Tampa Tuesdays: Valspar Championship 2017

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the Valspar championship and a media event at Innisbrook here in Florida. Being new to the area, I had not yet had a chance to visit here, and was excited to go. A few bloggers were selected to attend a foodie event during the tournament, and I wanted to share my experience with you from that, as well as the Toby Keith concert we attended the next night on the driving range!

When the bloggers all arrived at the event, we were lead through the tournament towards the Grape and Grain. I had not been to a PGA tournament in many years, so it was fun to see everything as we walked through.

golf

golf2

At Grape and Grain, celebrity chef Ming Tsai was doing a cooking demonstration. After the demonstration, he chatted with us bloggers, answered questions, and we got to taste some of his food. He was super personable and easy to talk with, and took photos with all the bloggers. What a special treat to have him at the tournament!

golf4

Afterwards, we got to walk around a little bit. Valspar had some really cool decorations scattered about. I especially loved the chandelier and flower centerpieces!

hp0a4PcMe97c_4LuFAnmBAmDNB0CS8WXXNAW_Kgg5jUpX92IB

4S1WmTSILPTbYwVz3T3uK2C5EoA7RtCLqjBiQQpSRlgpX92IB

We were then treated to a special lunch outside. Did you know that you do NOT have to be a member at Innisbrook to eat at the restaurant? I HIGHLY recommend you check it out. All of the food was SO amazing. We even got to chat with the chef!

golf6

gopzqMxbCcsatzeyEfOAp-eoDnjtRX5YIsYcW5PNbMEpX92IB

We had flatbread, lamb, chicken wings, shrimp, as well as many other things to sample.

golf7

Everything tasted so fresh. I can’t wait to bring my husband back here I know he will love it!

golf8

After lunch, we relaxed for a few minutes out on the gorgeous deck overlooking the course while sipping on watermelon drinks. So light and refreshing on a warm day!

golf9

The next afternoon, my husband and I headed back to Innisbrook to see the end of the day’s play of the tournament and attend the Toby Keith concert. We really enjoyed the concert but were bummed it started much alter than anticipated. We didn’t get to stay for the whole thing because we had to go back to pick up our toddler.

7ciHLKRQU6HPxMayZqnjzao_MMs3w3M-giiA2zu5OVopX92IB

toby

IvhBDIS4ra1cdIqACHm9chMih9YYQdzAJE9gWfv1kwIpX92IB

All in all a great weekend with great weather. They really know how to do a golf tournament! Everything was very well done from the food to the course to the entertainment and volunteers. I’m sure we will be back!

QOTD: Have you ever attended a PGA golf tournament?

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to the tournament as well as a day as media in exchange for my honest thoughts. However, all opinions are my own.

Tampa Tuesdays: Busch Gardens Tampa

On Saturday, Bobby and I took Emma Kate to Busch Gardens Tampa. It was our first experience in the park aside from seeing a small portion when we went for a media event a few weeks ago. I did a little bit of research to at least know what we did and didn’t want to do, and we arrived at the park when it opened at 10:00 (which I thought was late!)

2017-04-01_12-53-37_941

Getting on the tram at the parking lot was a little hectic as there was no one there to keep people in order, and there were no true “lines”. We had a family try and push us out of the way to get on the tram (I was holding EK in my arms!) and I had to yell at a guy to let Bobby get on the tram with us b/c he had the stroller and people were pushing in front of him. However, I tried to shake it off and not let it ruin the day. The park can’t control what other people do, and it wasn’t their fault. We made it to the front, and bag check was smooth and quick.

I wanted Bobby to get to ride at least one roller coaster, so he jumped in line for Cheetah Hunt because it said there was only a ten minute wait. I took Emma Kate to go visit some animals while we waited.

2017-04-01_10-36-24_102

2017-04-01_10-46-25_582

2017-04-01_10-53-00_638

After about 30 minutes I texted Bobby and he was still in line. I was not thrilled because Emma Kate was getting bored and wanted to go ride the train. We visited the giraffes which there was SO many of, very cool, and then waited some more.

2017-04-01_11-07-27_234

All in all he was gone a total of 45 minutes for a ten minute wait, so I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe it temporarily broke down and we didn’t realize. Either way, nothing we could do to change it so we moved along and got in line for the train.

2017-04-01_11-21-39_728

It was fun seeing the animals along the route. A very nice touch. We decided to get off at the next stop and go see the monkeys and the tigers. This guy was just sitting up at the glass staring at all the kids. Emma Kate kept saying she wanted to hold him, of course.

2017-04-01_11-54-54_787

We also saw a couple of sleepy tigers. I loved all the lush landscaping in their habitats with multiple vantage points to view them from.

By this time it was after noon, and we were getting  hungry. We tried to get Emma Kate to nap in her stroller as we walked down towards the Food and Wine festival area.

2017-04-01_12-10-31_710

I love how the booths are mainly contained to two areas so you don’t have to walk all that far to get from one to another. Also, there were no long lines to wait in which was a plus.

2017-04-01_12-12-38_114

We each had an 8 pack sampler card courtesy of Busch Gardens, and were ready to enjoy the festival. (These can be purchased at the booths, and also you can find festival guides at each booth with a map and list of all the food and drink offerings.)

