Winn Dixie Hyde Park- A foodie’s dream! (And a Giftcard GIVEAWAY!)

Disclosure: As part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I have partnered with Winn-Dixie to help promote the Re-Grand Opening of the Hyde Park location in exchange for a gift card. All opinions are my own.

I’m a self-proclaimed grocery store fangirl.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as moseying around a market, coffee cup in hand, taking in the sights, sounds and scents of a good store. 

It makes my heart go pitter-patter. 

And I know I’m not the only one! Grocery stores are the perfect places to inspire your inner foodie by exploring new ingredients, pick-up hot and ready meals on busy days (grocery stores have your back!), and even find love!

Did you know that markets are one of the most popular places for running into that person of your dreams? Yup. Google it! 😉

When I found out that the Winn Dixie store in Hyde Park, a beautiful neighborhood here in #Tampa, had undergone a make-over and was celebrating a grand re-opening, well, Pitter. Patter. <3 winn-dxie-11

Southeastern Grocers, parent company to BI-LO, Harvey’s and Winn Dixie stores has revealed a top-of-the-line Winn Dixie store in the Hyde Park area of South Tampa. This is the second location in the state of Florida to receive enhancements of this magnitude. screenshot2016-10-20at1-31-03pm

Winn Dixie has been in the Tampa Bay area for more than 67 years and in this South Tampa location for almost 9 years. This recent update includes SO many unique and speciality features that I cannot WAIT to tell you about. You will immediately notice the change as soon as you park in the lot! The exterior has received a fresh and modern makeover. picmonkey-collage

But it doesn’t stop there….winn-dixie-4

Here are some highlights that will make this store shine above the rest!

  • A new sandwich station with scrumptious hot and cold sandwich options including a pressed Cuban, rotisserie turkey melt, caprese (my fav!), and Italian sandwiches. 
  • The refreshed deli which now features over 400 local and international artisanal cheeses including a trained cheese steward on hand to help you with recommendations and pairings. You will also be able to stock up on your favorite local salsas from Sunset Salsa!
  • Ready to go meal options including entrees like ribs, pulled pork and brisket, sides and salads for those busy evenings when you want the experts to take care of dinner!
  • An in store pizza shop with New York style hand stretched crust and a full menu of assorted pizzas including cheese and pepperoni, hickory sweet bbq, proscuitto and mushroom, Mediterranean chicken, and even a S’mores dessert pizza (say-what?). 
  • Fresh and delicious hand-rolled sushi made by a fully trained sushi chef!
  • The perfect grab and go lunch options (in addition to the sandwiches mentioned above) like a salad from the gorgeous salad bar with the freshest ingredients and new additions like compound grain salads and red quinoa salad, or local bites featured in-store from local Tampa favorites like The Hungry Greek and Eat Fresco meal solutions (hello Asian shrimp noodle bowls!). 
  • A cafe with seating areas and free wifi for customers to enjoy a meal, desserts like fresh hot mini-donuts made in store, locally made Kahwa coffee, or even a cold treat like gelato, smoothies, frappes and milkshakes!  
  • And continuing the sweet treat chatter, their new and improved bakery department includes an assortment of Tampa’s famou Mike’s Pies, as well as a variety of kosher breads, pastries and cakes including those from a brand new gourmet cake program!
  • New and improved meat section with butchers preparing the freshest USDA prime beef, dry aged beef, premium Wagyu cuts and featuring Florida Frank’s grass fed natural and organic beef and chicken! 
  • A full-service seafood department offering shoppers a variety of seafood including 4-Star BAP certified sustainable salmon, seafood stuffed tilapia, fresh live lobster and convenient “Seafood Made Easy” meals that are ready to whip on busy weeknights! winn-dixie-8
  • A new and improved produce department with produce packed on ice for maximum freshness with new varieties of produce as well as cold pressed juices and kombucha! 25% of the their produce sold during the summer months is purchased from Florida farms! Some types of in-season produce you will find are things like monterey mushrooms from Zellwood, New Lime Company avocadoes from Miami, squash and beans from J & J Farms in Loxahatchee and Natalie’s Orange Juice from Fort Pierce. They also locally source strawberries directly from Plant City during the Florida strawberry season! winn-dixie-2
  • The amazing beer department now features 115 brands of beer and 48 brands of craft beer including 16 varieties from Tampa including Cigar City, The Brew Bus, Coppertail, Two Henrys, and Florida Avenue! There is also a fine wine department with over 1,100 wines from around the world including Kosher and Israeli wines and a trained wine steward to help you with all of your wine pairing needs! There is also a renovated Beer, Wine and Spirits shop with an impressive variety of spirits from around the world and local craft spirits including St. Petersburg Distillery and Wicked Dolphin Rum as well as a cigar humidor! beer
  • An expanded Kosher selection with 24 feet of kosher grocery items as well as fresh and frozen kosher offerings through the meat, dairy, bakery, wine and frozen departments! 
  • A new concept with their health food store within a store called Naturally Better complete with trained health and wellness specialists and associates to help customers easily find healthy options among the nearly 3,000 natural and organic products available! There is even a new feature where you can churn your own nut butters! 

