Sunshine Wheat
  • Snapshot
  • Angry Orchard Cider
  • Twisted Tea
  • Deep Eddy Vodka cocktails

Once we arrived at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in the heart of downtown Tampa, I spotted the Subaru vehicles parked on the lawn. Being in the market for some new wheels, I was excited to sneak a peek at the new Forester without a high-pressure car salesman leering over me like a predator.  Sadly, the cars were locked so I could only window shop.

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

After drooling over the cars for a short spell, we redirected our focus back to the beer and made our way to the VIP tent.  Much like the Margarita Festival, the VIP tent had its own private bar and attentive servers, however, this time, it offered a limited selection of Deep Eddy cocktails and beer, such as IPA and Cider, which is what Allan and I chose to drink first.

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

Despite the limited selection of drinks, I enjoyed hanging out in the tent. We had a great view of the bands and a fun place to rest our drinks and chillax.

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

Whenever we were tired of sitting or wanted to drink something different, we ventured out among the masses and explored the festivities happening throughout the Spring Beer Fling.  In the cooler months, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is the perfect venue for events like this.  A gorgeous breeze off the Hillsborough River helped build a beach-like atmosphere.

IMG 5301 SMILE A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

With the addition of surfer rock music amplified throughout the park, the bands created the perfect soundtrack for this fun beach-themed festival as guests tried to ride a wave on a mechanical surf board.

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

To add to the uniqueness of this festival, a handful of food trucks served eclectic sandwiches and appetizers. Allan and I shared a Mojo Chicken Panini and a Dadio (marinated skirt steak and grilled onions) with seasoned fries from Paniniriffic. Both were sandwiches were delicious!

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

Later we were joined by our friends, Chrissy and Mike, and we all split a pile of nachos smothered in cheese and  pulled pork from Street Surfer, which was also delicious.

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

Big City Events pulled off another fantastic event and added one more fun-themed festival under their ever expanding party tent.  Sadly, Allan and I couldn’t stay as long as we would have liked to, but the time we spent at the Spring Beer Fling was truly a beachy keen time.

 A Beachy Keen Time at the Spring Beer Fling

Want to join me at Big City Events next festival, the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival on Saturday, May 24? Purchase tickets here.

Caillou Talking Doll Giveaway

Just in time for the Easter holiday, I have a fun giveaway to share with my readers. This Caillou Talking Doll is the perfect present for your favorite preschooler and perhaps the Easter Bunny can tuck this a special little gift in a good little girl’s or boy’s basket.

IMAG4608 Caillou Talking Doll Giveaway

My Little Lion Man loved this Caillou doll. What’s not to love?! He’s a cuddly version of the character that has been charming children for over 15 years on PBS. This Caillou Talking Doll wears a removable hat and backpack which my Little Lion Man accessorized with a tiny book.

 Caillou Talking Doll Giveaway

When you squeeze this cuddly Talking Caillou Doll, he shares a few French words and also names his favorite colors and friends.

Caillou Talking Doll retails for $34.99 and can found where all Caillou apparel, books, home video and other merchandise are sold online and in specialty retail stores nationwide.

CaillouTalkingDoll 800x1024 Caillou Talking Doll Giveaway

For this flash giveaway, one lucky Run DMT will win a Talking Caillou Doll. To enter, leave a comment telling me who you will share this doll with.  For an extra TEN ENTRIES, leave a comment on my review post.  For additional entries, follow the Rafflecopter prompts on the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How My Little Lion Man Loved The Caillou Talking Doll {review}

Disclosure: I received a Caillou Talking Doll for the purpose of this review. All opinions are shared are my own.

Each of my three children have had different obsessions when it came to their favorite television characters. When my oldest daughter (now age 12) was a toddler, she loved Elmo and Dragon Tales.  When my eight year old was a toddler, she loved Dora the Explorer.