2017-04-01_12-15-33_808

First up, Bobby got the lamb chops and a mango margarita, which got two thumbs up.

2017-04-01_12-14-36_989

We then headed over towards the two Coke booths, which are next door to an inside air conditioned area with tables. We were happy to find this spot, as it was getting HOT outside. Bobby got a couple more things to eat and I got a pulled pork slider. After a brief rest, we headed over towards the concert area where there were a lot of other booths.

Bobby tried some ribs, and I got my favorite: the bacon mac and cheese, which was just as delicious as I remembered it. Emma Kate loved it, too and kept stealing my bacon.

2017-04-01_12-57-33_491

We both also had watermelon margaritas, which would become our favorite drink of the festival. (I may have had three.) I may have also had a regular margarita on the rocks at the margarita bar while we were in this area.

Emma Kate had been dying to “see Elmo” in the kids area, so we went there next. This area was great. TONS to do for kids all confined to one very large space. She was so overwhelmed we weren’t sure what to do first. She rode several rides, and even did a small “water ride” by herself!

2017-04-01_13-58-27_824

2017-04-01_14-02-07_309

We put her in the bounce house because she LOVES those things, but there were a lot of big kids in there and she got upset and wanted to get out. We also did the carousel, and she climbed up in a large tree house area with Bobby.

Seriously we could have stayed in this area all day and Emma Kate would have been jjuussttt fine. There was also a huge really cool looking splash pad area, but we decided to skip that one for the day because it was already getting late in the day and we were all tired. We did however have one more stop to make, the show with Elmo and the gang! EK clapped and waved, and even got to touch Grover which I think made her whole day. This area was covered and had fans which was a very nice touch on such a sunny afternoon. There were also plenty of benches and other seating around the whole kids area for moms and dads to take a rest as the kids played.

2017-04-01_14-31-39_445

We still had a couple of punches left on our food and wine cards, so Bobby got some steak and said it was his favorite dish of the day.

2017-04-01_14-52-07_203

We met up with Megan and Gabe for a few minutes and chatted at a table and people watched before calling it a day. Check out the cool topiary in the background!

2017-04-01_15-23-28_801

2017-04-01_15-31-56_845

The park is really big, and there was no way we could have done everything in a day, which just means we will have to go back!

2017-04-01_15-33-10_111

Not five minutes after leaving the park, this one fell asleep in the car. I think that’s a sign of a good day!

2017-04-01_16-32-03_605

A huge thanks to Busch Gardens for inviting us back to experience the park and the food and wine festival. Don’t forget, you can experience it for yourself every weekend through the end of this month, and there is a free concert every night of the festival with your park admission! Check out BuschGardens.com for the lineup and information.

Disclosure: I was provided free park admission for two as well as lanyards to try out the food at the festival. However, I was not asked to write a blog post about it, but we had a great time and I wanted too! Also, all opinions are my own.

**I would love it if you would take a quick second to fill out a 6 question survey about how you plan Disney vacations. Thanks in advance!**

Tampa Tuesdays: Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

It’s officially spring, and that means it’s time for the Food and Wine festival at Busch Gardens! I was invited to a media event a couple of weeks ago to check out some of the amazing food offerings, and wanted to share them with you for Tampa Tuesdays.

3UDmB_E7HPslDpca8NZBZKcnl3YeuOJEy7ZeCsjLbIwpX92IB

When we arrived at Busch Gardens, we were immediately greeted by an adorable topiary, and of course some wine!

3HE8wSALRabf82GvFPj_bQcYrPw2FGAt_tzqRimuI-0pX92IB

There was food, music, drinks, and some friendly faces.

NxPAedaeu1JCtlePcIdT6lS7qwe0wU2xqGiAbaNdX1cpX92IB

Servers passed around some of the offerings, while others were found at the food booths just as you would find them in the parks during the festival. The bacon macaroni and cheese was my favorite, hands down! This was just one of the many offerings at the 13 food cabins, 65+ fine wines and 70+ craft beers!

1CZytnCY1KplzwKDvRAmYJnMxM56KLZf3GY37dI8LkQpX92IB

However the duck fat truffle fries were a close second.

3AYIvinenD3ifIGAyI9ro-DQnw4dXh2eWHP8drRMvYQpX92IB

Each cabin had a menu board with the food and drinks available as well as prices. Some even had pictures which I found very helpful.

oqZGsyrkGXgVAGlXH5KF5ahEtCFdF_NWr1n6voFUL9gpX92IB

dvg5ySDqqpN4GSaE9zcO3DSCgPVm4iLHypVYLx5Pwr8pX92IB

The president of Busch Gardens, Stewart Clark, spoke a few words, and it was fun to see the excitement he had for the event.

OkFAW905d1X60ltcfdVdbvkaaLSTJSZYa9ILpjORZV8pX92IB

Megan and I had to try out more wine, of course.

FslNa1Z0Ndp6cLKWv7g5Wv0gpk3kh4h8KEBifxYadQkpX92IB

Bobby tried the lobster tart.

