The ABC’s of Thankfulness

Here’s what I’m thankful for this year… in alphabetical order (thank you Pioneer Woman for the inspiration!). 

Adventures. Half marathons, trips, goals, challenges. I’m thankful for them all!

Brian. My main guy. He’s funny, oh-so-cute, and one of the smartest guys I know. He makes me smile. I just love him!10985421_10153515676102474_732859340723440564_n

Chickens. My sweet baby hens. I just adore them.

11700812_10153529003517474_8017615967643973464_n (1)Dad. My dad is one of a kind. He’s an avid hunter(ish), can fix almost anything, loves an adventure, camping in the woods, crispy fried chicken and good cigars. 1966751_10153127532502474_8399906006736248456_nEducation. I love teaching my kiddos #allthescience. 

Friends. My main girls. My best friends. They are there when I need them and couldn’t ask for a better circle of girlfriends! 63785_10152986920997474_8834063180402041110_n

Godparents. My godparents have given me guidance, support, lots of love and kindness for the past 36 years. I couldn’t ask for a better pair. 10375092_10152651390907474_9139817058795267956_n

House. Our home is warm, cozy, and inviting. It’s full of memories, friends and loving moments. 

Iced coffee. All day. Everyday. 

Jason. My baby brother. He’s a firefighter, an adventure-seeker, and still as goofy as he was when he was 10. 1234879_10151953744777474_1330192708_nKeepsakes. I’m thankful for old recipes from my grandmothers, trinkets that remind me of my mom, and mementos from my childhood that I have tucked away for safe keeping. 

Love. Honest, deep, mad, true, head-over-heels love!10653826_10152741414787474_8646149832800265194_n

Mom. She’s been gone for three years, but her legacy of joy lives on. She was always happy, loved to entertain guests, a fabulous home-cook, amateur singer, and was always up for something fun. 

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Nature. Beautiful scenery makes my heart all pitter patter. 

Orangespoken. My blog. Seven years ago when I started it, I had no idea what a wonderful ride I was in for!

Pets. I’ve always had pets. From bunnies and dogs to chickens and cats. Coming home to a furry friend makes the world go ’round. 

Quirks. I’m thankful for the things that make us unique and special!

Relatives. From dozens of cousins, Brian’s family, aunts, uncles and even a remaining grandparent, it’s a lovely thought to know I’m surrounded by people who I share a bond with for life!1374058_10152014192827474_18663174_n

Summer. All of it. 

The Dave Matthews Band. My happy place. My heart. My soul. Enough said. 

Universe. I love gazing up at the heavens. The stars, the infinite sky, the Milky Way, meteor showers. :::sigh:::

Vacations. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to travel and explore. Road trips are my favorite. <3IMG_1660

Writing. Like this post. 😉

Xylophones? X-rays? Xerox machines? I guess I’m thankful for them all! 

YOU! I love and appreciate all of you who take the time to visit my blog and read my posts! Thank you!

Zombies. Specifically The Walking Dead. It’s entertaining and gives us something (besides football!) to look forward to on Sunday evenings. Plus, it has taught us everything we’ll need to know about surviving the apocalypse, right? 😉

Wishing you and your a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!



Shop #SmallBusinessSaturday at Hyde Park Village in #Tampa!

I’ve never been a fan of Black Friday.
In fact, once I went (against my better judgement) to a big box store at their midnight opening and saw people getting into a brawl over 50 cent socks. 

Come on now. 

Since then I’ve politely declined any invitations to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon and stick to participating in something MUCH more my pace: Small Business Saturday! 

This Small Business Saturday, buy what you love from the businesses you love. And keep money in your community for better schools, cleaner parks, and more playgrounds. #ShopSmall For All.


I love shopping local, and Tampa provides me with SO many wonderful, family owned, independent and small businesses all around our city. Hyde Park Village, in South Tampa, is one of my favorite destinations for small business shopping. From spots like Papersource (my favorite!) and West Elm, there is something for everyone in this gorgeous village. Hyde Park Village is the PERFECT place to find something special for everyone on your holiday shopping list. 

This Small Business Saturday (November 28, 2015) from 10am-7pm, Hyde Park Village will be offering up some wonderful offerings for shoppers! There will be store specials, live music, Buddy Brew coffee (oh yeah!), in-store events and giveaways! In addition, the South Tampa Chamber will be at the fountain in the middle of the square at 11am to give out official Shop Small Tote Bags to the first 200 shoppers! For more info, click here. 


Hope to see you there!



5 reasons why I love the #MitsubishiOutlanderSport

Disclosure: Thanks to the amazing DriveShop, I was able to drive this gorgeous 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander sport in exchange for blog and social media love. All opinions are my own.