So, are you ready to check this place out?

Tomorrow night October 21, 2016 beginning at 4:30, this newly redesigned Winn-Dixie will be hosting a “Picnic in the Park Event”. Bring the entire family for a night of fun, food and music! You’ll be able to enjoy a live jazz band, Gloria West & The Gents, in a park-like environment in the store’s parking lot while enjoying samples new store offerings, including specialty pizza, slow smoked brisket, red quinoa salad, delicious Anco cheese, fresh hot mini-donuts and locally made Kahwa coffee with an award-winning French Vanilla ice cream for dessert!

And you’ll want to make sure to arrive early because the first 100 customers will receive delicious Winn-Dixie products! 

The cherry on top (because if they’re french vanilla ice cream and piping hot donuts, there must be a cherry), Winn-Dixie is offering one of fabulous Orangespoken friends a $25 Gift Card to Winn Dixie! 

Here’s how to enter! I will draw a winner on Sunday. Good luck!

Leave a comment on this post sharing what part of the new store refresh you’re most excited about!

Winn-Dixie store #2433 in Hyde Park is located at 2100 W. Swann Avenue Tampa, FL 33606


Career changes

After a teaching career of 13 years, 3 of which I worked as an coach supporting teachers in a high needs school, I left. 

It wasn’t an easy decision. I come from a family of educators and my inner circle of friends is filled with amazing teachers, administrators and support staff who are some of the most dedicated people I know. Kids are their business, and it shows through their passion and commitment to the field. 

When I first started thinking about leaving the classroom, it was a scary moment for me. Working for a school district has its challenges, but for the most part, the district that I worked for was relatively consistent. I would always experience the ups and downs that come with working for the public school sector, but I would always have benefits, job security, some type of retirement package and a rewarding career. 

Yet I desired and needed something more. Something that the four walls of room 603 were no longer providing.

I love kids. I love connecting with them and watching them grow through my support year after year. I always felt as though I made a difference each and every year, and helped students achieve great things- no matter what factors they were facing. Those are the golden threads that kept pulling me back to the profession year after year. 

But the desire for something more, something different, always lingered. And it came from my work as an instructional coach. 

Teaching is hard. If anyone tries to convince you otherwise, or mumbles that ridiculous quote about how ‘those who can’t, teach’, well, you may need to run away slowly back away from them. 

And because impacting, supporting, and helping students to be career and community ready IS an enormous responsibility and a multi-dimensional process, many people in the field reach burnout within their first 3 years. And those feelings don’t just disappear as time goes on. Many veteran teachers go through cycles of burnout throughout their careers. While they may not leave the field at those later stages of employment, their years are often filled with stressors, frustrations, overwhelming feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. And while some of the variables causing the distress are things that educators cannot control, often times they feel unheard and unsupported regarding the needs of their classrooms, their own professional needs and their emotional needs. 

When a teacher feels as though their voice isn’t heard, and they are feeling as though their needs aren’t being addressed or met (either by outside and/or self-driven forces), the conditions for learning in that teacher’s classroom are greatly reduced. A teacher’s personal well being is important. Their emotional needs are important. Being able to recognize, verbalize and problem solve through these needs are a BIG piece of the puzzle of improving learning for ALL students. It really becomes an equity issue- is every child sitting in the classroom receiving the best version of that teacher so that their learning is prioritized?quote2

In my work as a coach, I was able to support teachers through this shift in self-awareness and self-care. At first it was a challenge bringing teachers to the point of believing that they deserved the support of someone who was going to openly listen to them, validate their frustrations, challenge them to think differently and openly, and work together with them towards solving their barriers. To understand that teaching does not have to be this mentally exhausting existence and that burnout is not inevitable. What I’ve learned through coaching is that everyone, not just new teachers, deserves a coach or mentor supporting them through this challenging, yet rewarding, career. Someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to problem solve with. Someone to provide them with feedback that will help them grow as a professional. Someone to be a partner through this journey. 