IXpDrKSfml-8XKFEObRQqNQnFOpgf01sf5mX3cPUkIspX92IB

Jo7B14MWqNQ8SiNmc3LdZg9oYPiGewe9wEus-MyCmYwpX92IB

Then I found the frozen sangria and the mango margarita. Both were amazing, and I may have had more than one! (pictured here with shrimp and grits.)

Zvtog1XDvt5Tso935sbzJ6c-NRP9ZgodlLoXVWj_YKApX92IB

One of the new pavilions is called “cooking with Coke”, and I really enjoyed the pulled pork sliders with Coca-Cola® Cherry BBQ sauce.

OH2Z3fZkTfo6YysNbxO1X-hnPB8pnnPvlyQGKV5Q8S0pX92IB

Mango margarita pictured below.

P_-LWz3X9Pi_xw4ltEOeeiU5z-YSNQxqauhryEEpeTcpX92IB

No lie, after I took the below photo, a bird swooped down and stole my Key Lime Berry Parfait Mousse with churro. How rude! Also pictured are scallops and lamb chops with tabouleh. The scallops were Bobby’s favorite of the evening.

XVgVHW1zw17-46EhEPNBW0_c4nTMEaW5y50RCnQKFXspX92IB

I may have had another plate of the bacon mac and cheese. It’s THAT good.

RFdH5sGQA62UV7RZPK4BYoIm2Twu0fUnF0Tl3m3V68cpX92IB

RFz3ZG6yBJhzYv8if8iBgCoPgCQmQ9omMgDDmBXTzxEpX92IB

Something else we got to do that you can also do if you come to Busch Gardens (for a fee) is pet and feed kangaroos. It was so cool! They ate out of these little cups and were super friendly. It made my night!

jbjZsdAVAA05-PExdRABMU5EHXZO3HhAHsUktDzegiEpX92IB

p_BsxrfKFbyzQ1XQZ5C3TU20emQ0S_v6IEEBwRjaiWwpX92IB

X4osugZWbOLyW-hFeufVHH1kPZNE_rfDvr4pw-Ym9-gpX92IB

At the end of the night, we were sufficiently stuffed, and couldn’t wait to try more food at the Food and Wine Festival when it opened the next day! We haven’t been back yet, but we plan to do so soon.

busch gardens

Don’t forget that in addition to the amazing food offerings, there is an awesome concert line up including names like the Band Perry, Newsboys, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also plenty of upgrades you can purchase to make your visit even sweeter. There are festival samplers starting at $29.99, and VIP packages starting at $24.99.

LkY5rN5I8o41wU-_w-oZkKIECyCkt88wu5iUmLpbwn4pX92IB

A huge thank you to Busch Gardens for the invite. This is such a fun festival that’s great for the whole family! You can experience the festival for yourself on weekends through April 30th. Concerts start at 7:00 pm. For more info be sure to check out the event FAQ page.

QOTD: Have you ever attended the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens? What dish looks the best to you?

*Disclosure: I was provided free entrance into this special event as media, however all opinions are my own.

The winner of my Cabot giveaway is Susan Smith! Susan, be sure to email me at heatherslookingglass@gmail.com. You can check out the rafflecoptor widget in the original post to see the winner into.

Tampa Tuesdays: Cooking With Cabot + A Giveaway

It’s time for another Tampa Tuesday post! As stated when I started these, not all posts would be specifically about Tampa, but would include things I do and experience in the surrounding areas. Today is one of those days, as I talk to you about a special Cabot Cheese event I attended in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. When I arrived at the beautiful East End Market in Orlando and headed upstairs to the APEX room, I was greeted and immediately pointed towards a delicious looking create your own parfait bar, Olde Hearth Bread Company muffins, Lineage Coffee Roasting coffee, Divine Chocolate,  Florida Milk, and all the Cabot cheese I could eat. Yes please!

2017-03-01_08-59-54_257

2017-03-01_09-05-52_966

2017-03-01_09-15-24_000

We ate breakfast, got to know each other, and just had a nice relaxing few minutes to hang out before we were introduced to some of the Cabot team.

One of my favorite things we discussed was the department of gratitude. Did you know that Cabot uses reward programs to thank those that do goof. You can log your volunteer time for different events . It’s pretty cool!

DSC_0013

We then got to meet our awesome demo chef for the day, Jimmy. I particularly liked him because he grew up in Mississippi. We all huddled into the kitchen and watched him make some delicious food! First up was cornbread. Now we are speaking my language! This southern girl was fascinated by the fact he put sweet potatoes in the cornbread! Of course we all got to taste before moving on to the next thing.

2017-03-01_10-12-29_887

2017-03-01_10-06-09_426

Anyone who knows me well knows that mac and cheese is one of my favorite things ever. This one definitely did not disappoint. You can check out the recipe here.

2017-03-01_10-38-35_292

Jimmy also showed us how to make taco shells out of cheese. I will for sure be trying this out. They were so easy to do and delicious. I may have eaten a shell by itself. Don’t judge me.

