04/28/16

Allergy comfort with Scotties! (And a GIVEAWAY)

Disclosure: I was provided with product and a gift card in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 

I can’t remember the first time I realized I had seasonal allergies. 

I know it was wayyyyyy back in once upon a time time, possibly around 7th or 8th grade, when my doctor first prescribed allergy tests after one-too-many sneezy fall and spring seasons. 

A few pricks of the arm and suddenly I was the lovely owner of oak, long haired cat and ragweed allergies. Let the runny nose and sneeze fests begin! 

Luckily, with a combination of allergy medications and some tried-and-true products, I have been able to survive allergy season year after year with minimal discomfort. 

But when the symptoms do rear their ugly heads, my go-to product for quick and soothing relief are “soft as a kitten” Scotties tissue products! unnamed

Scotties has everyday comfort that you need, but also the strength and softness for when symptoms are at their worst. Scotties 2-ply tissues keeps it simple without compromising softness or quality, for comfort seekers, 3-ply tissue offers an added layer of softness, and 3-ply with aloe tissues combines kitten softness and with natural, moisturizing aloe to deliver ultimate comfort for your sore nose. This product is perfect for sensitive skin, allergy sufferers, and cold and flu season.

I especially love the 3-ply aloe tissues as they are the perfect solution for those overworked sniffers. And as a teacher, I use these pretty much all year long, not just for allergy season, because we all know how exposed we are to the germs of our kiddos! logo

Whatever your need, Scotties is there for you! And the best news? You can now find and purchase Scotties products on AmazonAmazon

Right now Scotties is also hosting an AWESOME giveaway…. 

And so am I! Comment on this post and be entered to win the Scotties carepack pictured below and a $25.00 Amazon Giftcard! I will choose a winner on Sunday, 9pm (EST). *Open to US residents only. 6a5bde8b-a54c-478d-9313-a1a1a3d2722c sig

04/24/16

Quinoa Jambalaya

Yesterday we had a great day at my school. 

13094322_10154197390482474_5934210272996244711_n

13062082_10154197390767474_3822606987463753823_n

We are working on creating an urban farm and garden on our campus as a way to meet the needs of our students, community and staff and help us grow and learn beyond the four walls of our classrooms. We started with a small garden started by a few of our science teachers, but through the help of amazing donors, hard-working community volunteers, excited students, and dedicated faculty members, we were able to expand that into multiple gardens throughout the school! We are excited to keep adding to this project throughout the next few weeks as we prepare for the 2016-2017 school year!

As we were planning this farm and garden work day, I spent a lot of time spreading the word about our project in an effort to invite the Seminole Heights community to get involved. I emailed, Facebook and spoke to anyone who would listen and ended up with a TON of partnerships including Bo’s Ice Cream, who generously donated to our GoFundMe page and provided beverages which kept our workers properly hydrated. Whole Foods Market in Tampa also generously provided us with funds which helped to purchase breakfast items to fuel our volunteers. Fodder & Shine (one of my favorite stops in our neighborhood) provided our volunteers with two rich and hearty and delicious trays of jambalaya which helped to feed all of the hungry workers after a day of gardening! It was such a successful day and I cannot wait to see what this project brings as it grows! 🙂

It should come as no surprise that I cannot stop thinking about that jambalaya. 

If you haven’t been to Fodder & Shine, I’d suggest you hit them up asap. The menu is simple and delicious, featuring traditional old Florida “Cracker” style recipes.

From their hickory smoked mullet spread and cornmeal fried chicken to their hand-pounded country fried steak and bacon fat cornbread. They also have amazing cocktails and to-die-for desserts! 

Since their jambalaya was a special dish they made for our event, and isn’t featured on their menu (but it should be!), I wouldn’t be able to run over and grab some more to satisfy this craving that has been lingering on my taste buds since yesterday. So I did what every good food blogger would do…. I made my own! USE THIS ONE 2

And it’s sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious.

With fluffy quinoa, and spicy shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage, this dish is easy to whip up on a weeknight evening, and totally cravable! 2ec1c0dd-d20a-40c6-b458-357a90b16fe9

You definitely want to add this to your weeknight rotation!