I soon found that assisting teachers through the process of growing both professionally and emotionally was where my heart was. Being a part of a teacher’s shift in thinking and navigating them through the creative problem solving process was not only an encouraging experience for me, but an empowering one as well. Witnessing a teacher of 20 years realize just how unhappy they have been and then partner together to dig deeper as to why, and begin to unpack and flip those reasons, ultimately resulting in a significantly positive classroom environment change, were powerful moments that led me to begin thinking about coaching full time. coach

I applied for a position with a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving student learning through a focus on teachers and their practice by providing the skills, tools, support and resources necessary to impact each student they come in contact for every year of their career. This company was an integral part of my transition from teacher to coach as I was a participant in their professional development for coaches program f0r the duration of my coaching assignment. I truly believe in their values, mission and approach to supporting educators in our country- especially those working in the highest needs schools.

After some self-reflection, many, many interviews, long conversations with friends, family and co-workers, and a bit of patience, I found myself saying an eager “YES!” to an offer for a position as a regional consultant and presenter! I am now traveling to school districts everywhere from Florida and Georgia to Virginia and rural Tennessee delivering and facilitating learning to site based instructional coaches and new teacher mentors as they grow into their roles supporting teachers and their students. It has been a wonderful experience being able to interact and learn from other districts and witness the great things they are doing to ensure equity at their school sites. I’m typically away from home 2-3 days per week a few times each month, and when I’m not traveling, I am working from home preparing for the next learning, providing feedback to my colleagues and continuing to grow my skills as a presenter and coach. It’s exciting work, satisfying, rewarding work and I’m looking forward to the new adventures that are to come!

Not only do I love the role, but I also love that I have such a supportive, loving husband-to-be waiting for me at home (or alongside on some trips!) that encouraged me to take a chance and go for this position. Without him, I likely would have never risked the change and I’m thankful to have someone in my life who not only supports me, but challenges me to be my best and give it my all.50323b512f2c5802205d4b10e66f92c3

So what lessons have I learned from this experience?

Although cliche… change is still always good! There are always those people who will hit you with “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” downshift. But my response is always an upshifting“it’s a good thing I’m equipped with my own personal watering can!” Always remember that YOU shape your life, your goals, your environment, your outcome. If they grass isn’t greener, cultivate and care for it so that it IS all that you expected and more. 30310-nido-r-qubein-quote-change-brings-opportunity

Find your soulmates. When you’re looking to change something that will improve your life or your situation, surround yourself with those who get it and will support and lift you through the process. Your soulmates are the ones who will cheer you on, not tell you a million reasons why you shouldn’t or why it won’t work. Soulmates will bring out the best in you and help you see yourself in the best light. They will encourage you to take risks and not settle for the status quo. It’s ok to remove yourself from people who are negative, emotionally draining or discouraging- especially when you are going through processes of change. Watching someone else go after a goal can be frustrating for someone who has spent their life convincing themselves that they cannot change their situation. You owe it to yourself to remove yourself from those people. Allow yourself to cleanse without guilt. people

Trust yourself, and your abilities. Once I got the position, it took me a while to embrace this mantra. I kept having to remind myself that I was able to do this job and be successful at it. It took some time for me to accept the idea that they hired me for a reason. We all have skill sets that make us great at things. Recognize those skills and own your strengths. You earned them. Allow them to shine so that you can get comfortable being the best version of yourself. 58b753f87c30d75d01c52b2999df5cba

What is something you have been wanting to change? What support do you need? I’d love to hear!signature


Review: Yo! Sushi

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post as part of a blogger collaboration with YO! Sushi. I have been compensated in the form of product for this post and my honest thoughts on YO! Sushi. All opinions are my own. 

Last Thursday Carlos, from Carlos Eats, invited a handful of bloggers to attend an event with YO! Sushi at the International Plaza and Bay Street called Ramen Mania. Liz, from No Ordinary Liz and I jumped at the opportunity to try a new-to-us place, and boy are we glad we did!  During the event we were invited to try new menu additions including ramen bowls, limited-edition poke bowls, and new sushi rolls and other menu bites. In addition to the tasting opportunities, we were also able to meet the staff and chefs who are behind the tasty and creative offerings at YO! Sushi. 

We. Loved. This. Place. 