2017-03-01_10-23-47_894

2017-03-01_11-06-51_268

After all the cooking (well, Jimmy cooking!) we did a little self care with Candace. She talked to us about stretching, and taking time for ourselves. She knows we are on the computer a lot as bloggers, and we need to MOVE! So we did just that with these fun drumsticks. Candace is so passionate about healthy living, it was fun to hear a like minded fitness lover talk to us!

2017-03-01_11-28-46_889

Soon it was time for lunch, which was such a treat. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we were brought outside to enjoy the courtyard and beautifully decorated tables.

2017-03-01_11-55-16_445

I may have found a new favorite thing: Lemonade with lavender. It was so light and refreshing, I may have had two glasses.

2017-03-01_12-02-47_660

The rest of the food did not disappoint either, and hit the spot! We had grilled cheese sandwiches by La Femme du Fromage made with Cabot cheese of course, Houndstooth Sauce Company’s tomato basil soup, salad with apple slices, and the Skyebird lavender lemonade.

2017-03-01_12-00-42_691

We even were “treated” to an adorable and rich dessert from Gideon’s Bakehouse: Pistachio Toffee Dark Chocolate cookies. So amazing. Then we headed back inside for our competition.

2017-03-01_12-32-09_679

My friends know I am one of the most competitive people alive, and so of course this was no exception. We were divided into teams (my team was called “seriously sharp”,) and given a basket full of goodies and told to create a cheeseboard. The best board would win a prize, so we went straight to work. (We only had 30 minutes!) We decided on a Valentine’s Day theme and just kind of went with it. I may or may not have used my fingernails to cut out hearts from cheese. It was totally worth it, because…we won! Isn’t our board beautiful?!?

2017-03-01_13-45-47_736

The winning team with Candace.

team_goepicurista

We all said our goodbyes and were given a great goody bag (as well as one to pass on to someone else). It was overall a great day, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to learn more about Cabot, meet amazing bloggers, and just generally connect with more people in my new state. A huge thank you to Cabot, Isabel and Sunday Supper, and everyone else who helped with the event!

Cabot, being so generous, offered to host a giveaway on my blog! One lucky reader will receive this box as seen below. This is their legacy gift box, and it’s amazing! To enter, please follow the instructions below. Winner will be selected Monday March 20th and announced on the blog next Tuesday. Good luck!

Legacy_Gift_Box_detail

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Valspar Championship 2017 – TICKET GIVEAWAY

Welcome to another edition of Tampa Tuesday! I love learning about new events, places, and things to see here in my new home state, and today I have an exciting giveaway** for the locals, two tickets to any day of play! The Valspar Championship, Tampa Bay’s PGA Tournament event, started yesterday and runs through March 12 at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, and will be televised nationally! This tournament has something for the entire family, not just the golf lover, so bring everyone with you (kids 15 and under get in FREE!) What do I mean by something for everyone? Check it out: fun outdoor activities, entertainment, food, music and world-renowned professional golf (more details and giveaway below).

DUBLIN, OHIO - OCTOBER 04: Fans cheer as U.S. Team captain Fred Couples walks by during the Day Two Four-Ball Matches of The Presidents Cup at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on October 4, 2013 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

FOOD:

The Grape & Grain — an upscale wine, beer and spirits emporium is available, as well as the Valspar Food Truck Rally, several new concession areas and a celebrity chef cooking demonstration by Ming Tsai (Friday and Saturday) who is the host and executive producer of the cooking show SIMPLY MING,

MUSIC:

Valspar LIVE! — a free concert by Toby Keith, (heck YES!) superstar singer-songwriter, for ticketed attendees on Saturday (concert will begin after the tournament concludes Saturday, approximately 6:30)  I’m a huge fan of his music, especially “Made in America” and of course, “Red Solo Cup”.

unnamed

ACTIVITIES:

NEW! Valspar Chameleon Cove is a beach and relaxation zone, featuring a 50-ton, 20-foot tall Chameleon sand sculpture, colorful fan seating, concessions and a Maui Wowie Smoothie Stand. <—-yes please!

Valspar COLOR EXPERIENCE 18th green Expo featuring 2017 Colors of the Year, DIY projects, Ask Val (which is a new digital tool to assist guests in choosing colors), putting and fan photo booth.

McDonald’s Family Fun Zone: Featuring a 16-foot-tall rock climbing wall, monster putting green, free popsicles, Imagination Playground and plenty of arts and crafts and games — this area is located by the 8th green. Fun for even the little ones!

valspar

If you don’t win my giveaway, you can still purchase tickets HERE. I hope to see some of you out there! I will for sure be there Friday, and hopefully Saturday as well. Please check out the Rafflecoptor giveaway below and good luck!