Now, I am reliving all those beloved preschool shows again with my three year old son, who loves all things Sprout. As much as he loves Thomas the Tank Engine, he can also make room in heart for Caillou and oddly enough, my girls never connected to Caillou like my Little Lion Man does. Like a kindred preschool spirits, Liam relates to all of Calliou’s experiences and adventures.

When an opportunity to preview the Caillou Talking Doll presented itself, I knew my little preschooler would love to cuddle his very own Caillou and go on real life adventures with him.  The moment the doll arrived on our doorstep, Liam wanted to play with Calliou.

 How My Little Lion Man Loved The Caillou Talking Doll {review}

As the box directly, we squeezed Caillou to hear him speak and learn some new French words. Since we try to incorporate Spanish into our daily routine, we found it exciting to learn some new easy French words such as “bonjour” (hello) and “merci” (thank you),  however, Calliou speaks in English mostly to share his favorite colors and friends’ names.

More than interactive French lessons, Liam found a new playmate with his new Caillou Talking Doll. Later that afternoon, Calliou went of adventure with Liam to the dentist.

IMAG4608 How My Little Lion Man Loved The Caillou Talking Doll {review}

The Caillou Talking Doll came adorned with a removable hat and backpack. Liam loved that Calliou carried a backpack just like the one he uses for school. He even found a small book for Calliou that fit perfectly inside his little backpack. How My Little Lion Man Loved The Caillou Talking Doll {review}

 How My Little Lion Man Loved The Caillou Talking Doll {review}

 How My Little Lion Man Loved The Caillou Talking Doll {review}

 Calliou’s light-weight, plush body offers comfort for little preschoolers while his soft molded hands and face bring to life the loveable character that has charmed children all over the world for over 15 years on televsion.

The Caillou Talking Doll, which retails for $34.99, will make a perfect present for any preschooler this Easter holiday, especially the adventurous preschooler type like my Little Lion Man.

Watch for a giveaway soon for your chance to a Caillou Talking Doll.

Caillou apparel, books, home video and other merchandise are sold online and in specialty retail stores nationwide.  

When Life Handed Him Lemons, He Made LÉMONESSE {review}

Disclosure: I received a bottle of LÉMONESSE for the purpose of this review and to promote the LÉMONESSE Kickstarter campaign. The opinions shared are my own.

Being a blogger puts me in the unique position to stumble upon some of the most amazing people. I often find myself meeting people from all walks of life who sadly find themselves in an unfortunate situation and yet somehow, turn it into a positive experience.

Such was the story of Adam Leja. After a crippling car accident caused by a drunk driver, life literally handed Adam lemons and he made lemon water. Believing that perhaps the pressure of alcoholic consumption causes people to be careless, Adam decided to create a beverage that would “refresh with finesse” while offering a healthy, guilt-free refreshment to social gatherings.

 When Life Handed Him Lemons, He Made LÉMONESSE {review}

LÉMONESSE is the first organic lemon water. Natural spring water infused with organic lemons and a hint of lemon oil to offer a rich, refreshing and crisp drink. Presented in a gorgeous glass bottle, it’s as visually appealing and as it is flavorful.

 When Life Handed Him Lemons, He Made LÉMONESSE {review}

When I received my bottle LÉMONESSE, I immediately placed it in the fridge to chill overnight. Ice cold tap water served with a slice of lemon is a ritualistic refreshment for Floridians, but I didn’t want melted down ice cubes to hinder or water down my sample of LÉMONESSE. I wanted to taste it ice cold and savor the flavor for an honest review.

So what did think of LÉMONESSE?

I served myself a generous pour in a wine glass to offer the satisfaction of a sophisticated beverage on par with its beautiful bottle presentation. While its milky white appearance fooled my brain into thinking of it as sweet beverage, my taste buds loved the tartness. As a low calorie, healthy beverage, I found LÉMONESSE to be quite refreshing. It will be a perfect companion to our cook-outs this summer.