Last month a little beauty was dropped on my doorstep…

7c9bcdf9-7a18-496d-b660-e9b77b1a4572This gorgeous 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was mine for the week! And I was going to take full advantage of our time together. Between routine trips to the gym and work, shopping excursions, quick trips around town (and even down South to Sarasota!), and a few date nights… we definitely got to know the Outlander Sport inside and out!

With all of those miles, I was able to narrow it down to 5 fabulous reasons why I loved the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport!

1. The technology. The Outlander Sport comes with optional Sirius XM radio, rear back-up cameras, navigation system (on a 6.1″ touchscreen display!), one-touch engine start/stop switch, Rockford Fosgate premium audio system (which pumps up to 710 watts through nine speakers-including a 10-inch dual-voice coil subwoofer!) 

2. The panoramic glass ceiling. The Outlander Sport comes with an optional panoramic glass roof which I LOVED. In fact it was my favorite thing about the vehicle. I had it open the. entire. time. You literally have a view of the sky from any seat in the vehicle! Sidenote: Getting this option means no center/back dome light, however it does include track lighting around the perimeter of the panoramic glass.



3. The storage. The Outlander Sport has LOTS of cargo space. I was able to fit in QUITE a bit from some of my favorite shopping destinations. 😉



4. The gas mileage. I personally own a crossover SUV and love how great the gas mileage is on these smaller vehicles. The Outlander Sport gets around 25 (city) and 32 (highway) miles per gallon. That is SUCH a selling point for me as we do a lot of traveling and camping road trips! 


5. The warranty. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sports comes with an AMAZING warranty. Combining a 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty3, a 5-year/60,000-mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty, a 7-year/100,000-mile Anti-Corrosion/Perforation Limited Warranty and 5-years/Unlimited miles of roadside assistance, the Outlander Sport will keep you worry-free!

If you’re in the market for a crossover SUV (that’s budget friendly as well!), you should definitely check out the Outlander Sport. And go for the blue… it’s GORGEOUS! 😉



My favorite #Thanksgiving recipes

October came and went in a flash! 

But that’s ok, because I’m ready (oh-so-ready) for all of the fun the holidays bring! 

We have so many fun things planned over the next couple of weeks that each morning I wake up with an extra pep in my step knowing that I’m one day closer to camping trips, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, a cabin in the mountains getaway, and of course, CHRISTMAS!

With all of these plans, we’re certainly living up to “mooooooooooooooooost wonderful timmmmmmmmmmmme of the yearrrrrrrrrrrrr” status! 

Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet. After all, Thanksgiving has the spotlight right now, so sorry Christmas, you’ll have to wait a couple more weeks for your turn. 

This year we’re spending Thanksgiving with family up in Inverness, FL. My father spends the month of November at Tillis Hills campground attempting to hunt for deer. Thankfully the main dish of our Thanksgiving holiday is turkey, because we’d be ALL out of luck if we had to depend on dad for a kill. (I secretly think he enjoys just being out there in the great wild- having no intention on actually killing anything- just enjoying some peace and quiet). 😉

I’m starting to pull together my tried-and-true Thanksgiving favorites while I decide what I want to prepare. My father has a camper with a small kitchen, but I’m going to prepare and cook everything at home, then pack it all up in a cooler and re-heat as needed when we arrive at the campground. I was watching The Kitchen yesterday on Food Network and LOVED the idea of placing hot food items into a cooler to stay warm! Genius! 

Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes that I’m perusing through at the moment!

First up, appetizers!

Eggplant stuffed mushrooms
Grain-free sausage balls
Jalapeno bites
Creamy vegetable tartlets

Next up, side dishes!

Spicy, crispy cauliflower
Honey Dijon Brussels sprouts
Mashed acorn squash with honey and roasted garlic

And of course, my mom’s favorite turkey recipe! Ina Garten’s perfect roast turkey is, well, PERFECT! My mom discovered this recipe a long time ago, and we’ve been making it ever since. It’s SO flavorful, juicy and delicious. It’s the last turkey recipe you will EVER need! 10458156_10152942040842474_3016058970507241851_n

What about bread? Well I have a treat for YOU… a new recipe! And because Thanksgiving doesn’t have to involve boring, same old same old dinner rolls, why not shake things up with a skillet cornbread! This recipe is PACKED with dried cranberries, pecans, scallions and warm spices like cinnamon, smoked paprika and nutmeg! I promise you will LOVE it!7580bf4d-6ed2-40d2-809a-1133246ad73a