**Parking passes must be pre-purchased for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Patrons may purchase Tuesday& Wednesday parking when arrive on-site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tampa Tuesdays: The Nutrition Factory

Last week, I was invited to a pre grand opening event at a new restaurant concept called The Nutrition Factory. It was built next to/kind of inside Powerhouse Gym in Tampa. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had heard about possible smoothies? Protein powders? Meals? Once we arrived and were shown around, it all became clear…clear that I loved this place!

alFRj29o9bQmJD6adKhF2gGIc8DqaPs0QaK8jlbpgSMpX92IB

As someone who has been blogging about health and fitness for seven years, I was particularly excited, and equally skeptical of this place. Let me tell you something. The heart and the thought that went into each and every single thing truly shows in the product. We walked in and loved the hip and fun vibe right away. There was a long table to sit at as well as outdoor seating.

mSc__6Zo4Ddw9Huxjt1UzDFsMjXNjXuzY7JHZGEpke4pX92IB

The menu is broken down into proteins, grains, veggies, and toppings. You can customize a bowl, salad or wrap based on this, or choose one of their pre-created concepts. They even have a bowl named “the boring bowl”. HA!

3SCdk4ebL0_t6IxS7B4Tqy5s_wULMJnhC3BRTks98nUpX92IB

Knowing I wanted to sample several things, I went with a Junior bowl. I got chicken for my protein, brown rice for my grain, and the loaded it down with toppings like edamame, avocado, cheese, and almonds. I also had a delicious dressing on the side.

38hc_0Hds_Xo0p2Ngd4_WSzSTIFXgMqf2OagfamKvxIpX92IB

You watch your food as it is prepared, and can customize as you go.

_P8yjvVEGW0lZ8RwHTpRC4DSn02y8XxY69TRJcDDUVYpX92IB

There is NO LIMIT on the toppings which was the best part!

dTbrEEXN1b76F_Ps7k8jdHR-e7tKNKl9k06lKW8MSIIpX92IB

There is also a smoothie station where you can get a protein shake, or a cold pressed juice smoothie. I had a birthday cake shake, and Bobby had a S’mores flavored one and one called the Hawaiian Pie. All were amazing! We also got to sample the cold pressed juice smoothies and they are packed with fruits, veggies, and vitamins. There are so many options!

0z3dv-_2Y4Q7vfhWWGLMDnzoXOLrGZIkjzFW0W3Se34pX92IB

This is one of Bobby’s bowls. he may or may not have had two. It was just so good!

nySXhj2TTj0O_oO_gji3_tH0IjRA5eYePI2knkiNqI8pX92IB

The Nutrition Factory also sells lots of product in their store, at great prices. The walls were lined with pre workout, protein powder, and the like. One of the owners, Michael, took a lot of time with us explaining the different products, and even helped my husband figure out what would be the best pre workout for him to start taking.

7UNU90SCTeWMd-S_nntIQsAFBALeOpVpvIrNf31gGnwpX92IB

Michael also told me of a really exciting concept they are bringing in the near future. He knows a lot of gym goers like to meal prep, but keeping food fresh all week is difficult, and some people just don’t have the time. He plans to offer a grab and go meal prep area, where you can come in and just grab your grains, or proteins, or the whole meals, WITHOUT having to join a subscription service where you have to purchase so many meals a week or month. I love it.

You could tell that Michael is truly passionate about The Nutrition Factory, and has big plans for it. Expansion may be in the future as well, but he and his partner want to focus on getting everything right with this store before expanding. I really hope they do expand, as this location is a bit far from my house, but it is definitely worth the drive. I’m already thinking up custom ideas for my next bowl.

QOTD: Thoughts on this concept attached to a gym? What is your favorite protein powder?

Tampa Tuesdays: SeaWorld with a Toddler

*As I mentioned before, my Tampa Tuesday blog posts won’t include just Tampa, but others places nearby/in Florida, so please don’t be confused and think SeaWorld is now in Tampa, it’s definitely still in Orlando.

seaworld with a toddler (2)

1.) Bring your own stroller: While SeaWorld Orlando does have stroller rentals, they are of the plastic variety. While this works just find for a little bit older kids, if you have a toddler that will nap in a stroller, plan to bring your own for more comfort. We tied a bright ribbon around the handle of our stroller so it was easy to find when exiting shows.

kNHvRGl35QuoMtapk6r8Rg-f63YmrRMMuTvJCNkzbK8eJxFPc

2.) Save the Shamu Happy Harbor playground for the afternoon: There is a huge, fun play area just for kids at the back of the park called Shamu Happy Harbour. I knew I wanted Emma Kate to experience this, but I also knew if we did it first thing, I would NEVER get her out of there! This is a large area that was never very crowded when we were there, so I suggest doing some things first that may have long lines early in the day, then head over to the kids area right before or right after nap (we went after). Keep in mind they DO have a splash pad area which is great for hot summer days, but bring extra clothes if you want your child to be able to play in the water.

nPnEr85qLy3sWusHkyj3aYwdPZ_262EnOdFycbWyFCUeJxFPc

3.) There are “sleeping baby” areas at the shows, use them!: I LOVED this idea and we ended up using it ourselves! When you walk to the top of the stadium up the path at most of the shows, you then get to a walkway that goes across the whole top row that overlooks all the seating. If you have a sleeping baby/toddler you don’t want to take out of your stroller, you can wheel them right up to the stadium and park them behind the back row and stand to watch the show while your child sleeps. Emma Kate fell asleep in her stroller at one point and we didn’t want to miss the last sea lion show of the day, so we used the sleeping baby area and it worked beautifully. It also made it easy for us to be the first ones out after the show was over and avoid the crowds of people exiting the theater.