 When Life Handed Him Lemons, He Made LÉMONESSE {review}

If you are interested in sampling LÉMONESSE, learning more about the product or even backing this product, visit the LÉMONESSE Kickstarter campaign here. Like LÉMONESSE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay to in the LÉMONESSE loop.

Jersey Boys Just Too Good to Be True

Disclaimer: The Straz Center provided me with three tickets to Jersey Boys in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared are my own.

Since my parents grew up on similar streets as the main setting of Jersey Boys, I dragged them to the opening night performance. I knew they would relate to the storyline and love the show, but more than similarities, my parents were part of the storyline.

The story is told from the perspective of each of the Four Lovers Four Seasons: Tommy DeVito, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi. Each player spins their own version of the musical journey of four guys that stood under a streetlamp dreaming about making it big.

Tommy DeVito discovers a young and green Francis Castellucio with “a voice of an angel”, who transforms into Frankie Valli because an “i” looks more appealing and more Italian than a “y”. Years of playing bowling alleys and lousy lounges brings little luck for the Four Lovers until a young Joey Pesci (yes, THE Joe Pesci) introduces the guys to Bob Gaudio, best known for his one hit wonder “Short Shorts”.

Diana short shorts 748x1024 Jersey Boys Just Too Good to Be TrueThat’s where my family’s bizarre connection (a Jersey Boys six degrees of separation, if you will) comes into play. My mom knew Diana from The Royal Teens. For one fleeting moment, the musical became more about Woodside Women than Jersey Boys.

Obviously, this musical wasn’t about one hit wonders, although Bob Gaudio worried that he would wear that label for the rest of his life rather than actually land a record label. Once Sherry enters the scene, Gaudio realizes his talent for writing hits and the rest is musical history.  His songwriting magic combined with Frankie Valli’s distinct sound puts the Four Seasons on the pop charts repeatedly.

As with any story about a star’s rise to fame, there are always egos, struggles, conflicts and lots of girls. But through it all, there was always the music. As the story unfolds, the audience finds themselves enthralled with the characters and singing along with the cast.

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For this production, the cast plays multiple roles as well as multiple instruments. With the absence of an orchestra, the cast sings and dances while strumming a few bars on the guitar. Even a full horn section finds its way on stage for Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (a song that almost never saw the light of day).

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To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the musical biography of Jersey Boys, but you can’t wrong with a musical rich with Jersey mob-like finesse and f-bombs.  Much like the accents and explicit language, the songs seamlessly weaved into the story line without appearing too forced into place and like the Gaudio-Valli partnership, it just worked.

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Experience the just too good to be true Jersey Boys and Tampa’s own Hayden Milanes as Frankie Valli now at the Straz Center April 8 – 13, 2014. Tickets range from $48-$116 and are available online at www.strazcenter.org.

Electrodash 5K {Recap}

Disclosure: Our friends, my daughter and I received Electrodash 5K entries in exchange for my honest review of our experience. The opinions shared are my own.

Electrodash Girl Electrodash 5K {Recap}One of my goals this year was to participate in as many fun runs with my kids as possible. The Electrodash 5K did more than define a fun run, it out-shined many other fun runs that we’ve experienced.

With fun runs, it’s often hard for me to let go of a particular finish time and just run for fun. With the absence of a clock, Electrodash 5K made that easy for me from the start.  I also decided to wear a rainbow neon light-up tutu to really get into the spirit of this particular fun run. The tutu paired well with my Lorna Jane tank and my new running Rynner shoes from The Walking Company.

Electrodash outfit Electrodash 5K {Recap}

As Team Run DMT Neon Runnerds pulled up to the Florida State Fairgrounds, we noticed that many of the inflatables were deflated along the course which seemed odd.  As we approached the packet pick-up, we heard rumors that the fairgrounds had lost power about an hour before we arrived, but thankfully everything was back online now.

IMAG4626 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

Of course, the power outage caused a delayed start, however, it offered more time for all the Electrodash participants to enjoy the neon dance party.  Honestly, no one seemed to mind the delay, expect for OCD runners like me who are used to a prompt gun start time.  Once again, it was another fun run reminder that official start times do not matter for 5Ks where the main objective is good time, not a finish time.  The overall experience is what matters most.