Not only was the food delicious, but the atmosphere was a blast. What a great place to bring a group of friends! Here are our reasons why…

It’s in a great location. Grab a bit to eat as you’re walking around the mall or Baystreet. Sure there are lots of places to choose from at International Mall, but this place stands out far about the rest and worth the walk away from the food court and down to the first floor to scope it out. It’s hands down the only place at the mall where you’ll be able to enjoy dinner AND a show! (Keep reading to find out how!). 14316984_10154591221107474_6965556619863808268_n

The food comes out on a conveyor belt. No matter where you choose to sit at YO! Sushi, you will have a conveyor belt of goodness passing by you. If you’re an adventurous foodie (like me), you can feel free to grab anything that rolls (heh) by that piques your interest. OR, you can play it safe and use the menu to help guide your choices. OR you can order directly off of the menu and bypass the conveyor belt altogether. YO! Sushi has you covered with options that fill whatever your taste buds desire. They also make it easy for you to know what you’re eating (and how much you’re meal will cost) with a color coded menu and price guide. 14317503_10154591220442474_748877440687834941_n


The food is delicious; fo real. We tried sooooooo many amazing dishes off of the YO! Sushi menu including garlic ramen, shrimp tempura ramen, chicken katsu curry (amazing), spicy seafood udon noodle bowls (my favorite), chicken, tuna and tofu poke bowls (only $4.50 for a nice sized, filling bowl!), sushi rolls, steamed buns, octopus fritters (another favorite- trust me, you MUST), desserts like mochi ice cream and Japanese cakes, Japanese sodas, matcha tea (unlimited free refills!) and so much more. Everytime I chose a favorite, something else would come out to take its place. The food is SO fresh and everything is made right there in front of you by passionate, skilled chefs. If you sit at the bar, you’re able to get a front row seat to all of the culinary action. 14264872_10154591220362474_8877011544153019316_n




The staff truly cares about their customers. Not only are the chefs passionate about what they do, but the staff, from the wait staff to the managers, are constantly performing quality checks, interacting with customers to ensure their satisfaction and making sure that each and every person is talking about the next time they are coming back as they walk out. The staff at YO! Sushi also make coming back EASY. Not only will you be back for the food, atmosphere and customer service, but there are fun specials that will lure you back for more without hesitation! On Mondays YO! Sushi hosts an event called Blue Mondays. On Blue Mondays at participating YO! Sushi locations, you can find up to 40 dishes on special for $3.50!  You can check out current Blue Mondays special here. It’s a fun and easy way to take friends and family to try YO! Sushi for a steal! They also featured a new Happy Hour. Happy Hour runs Tuesday-Friday from 3:30pm-6:30pm. You can enjoy $1 off all plates, $2 sake shots, $3 domestic beers, and $4 house wines during happy hour! 14344359_10154591220892474_8421320003589808128_n

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at YO! Sushi and cannot wait to return! If you’re looking for a fun night out, or a quick lunch on the go that is sure to satisfy, check out YO! Sushi at International Mall and let me know what you think! I’ll be there on a Monday real soon. Maybe I’ll see you there! 

Read more blogger reviews here:

Carlos Eats



My first Mammogram at 37

Disclaimer: This post covers sensitive medical and wellness related topics involving breast cancer and preventative procedures. If you feel uncomfortable discussing or reading about these topics, please skip this post. I won’t be offended because I know you’ll be back! Additionally, I am NOT a medical professional. I am simply a patient giving my opinion on how to be proactive with women’s health issues. Please consult your own physician before attempting any medical procedure or self-diagnosing. 

Posts like this never get easier. It’s just the nature of the subject. But it’s important for me to continue to write about my experiences in dealing with my own health after losing my mother to stage 4 triple negative carcinoma (the worst case scenario as far as breast cancers go) four years ago. And because some of you may be facing these same high-risk circumstances, my hope is that I can bring you comfort, knowledge and the confidence to take control of your situation with proactive, preventative measures in order to live a calm, happy and healthy life.  Continue reading


Starting from where you are

So often I hear people speaking of regrets. 
How if only they had done x, y or z, life might be a little different, a little better, etc. 
How they’ve waited too long to make a decision, and now it might be too late. 
How they’re too old, or too out of shape, or too <enter excuse here> to reach a goal, try something new or fix a problem they’re experiencing. 

And when they do consider moving past those regrets, they’re often stricken with a bad case of the “what if’s.”
What if I can’t do it? What if it won’t work? What if I give up? What if it turns out badly?  Continue reading


Summer adventures

Hello from Philly!13524396_10154354176277474_4827096404118096982_n

We’ve had an amazing time up here visiting with family in Delaware and enjoying a few days in Philly while the Dave Matthews Band is in town! To top things off, yesterday was our 5th anniversary and today is my 37th birthday! What better way to spend both of those special days than on an epic vacation! Continue reading


Delicious baking & snacking with Simple Mills! #Giveaway

#Brought to you through a partnership with Simple Mills and Orangespoken. I was provided compensation in the form of product for this post and giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

A few months ago I was wander the aisles of my local Fresh Market when something caught my eye in the baking mixes section. B0176XXD8E_LEFT_jpg_1024x1024

Almond flour cake mix? Made with just 6 simple Paleo-friendly, gluten-free ingredients including coconut sugar? 

It was too good to be true.  Continue reading