UNkC4hf08R4ZOCUAbyCj92JHjpkPr9YL5oUa_aeS-xseJxFPc

4.) Make a plan around show times, but space them out: Each show only happens a certain number of times a day, so pick the ones you want to see, and rank them in order of most important to least important. Keeping in mind as the day goes on your toddler will get more cranky and restless, you may end of having to skip one of two shows, and you don’t want it to be your favorite one! Also, try not to go straight from one show to another without giving your toddler a chance to run around and get out the wiggles. We tried to avoid the stroller when we knew she needed to get some energy out and it worked well for us.

DSC_0059

5.) Split up if necessary: Remember that sometimes it’s ok for the whole family to not stick together. Some space can even be good on a hot day. Bobby wanted to ride one of the roller coasters, so Emma Kate and I went for a walk to find some food while Bobby went on the ride. He later went on it again when Emma Kate was napping and I took the opportunity to sit down, check my phone, and do some people watching. Be sure to pick a spot to meet up afterwards though so no one gets lost!

DSC_0101

Disclosure: I was given two free one day tickets to visit SeaWorld, however all opinions are mine.

Tampa Tuesdays: Orangetheory Fitness

Before we moved to Tampa, I went to an amazing gym. I took boot camp classes four days a week, and a HEAT class, which is very very similar to Orangetheory. Soon our town opened an Orangetheory studio, but because of my love for my current gym, I never tried it out.

Fast forward to the end of 2016, and a move to Tampa. After doing some online research and not really finding anything nearby that was similar to my gym “back home”, I decided to give Orangetheory a shot with Megan. You get to attend your first class for free, so why not? They asked me to show up thirty minutes before class was to begin in order to get me set up and explain the class flow with me.

740nksSasIj_IuXibjo37cHGy1FZ3GDcAsxB7w5DFtgpX92IB

First a little background. Orangetheory is an interval based, sixty minute workout led by a “coach” who trains you and gives you tips throughout the class. On average people burn over 500 calories per class/hour.

“The physiology behind the Orangetheory Fitness workout involves heart-rate-monitored training designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. The result is the Orange Effect – more energy, visible toning and extra calorie burn for up to 36 hours postworkout. “ –(source)

15241874_1093893104067254_5065440863252038438_n

Upon arrival, they had me fill out some paperwork, and gave me a heart rate wrist band to borrow for the free class. I was shown around the studio, and as soon as the class before ours let out, I was brought into the fitness room and shown exactly how the treadmills and rowers worked. Then we went over to the weight area and he explained to me how they would put exercises up on the TV as well as have the instructors show us how to do each one to make sure we kept proper form.

I was told you either start in the weight room or on the treadmill (“treads” as they call them there). In most classes you stay on the treadmill for 25 or so minutes then switch to rowing and weights, but some days we switch back and forth doing ten minutes on each to mix it up. He asked if I had any questions, and told me since it was my first time I could choose if I wanted to start on a treadmill or in the weight room and they would reserve a spot for me. Everything was very low pressure and laid back which I appreciated because I was already nervous!

orangetheory fitness

Everyone stays out in the hallway/waiting area until time for class. At that time, the instructor comes out and explains what we are going to be doing that day. Then they go over any promotions or orders of business that need to be addressed, and then they head back into the studio room, get their headset on, and high five everyone into the room.

I like to start on the treadmill first, so I hopped over there and started warming up. Orangetheory has big TV’s up on the wall with everyone’s heart rate, calories burned, and splat points. Splat points are what you earn when you stay in the orange and red (two highest zones). You get one point for every minute. that you stay in said zones. The zone below orange is green, which is a fat burning zone. They encourage you to stay in orange and green the most, with just a few minutes in red.

Presentation is everything! Domino Arts does it for you.

(photo credit: Orangetheory fitness, used with permission)

I also learned that on the treadmill they would use three terms I needed to learn: base pace, push pace, and all out. The instructor calls out intervals such as “push pace for 90 seconds” and then “drop to base pace for 30 seconds” so it’s important to know what these mean for you.

Base pace is your steady pace whether it be power walking or jogging that you could just keep going at for a long time. I think of it as a warm up and recovery pace. Push pace would be closer to a race pace for a longer distance race in my mind. Something difficult but not absolutely killing you. All out is well….all out. Hard as you can sprint or power walk (power walkers typically use a high incline here.) The changing up of the speeds and inclines keeps me from getting bored, as does knowing I will only be there for 25-28 minutes each class.

Presentation is everything! Domino Arts does it for you.

(photo credit: Orangetheory, used with permission)

In the weight room, everyone got a station that has a bench, bosu ball, ab roller device, TRX straps, and free weights. The instructor showed us each exercise we would be doing (they were also on the TV), as well as how many reps we would be doing them for, or how many rounds. A lot of times in between rounds we would row 300 meters, etc. to change things up. I also like that they tells us how heavy or light we should go on weights depending on what we are doing that day. Everyone goes at their own pace with their own weights, so people of all fitness levels can be doing the same workout which is awesome. My instructors have always been good to correct my form or tell me I should be using a heavier weight. They truly seem to care about us working out properly and not just saying cues they are told to say.