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Once we connected all our glowing gear, we moved to the arches which represented the start line.  Electronic dancers entertained the crowd to the beat of electronic dance music which boomed through the fairgrounds.  The glowing dancers also commenced the start of the race.

IMAG4629 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

IMAG4633 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

Allana, her friend, Sofia, Mica and her daughter, Lily, ran ahead as Emmalynn and I just shuffled along. Emmalynn and I would run a bit and take walking breaks as needed. With all the fun neon, glowing props along the course, it seemed like we were encouraged to take lots breaks and take twice as many photographs.

IMAG4636 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

Although we ran this same course last year at the Color Me Rad, the course had a very different feel in the dark. With several small potholes in the pavement, I had to be careful where my foot landed.  Thank goodness for supportive footwear!

Normally during races, I watch for friends on the course but it was hard to find familiar faces in the dark. It didn’t matter that we didn’t seen anyone including Big Sister because Emmalynn and I were enjoying ourselves immensely.

About a half mile into the race, I needed to use the restroom and Emmalynn loved teasing me about needing to take a potty break.  “Why didn’t you go before the race?”

IMAG4646 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

IMAG4643 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

At the halfway point, we found another DJ spinning fun electronic tunes. Lots of people stopped for a dancing interlude to enjoy this glowing Kodak moment.

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IMAG4668 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

Honestly, there were so many fun Kodak moments along the course from the glowing globes and jellyfish, neon dancing arches and the neon tree garden.

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Even after the halfway DJ, we ran through multiple dance parties along the course.

IMAG4687 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

IMAG4693 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

Simultaneous dance parties were definitely the focus of the race.  With all the fun on along the course, Emmalynn and I nearly missed the finish line.  As we ran back through the arches at the start, I mistook the main stage for the finish line.  In the dark, we didn’t even realize we ran past Mica, Lily, Allana and Sofia.

IMAG4698 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

After the race, we stayed for a little bit so the older girls could dance and Instagram more photos.  By 10:30, I was shattered after a long day at SeaWorld.

IMAG4702 Electrodash 5K {Recap}

My girls and I definitely found the Electrodash 5K to be a glowing good time.  We’re excited to shine our way at the next fun run!

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Amos Lee Keeps It Loose, Keeps It Tight and Real at Ruth Eckerd Hall

With Amos Lee passing through, Allan found himself at ease in the arms of a woman as we snuggled at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Saturday night.

IMG 20140405 195724 Amos Lee Keeps It Loose, Keeps It Tight and Real at Ruth Eckerd Hall


Seeing Amos Lee in concert was definitely a bucket list item for me. Watching this extremely talented musician live on stage simply blew me away. With his soul voice and solid acoustic songwriter style, he kept it loose and he kept it tight.

Amos Lee opened with Windows Rolled Down, a perfect start given his commentary on Florida’s winter. “What’s the deal with you all? You all just thought you would just f*ck the winter or what?”

As for the charitable side of Amos Lee, he shared a story about “Dora”, a hospice patient that began dancing as he sang for her outside her room.  Fans also learned that one dollar from each ticket would be donated to Musicians On Call, a non-profit charity that brings live music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities.

Much like Dora, the audience couldn’t help but dance and clap along. Song after song audience members were moved to their feet.  What began as an intimate songwriter session quickly transformed into a nightclub atmosphere as he fed off the energy of the audience.

More than a man with a guitar, Amos Lee fans saw the sexy, musical fun side to an often serious songwriter.  With mash-up covers of Fat-Bottomed Girls /All the Single Ladies and Won’t Let Me Go/Thinkin’ About You, he spotlighted the talent of his accompanying musicians as well as his complex, diverse musical style and taste.


From the volume of the audience sing-along choir, everyone enjoyed his renditions of these popular R&B covers as well as Amos Lee favorites. For the perfect finale, he ended another classic cover, Boyz II Men’s End of The Road. 