Cranberry, pecan and scallion skillet cornbread
Serves 8
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
  1. 1¼ cup of ground cornmeal
  2. ¾ cup of gluten-free flour (or use AP flour)
  3. 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  4. 1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
  5. 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  6. 1 tsp. of sea salt
  7. 3 tsps. of baking powder
  8. 1/2 cup raw honey
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1⅓ cup of buttermilk
  11. 8tbsp. of melted unsalted butter + 1tbsp. solid butter to grease the skillet
  12. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  13. 1/8 cup diced scallions
  14. 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  1. Prep: Prior to cooking, pre-heat oven to 400. Place the ungreased cast iron skillet in the oven while it's pre-heating. Melt the butter and let cool, dice the scallions. If you don't have buttermilk, measure out the same amount of regular milk and add 2 tbsp. of lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes and you'll have a perfect buttermilk replacement!
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and spices.
  3. Whisk in the buttermilk, honey, eggs and butter until well combined. Stir in the cranberries, pecans and scallions. Set aside.
  4. Remove skillet from the oven with an oven mitt (it's going to be super hot!) and reduce oven temperature to 375. Spread the extra tbsp. of butter on the skillet to coat.
  5. Pour cornbread batter into the skillet, and place it in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick test proves done.
  6. Serve with honey butter for an extra something, something!
Orangespoken http://orangespoken.com/
 What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Do you cook? If so, what’s your signature dish? Do share!



Slowcooker butternut squash soup w/ grilled cheese croutons

The fall and winter seasons are my favorite times of the year. I love the change of the temperatures, the holidays, the vacations and all those warm-fuzzies that come along with this time of year. 

Especially cheesy holiday Hallmark movies. *squee!*

While it’s ridiculously hot in my neck of the woods (Tampa, FL), I’m excited for a few cold-fronts that will be headed our way this week, AND extremely looking forward to our trip to the mountains of North Georgia in T-20 days. 

Even though temperatures are unseasonably warm, nothing is stopping me from lowering the a/c, throwing on some cozy pajamas, and whipping up slow cooker comforting soups like this. 

Hey, fake it til’ you make it!

This creamy butternut squash soup is delicious on it’s own, but I’ve topped it with, wait for it, grilled cheese croutons! You’re welcome. 

In addition, this soup is gluten-free (you can easily make the croutons GF with some Udi’s GF bread), and vegetarian! IMG_1668

Butternut squash soup w/ grilled cheese croutons
Serves 8
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
6 hr
  1. 1 sweet onion
  2. 3 large carrots
  3. 3 red potatoes
  4. 3 cups of butternut squash
  5. 6 cups of vegetable broth
  6. 1/2 cup cream or half & half
  7. 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  8. 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  9. 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  10. 2 tsp. sea salt
  11. 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  12. 1tsp. smoked paprika
  13. 4 slices of Ezkiel sprouted bread
  14. 4-6 slices of good cheddar cheese
  15. 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  1. Prep: Prior to cooking, wash and diced (into large chunks) the potatoes and carrots. Peel and chop the onion into smaller chunks, peel and mince the garlic and peel and remove the seeds and cut the butternut squash into chunks the same size as the potatoes. You can also use pre-diced butternut squash (Trader Joe's). Make sure you have all of your spices out, and that your slow-cooker is out, plugged in and uncovered so that you can easily throw all of your ingredients in. Leave your cream in the fridge. You won't need it until the end.
  2. Set your slow cooker to high. Add in potatoes, carrots, squash, onion, garlic, spices and vegetable broth. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours. You want all of the vegetables to be soft.
  3. Turn off the slow cooker and let the soup cool a bit. Using an immersion (stick) blender, blend until smooth. If you don't have a stick blender, cool the soup COMPLETELY, then place into a regular blender in small batches. Do not put hot soup in a blender! It will explode everywhere and you could get hurt! Return to the slow cooker and heat to serve, or heat in small servings as needed.
  4. Prior to serving, stir in the cream, add a bit more salt and pepper (to taste), then top with a sprinkle of extra smoked paprika.
  5. For the croutons: Preheat a frying pan to medium high heat ,and an oven to 350. Make a traditional grilled cheese. Let cool a bit, then cut into 1in x 1in squares. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Float on the top of your soup and enjoy!
Orangespoken http://orangespoken.com/


My mom’s party Cubanitos

My mom loved ANY reason to celebrate.
Life itself was a celebration.


Our family threw a LOT of parties. And my mom was always the first to begin organizing and planning. Between her and my godmother Laurie creative brains at work, parties and celebrations were ALWAYS special… and sometimes completely over the top!

I remember having fabulous birthday parties when I was a kid. They weren’t extravagant, and they never, broke the budget, but they were FUN. Insanely fun. We had a HUGE above ground pool in our backyard for almost 20 years. Since my birthday falls in June, most of my parties centered around that pool. My mom would plan these amazing pool parties with a mix of homemade food (and ALWAYS a homemade cake) and a purchased items like scachatta pizza from Alessi bakery, and a platter of buffalo wings from Publix. 


But the one thing that stands out as my most vivid party memory was my mom’s Cubanitos.