At the end of the class, our trainer led us through a quick stretching session, and then the TV’s showed us our calorie burn, splat points, and how many minutes we were in each zone. We were also immediately emailed a copy of that information which I love having!

L_WNYPyeCOuKjLADgRHtYzM17VMUpOxVece7pdwmi1YpX92IB

After my first class was over, the guy that showed me around beforehand came in and asked me how I did, and if I had any questions. He then went on to explain the pricing structure to me, packages, and purchasing a heart rate monitor. There were three levels of class packages at my studio:

-4 classes for month

-8 classes per month

-unlimited classes per month

You can also purchase a “pack” of classes to use within a certain amount of time, and there were drop in rates as well. Another cost that you need to factor in is the heart rate monitor. I bought the wrist strap kind and it was $99. A lot of times they run specials, and I was able to take advantage of a mid month special where I purchased my package of classes and heart rate monitor in a bundle with a free hoodie as well as some extra classes to use that first month.

A couple of things to note:

-There is no childcare at OTF, which would be an awesome addition!

-I would not recommend doing OTF 5 days a week, but that is solely my opinion. I go twice a week, and push myself REALLY hard. There is no way I could go for that many days without completely tearing my body down. I would say 2-3 days max if you are giving it your all out effort. (also going on consecutive days is super hard!)

-Be sure to bring a water bottle and towel. You will sweat a ton! My studio had a place to refill your water bottle which was helpful as well.

-My studio had lockers where you could put your keys, jacket, phone, etc. while you workout. There  also was a shower and bathrooms.

-If you want to start on the treadmill, get there early. At my studio everyone crowded around the door to get to the treadmills first (very annoying, I wish they would just hand out numbers as you walk in)

-Classes can fill up fast depending on location. There is an app you can download to sign up for classes, and if one is full you will be put on a waitlist. At my studio, if you don’t cancel at least 8 hours before your class time, you will lose the use of one of your sessions that month, unless it’s an emergency. Good motivation if you ask me!

-You can go to an OTF anywhere in the country once you sign up! This is great for those that travel a lot, or if you have a studio near your office and also one by your house. I love this idea!

I also love that there is no time commitment when you sign up, it just goes month to month. If you ever want to quit for awhile then pick it back up later, you can. I have been going to OTF for a month now and I am really enjoying it! I still miss my boot camp class like crazy, but this has been a pretty good substitute for me. I still feel like I need to do one heavy lifting strength training session a week and one run, but this class is great for intervals, endurance, and to work up a great sweat!

QOTD: Have you ever tried Orangetheory? What are your thoughts?

Tampa Tuesdays: The Rock Spa at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Last week, I had the opportunity to have a little girls day with Megan at the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa. Having just moved here, I had obviously never been before, and had no idea such a big, nice place was even in Tampa! The main attraction was massages at the Rock Spa. DiN3WsYHrqEDJ1V2qj_iFHw8N27oMi5peRqZaecl2h0pX92IB

Don’t you just love it when you walk into a spa and are instantly hit with the most wonderful smells? Well the Rock Spa definitely did not disappoint in that aspect or any other.

kRxCya3Ucnm5IA2GSHv1oNGFgx_MiZxKoML8ZzJbmm8pX92IB

We check in and were brought to the back where we were shown all of the wonderful amenities. There was a beautiful locker room with a hot tub, steam room, showers, and super comfy robes. 9F_G7KsZJbkcuS0m0OZI7U4rwN7rKOxjGRIN25Vnw9gpX92IB

We got changed and went to the relaxing waiting area to wait for our appointments. I enjoyed some lemon water while I waited, and before long I was greeted and brought to my room.

UW1bngBqH8wIwnLdV4qF7T2LnMOB6mnwMHZ5AgsIjMcpX92IB

I was getting a special treatment called Rhythm & Motion. This massage was very unique in that there was music playing above my head during the massage, and the sound also vibrated in the table. At first I wasn’t so sure about this, but the music wasn’t loud or annoying, and it all flowed together. I was also able to use an essential oil to use during the massage (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, or orange) that deepened the relaxing experience even more. This was a 50 minute massage, and I wanted to note that it focuses mainly on the upper body.

After the massage was over (all too quickly!) I met back up with Megan in the locker room. My masseuse had given me a little treat to have post massage that I enjoyed before we dipped into the hot room and steam room. (Pictured below with the water is sorbet and a shot of tea).

cMNN-PBAfMljyqA29RDmIAJ3rzp9DHrzA1SyVtTC8t0pX92IB

rock spa

We would have loved to stay all day, but we had to head to up lunch at Fresh Harvest.

YjdmLN5u6MD65YndusSxS2Pi9FYSEY7Rn6_WwVzxo2QpX92IB

I had never been here before but was super impressed! There was SO much variety and so much food. This restaurant features several live action stations where you can get made to order food like pasta and burger sliders, or grab your favorite pizza or sushi from other stations. There were so many things I wanted to try but there was no way I could fit it all!

YkKln7bY9153eVjgt6cUsABWFohG-9nmZZ8AZn32dH4pX92IB

Especially since I was saving room for dessert. Candy, cakes and pies, crepes, and my favorite, milkshakes.