IMAG4797 Amos Lee Keeps It Loose, Keeps It Tight and Real at Ruth Eckerd Hall

For more great clips of the actual Amos Lee concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall, check out GJWinston’s YouTube channel.

rundmt musicmonday1 Amos Lee Keeps It Loose, Keeps It Tight and Real at Ruth Eckerd Hall

 

SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

Disclosure: My family and I were invited to participate in SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration debut. We received swag and one-day admission as compensation in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions shared are my own.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

On March 21, 1964, San Diego SeaWorld began entertaining, delighting and educating audiences.  SeaWorld Orlando launched nine years later.  For fifty years, “SeaWorld has surprised and amazed guests with unique entertainment, thrilling rides and up-close encounters with animals.”

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

A video presentation led us through a timeline of how SeaWorld evolved over the years from one park into three incredible parks with conservation and education at its focus. As my family and I snacked on killer whale colored-cupcakes for breakfast, SeaWorld’s CEO thanked all the guests for celebrating the momentous occasion with the park.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

After SeaWorld shared its story, I walked down memory with my children as I shared stories of visiting the park as a child decades ago. “I remember when there were no roller coasters here. I remember visiting here with my students when Journey to Atlantis had just opened.”

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

Now along with all its amazing animal exhibits and shows, the park also offers numerous thrilling and interactive rides.  For this visit, my family and I focused mainly on rides.  Allana and I started with Manta, our favorite roller coaster.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

Emmalynn wanted to ride Journey to Atlantis since she had never been on it. She loved it, of course, and she especially loved getting soaked.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

Next, Allana and I dared to ride Kraken. Last time we rode Kraken in the dark; it was a whole new roller coaster in daylight.  At least the high-speed dried us off our wet clothes.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

With Antarctica only a short distance away, we utilized our media pass as a fast pass to avoid the hour wait to experience the Wild Antarctica ride. Liam is still too small for the wild side, so he and Daddy chose the mild ride while the girls and I dodged a sea lion on the wild side.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

Wild or mild, both experiences lead all passengers to a penguin exhibit at the “South Pole” for a chance to meet penguins up close.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

Leaving Antarctica, we passed the SEA Garden where we discovered giant sea sculptures made entirely of beach trash and plastics in an attempt to teach guests the importance of conversation and protecting marine animals from such dangerous materials.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

As we continued to Shamu’s Happy Harbor, we stumbled upon the Bubble Blowout, an eccentric tinkerer who invites guests to help create bubbles of all sizes and shapes.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

Also as part of the 50th Celebration “Sea of Surprises”, the SeaWorld Surprise Squad will shower unsuspecting guests with prizes such as exclusive access to rides, reserved show seating and behind-the-scene experiences. Since my kids were more interested in the rides, it didn’t matter that we never saw the SeaWorld Surprise Squad.  It’s also no surprise that Liam wanted to ride the train.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

When my family rode the Jazzy Jellies, I enjoyed the performers.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

After all the rides, my kids performed their own Splash Dance at the Shamu’s Happy Harbor splash pad.

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

We soaked up as much of SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration as we could in one day, but we are excited to return for more “Sea of Surprises” this summer. Stay tuned for more exciting events to come to SeaWorld Orlando during this 18-month long celebration!

 SeaWorld Orlando Makes a Splash for 50th Celebration

The best way to experience SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration is with one of the following ticket offers:

  • 50% Off Celebration Ticket — Buy one ticket and get 50 percent off another.
  • Celebrate the weekdays with SeaWorld Orlando’s $50 Weekday Ticket.

In addition to these amazing offers, Florida Residents can take advantage of SeaWorld Annual Passes starting at just $13 per month with EZpay to enjoy the 50th Celebration again and again.

For more information and continuing news about SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration and the Sea of Surprises, visit www.seaworld.com/celebration. For complete details about ticket offers, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

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