Quinoa Jambalaya
Serves 4
Write a review
Print
Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1/2 onion, chopped
  3. 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  4. 1 full carrot, chopped
  5. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  6. 1 cup shredded chicken (I used rotisserie from Publix)
  7. 6 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  8. 2 chicken andouille sausages, thinly sliced (I used Trader Joe's brand)
  9. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  10. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  11. 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  12. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  13. 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  14. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  15. 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  16. 1 cup rinsed white quinoa
  17. 2 cups chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Prepare quinoa according to the package, substituting chicken stock for water for extra flavor.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, saute the onion, bell pepper, carrot and celery in a large skillet in olive olive until soft. Add in spices and sea salt and stir to coat the vegetables. Pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan (without cleaning), add a bit more olive oil (if needed) and saute the shrimp and sausage until the shrimp is almost cooked through and the sausage is seared.
  4. Add the sauteed vegetables and shredded chicken into the pan and top with the can of tomato sauce. Simmer on medium low for 6 minutes.
  5. When done, combine the quinoa and the meat and veggies in a large serving bowl. Enjoy!
Orangespoken http://orangespoken.com/
sig

04/15/16

Spring Events at the USF College of the Arts

By guest writer Jennifer Bennett

Last weekend, through a partnership with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was invited to attend the USF College of the Arts spring Student Dance Concert. The concert was held from April 4th through April 10th and was presented by the College of Theatre and Dance’s Student Production Board.logo

Each year the College of Theatre and Dance produce and perform amazing shows for the USF and Tampa Bay audiences. In the fall of 2015 the school performed U.S. Drag, directed by visiting faculty member Daniel Granke as well as Pantomime by Derek Walcott, directed by guest artist Henry Muttoo (Cayman National Cultural Foundation Artistic Director), the off-Broadway hit 9 Parts of Desire and a fall Student Dance Concert. For the spring of 2016, they have performed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Spring Dance Concert and will be featuring Violet, a musical directed by our newest faculty member Douglas Hall starting on April 14. 

Walking into Theatre 2 at the University of South Florida I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that I was there to watch the Student Dance Concert but beyond that I was not sure what this performance would be like.FullSizeRender

The black box theatre was cozy and comfortable. I chose a seat in the middle top row giving me a nice visual of the dance floor. The concert began a few minutes after the scheduled start time and we were welcomed by one of the dance students who provided us with information regarding the performances which were all pieces choreographed and performed by students. The lights then went black and when they came back up 2 female dancers were ready to begin.IMG_1114

The dancers were diverse and all performed with grace and beauty. I was impressed by not only the dancer’s skills but the support that the dancers gave one another. Each performance was well received by the audience and the loud applause was an audible demonstration of their appreciation and delight. The dancers told stories using their bodies and their music was chosen wisely. The performance right before intermission provided the audience with a sensory experience- music and dance were combined with props in the form of a treasure box and sand and dirt. The aroma added to the story and the experience.IMG_1118

Intermission provided an opportunity for audience members to purchase snacks via donation with all of the proceeds going to the Vargas Scholarship. This scholarship was created in memory of a very special student who passed away several years ago. I donated money to this scholarship knowing that one of these talented and hardworking students would benefit! I headed back to my seat after a few moments in the foyer excited to view the remaining pieces. I was not disappointed as the final pieces were as fabulous as the first performances. 

The last piece not only involved dance but acting and live music. This piece was the most entertaining and I could tell the students enjoyed being able to act along with their choreographed moves. The concert ended and the audience roared with applause. Family members presented students with flowers and hugs and I left the theatre impressed with the USF dance students. I will most definitely be back for more performances and I encourage you to take some time to support the USF dance Department and their amazing students!IMG_1120

I am excited to see the musical Violet performed by the USF theatre department next week. This time I have great expectations and I am sure that I won’t be disappointed!

IMG_1113

If you would like to attend a performance of the upcoming musical Violet, here is the information:

5042-Violet Poster Image webpage

Violet
Music by Jeanine Tesori and Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley
Based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts
Directed by Douglas Hall
April 14-16 & 21-23, 2016 @ 7:30pm
April 17 & 24, 2016 @ 3pm
Theatre 1, Tampa Campus

With a lead role that won Sutton Foster a Tony nomination for the 2014 Broadway revival and music by Jeanine Tesori (of smash Broadway hit Fun Home fame) Violet tells the story of a young woman’s quest for beauty amidst the image-obsessed landscape of the 1960s. Facially disfigured in a childhood accident, Violet dreams of a miraculous transformation through the power of faith. Convinced that a televangelist in Oklahoma can heal her, she hops a Greyhound bus and starts the journey of a lifetime and discovers the true meaning of beauty, courage and love. 

Tickets for all events are available by phone or at the Box Office (Open: Tues. – Fri. 12:00pm – 4:00pm, weekdays) beginning two weeks prior to opening night.