J6M7NGSAFdmkhdY3oZ9msJ8A3u5rmvWWIcEoUyDQsHApX92IB

OGKHuyRn4WdoWATuQ-ETcXqSj-uUK5NBfXAGlVJ5-_IpX92IB

I kept saying over and over that I have to take Bobby here, he would absolutely love it (that boy can eat!) It was such a fun treat to be able to have a girls day at the spa and then enjoy a quiet lunch together and catch up on life. everything was in the same building, easy to get to, and wonderful. I will definitely be back!

wt3Iui00VMNW765O67L6cfyA1dEe-1j91dgGpy5s1_gpX92IB

**Seminole Hard Rock has just announced the opening of their all new Poker room! We got to take a sneak peek of it last week and it is beautiful. The room opens Thursday January 12th at 11:30. It features 46 tables, Wi-Fi throughout, and lots of very large TV’s for the sports fan. There is even a special room with two VIP tables, a bar, as well as a snack bar with seating for over 20. Also to note, Brad Garrett, (Robert Barone from one of my all time favorite shows, Everybody loves Raymond,) will be doing a ceremonial guitar smash before the venue opens to the public. How cool is that?!? If you are a poker fan, you will want to check out this beautiful new room.

QOTD: What is your favorite spa treatment?

Disclosure: I was provided with free services from Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, however all opinions are my own.

Tampa Tuesdays

Hello friends! Now that I am living in Tampa, I am slowly learning my way around (with and without Google maps) and trying to immerse myself in all things Florida and Tampa. Because Tampa is a MUCH bigger city than the one I came from in Mississippi, there is so much more to explore and to share with you all, so I decided to start a new series called “Tampa Tuesdays”. I probably won’t do this every Tuesday, but whenever I have something fun and new to share with you about Tampa, I will try to do it on a Tuesday. It’s actually a little deceiving because I will also share things from surrounding cities as well, but mostly focus on Tampa restaurants, stores, and experiences. I hope you will follow along as I explore my new area!

Today I wanted to share with you about an amazing restaurant called Pelagia. This restaurant can be found at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel.

76k3BD5IS_H1hXCHTu_fY4pS9bMKSS10tQkVSKXblxcpX92IB

Bobby and I were invited for a special tasting of their Christmas and New Year’s Prix Fixe menus , which were created by Chef Brett Gardiner.You aren’t going to want to miss this if you are local! How it works is you get to create your own menu by selecting one starter, entrée, and dessert from the prix fixe menu. We didn’t experience all of both menus (that would have been way too much food!) but we got to sample items from each.

gq9Jg7NKk6gOKPB1WI7c3MRBkkw-vGNidQbaFg3BSZQpX92IB

We started with an appetizer plate which had smaller portions of four appetizers you can find on the special holiday menus.

-pK7fJE6XuNj3_enDqGCzf-wdThvNqFdr25vcGrjpIEpX92IB

What I loved about the menu is that it paired ingredients together that I would never have thought to put in the same recipe, but they came out amazing! Bobby’s favorite was the duck confit with sunchokes, frisee, pomegranate, and port vinaigrette. (top of the photo). My favorite (which totally surprised me!) was the grilled pear, watercress, maple bacon, and walnut dressing. (Far right in the photo). The pear wasn’t mushy, and the bacon paired with it had the most amazing flavor. I must try tor recreate!

Next we were given four samples of the main course to try as you can see from the above menu. Bobby and I both agreed that the rack of lamb with the blackberry sage demi was our favorite. So tender and juicy.

X4KO4iUDjJUqcmJwv8bbuGzMSvr1zZq1zPWt4N79tRwpX92IB

Lastly, we were treated with samples of four of the sweet desserts on the prixe fixe menus. Anyone who knows me knows I have a sweet tooth, so I was most excited about this part, and it did not disappoint.

cxby_2Xbf8j229B5OWY07hi1KQt7Jc5v2zzMnp9Yqe8pX92IB

My two favorites were the apple crumble dessert at the top left, and the eggnog panna cotta at the bottom right. It’s always fun to have festive holiday desserts, and these hit it out of the park. (The other two were wonderful too with great rich flavoring, but if I had to pick…) As a chocolate lover, I was surprised my two favorites were non chocolate, but that just goes to show how amazing they were.

The restaurant was beautiful and easy to get to from the front of the hotel, and the staff was warm and friendly. Even the private dining room had a unique flair, and a fun and funky chandelier.

jUJXwEIJHJL9v_eLit5vgFUGbs1-zP0n4i9uIQgptoQpX92IB

Reservations are available for seatings from noon to 8 p.m. on Christmas day, and throughout the day for New Year’s eve. The cost for Christmas day is $45 for adults and $18 for children 13 and under. For the New Year’s meal, the cost is $70 for adults and includes a glass of Prosecco (which I can attest, is delicious as well!). Prices exclude tax and gratuity. Please call 913-313-3235 for reservations, or you can make them online here.

*Bobby and I were provided a free meal from Pelagia, however all our thoughts and opinions are our own as we explore our new city!