For day of performance ticket purchases:
The Box Office will be located at the event venue and will be open 2 hours prior to performance time.

Disclosure: I was given tickets in exchange for social media love and blog posts promoting events by the USF college of the arts. All opinions are my own. 

04/10/16

Be better, not bitter

Sometimes life throws us curve-balls that we don’t understand. 
My curve-ball happened in 2012 when I lost my mom to breast cancer. 10345829_10152481236247474_5473854155657901203_n

I was only 32 and it was hard to wrap my brain around just how much my life would change from that one event. At the time I didn’t know it, but as I look back on the past 4 years without my mother, life is definitely “different”. 

We all experience loss- loss of a loved one, friend, spouse, children. Loss of a job, divorce, homes. The feeling of loss is one that we cannot avoid, but we can decide how we will live our lives after that loss and just what type of “different” life will evolve into. 

When it is all said and done, we have two choices- we can be bitter, or we can be better. 

let_your_past_better-89941

Being better has helped me grieve in a positive way. It has pulled me out of sad places and way too many pity parties that I’m willing to admit. And while it didn’t happen over night, I learned that choosing to be better is always the right move. 

Being better means being optimistic, and holding tightly to a dream for a positive future, instead of bitterly gripping onto past heartbreak. Be a match (in your words and your actions) for the life you want, not the life you had. 

Being better means building positive relationships with people who are willing to be there for you, instead of bitterly hiding and shutting the world off or surrounding yourself with those who drag you down. 

Being better means rethinking and letting go of negative thoughts, controlling actions or imprisoning behaviors that prevent you from moving forward. 

Being better means having the courage to embrace change, instead of bitterly wishing for things to remain the what they once were. Let your past make you better, not bitter. 

Being better means giving back and making a difference in the lives of those who need it. 

Being better means having the urge to learn, grow and set positive goals for yourself instead of of bitterly accepting the status quo and settling for dormancy. 

Being better means speaking your truth and owning your originality– with pride. 

Being better means finding happiness in the present, not bitterly waiting for Friday, the perfect body, or the perfect moment. 

Being better means being thankful for what life is like now, instead of bitterly wishing for what it could have been. 

Being better means a happy life. One full of meaningful and positive moments, instead of doubts and regrets. 

No matter what life throws your way, you can always choose to be better.

Today I remembered my mom on the day before the 4th anniversary of her passing by choosing to be better. I had a wonderful day enjoying breakfast with Brian, followed by a fun day of farmer’s markets, lunch with my nearest and dearest, ice cream on the beach and collecting shells at sunset at the beach where we released my mom’s ashes. 

A beautiful day indeed. 

8c15eeaf-b811-4e61-9513-2d0257ce31e8

Ropa vieja was one of my mom’s favorite meals!

f537a84b-7dc7-4877-be09-7b2239a267a7

3e554d25-9c8c-4dea-91fa-0c050da6ad6a

955d0d0d-3aa7-4a6e-bf65-4ba4383ec4e6

a76ea214-cfbf-41f9-bd5f-5134a55b4f27

e66b3ec4-d9de-4715-bd46-d2565d8cb99b

Miss you mom. I know you’re dancing among the starfish. #TeamJudy #BeBrave #BeBetter

sig

03/19/16

Tiramisu truffles

It seems like everywhere you go on social media people are posting quick cooking videos. 

I know you know what I’m talking about- those aerial shot videos that are usually less than 30 seconds, that websites and social pages like “Tasty” and “Buzzfeed food” have started  posting. They are literally EVERYWHERE. If you haven’t seen them, then you must not be on social media. 😉 Continue reading

02/27/16

Recap: Race for the Cupcake (& a #Giveaway)

I love 5k races. 
But when you promise me a cupcake at the finish line, that love turns into all caps L-O-V-E. 

When my friend Jeremy told me that he was running his first 5k and asked me if I wanted to come along, let’s just say no arm-twisting was needed since the event he was doing was called, none other than, Race for the Cupcake.  Continue reading

02/20/16

Peppery Caesar deviled eggs #GetUrGreenOn

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through a partnership with organicgirl and the Tampa Bay Bloggers to promote the #GetUrGreenOn campaign. I received compensation in the form of free products for this post. All opinions are my own.

It’s been about a month since I was chosen to participate in the organicgirl partnership with the Tampa Bay Bloggers. Part of the campaign includes developing a recipe using these delicious products which will be judged by a panel of celebrity judges at Datz on March 15th!  Continue reading