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These Cubanitos made an appearance at every shindig. My grandmother and my mom would whip a heaping tray of these delicious mini sandwiches with fresh Cuban bread (from La Segunda Central bakery, of course!), fresh roasted pork, Virginia baked ham, Swiss cheese, paper-thin Genoa salami, pickle slices and a combination of mayonnaise and yellow mustard: stirred together then slathered on both sides of the bread. 

Now this post isn’t about what makes the perfect “Cuban.” We all know that this famous Florida sandwiches varies from region to region. This post is to fill you in on what makes our family parties special, and to share with you a little taste of my childhood… and my mom. 

That was the thing about my mom. Celebrations fueled her never ending spirit. She was always in the mood for a party or an adventure. I can only hope that somewhere, somehow I have a piece of that spirit inside me. We all should. My mom knew how to love life, and live it passionately. Isn’t that the ONLY way we should experience life?

This weekend we celebrated my baby brother’s 27th birthday. And of course, mom’s Cubanitos made an appearance. 


Even though my mom isn’t with us anymore, making these Cubanitos for family get-togethers and parties makes me feel like a little part of her is celebrating along with us. And now, I want to share this little piece of my mom with YOU!

These party Cubanitos are easy to whip up, crowd-pleasing, and can be made ahead of time. You can buy all of the ingredients at any supermarket- but if you want to make them extra delicious, you must take the extra step and purchase a loaf of real Cuban bread. To make it even MORE amazing, use freshly roasted pork. You can roast a pork loin or butt yourself, using a bottle of store bough sour orange marinade, or hit up your local Cuban or Spanish restaurant and purchase a pound of roast pork. If you’re in Tampa, most Publix supermarkets offer delicious roast pork in their hot foods section. 

Party Cubanitos
Yields 24
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
  1. 2 loaves of Cuban bread (if you can't find Cuban bread, use a French or Italian loaf)
  2. 1lb roast pork (with mojo)
  3. 1lb thinly sliced Virginia baked ham
  4. 1/2lb thinly sliced Genoa salami
  5. 1/2lb thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  6. 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  7. 3/4 cup mayo
  8. 24 sliced pickles
  9. toothpicks
  1. In a bowl, mix mustard and mayo until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Using a serrated knife, slice each loaf of Cuban bread in half lengthwise.
  3. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to coat each side of the loaf with a thin layer of the mustard/mayo mixture.
  4. Layer the sandwich filling in the following order all the way down the bottom of each loaf: 2 slices of folded ham, 1 slice of folded Genoa salami, the shredded roast pork, 1 slice of folded cheese, 1 pickle. Then, take the top of the loaf and placed it on top of the filling.
  5. Use toothpicks to secure the top of the loaf, and as a guide for how large you want to slice your Cubanitos. I typically space them out so that I get 12 per loaf- including "the pico (point)"- my mom's favorite part!
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Orangespoken http://orangespoken.com/




Melitta Coffee review & a GIVEAWAY for YOU!

I’ll be honest. 

I had never heard about Melitta coffee until just recently when I was invited to take a tour of their USA headquarters just a few miles away in Clearwater! 

The company was founded 107 years ago in Germany, when a housewife invented the first coffee filter and drip coffee method as we know today. She brewed it using the method of the day-wrapping loose coffee grounds in a cloth and boiling the cloth in water. So she found a brass cup and punched holes in its bottom, fitted a piece of her son’s blotting paper over the holes, placed fresh ground coffee on the paper and filled the cup with hot water, just off the boil. It worked perfectly- she got a flavorful, sweet, clean cup of coffee, and thus the Melitta Company was born. Melitta Bentz worked continually to improve this simple method of filtered coffee making, and is recognized today as the inventor of the cone filtration system which is still considered a superior method of brewing coffee. Today, their vision is simple: Melitta relentlessly focuses on being a leader in the coffee and coffee preparation industry, with an unyielding passion for bringing a European café experience to the american coffee drinker, regardless of the consumer’s choice of brewing method.

Melitta’s premium coffee and high-quality products are sold at most major retailers (like Publix), and are also used at many Tampa restaurants (Piquant) and coffee shops (Buddy Brew). Their pour-over products are even sold at one of my most favorite spots in Tampa: The Oxford Exchange! 

 The pour-over method Melitta invented all those years ago is the method of brewing that Melitta is viewed by many coffee aficionados as the best way to make great coffee. The method is VERY simple: A cone shaped device that resembles the filter holder section of auto-drip machines is placed on top of a mug or carafe. A paper filter is inserted into the cone and coffee is inserted into the filter. Water is then poured over the coffee and the flow of water is regulated by a hole in the bottom of the cone, which takes about a minute to brew. ey sen

Now if you know me, you know that coffee and I are bff’s. I love, and I mean LOVE coffee. It started way back in once upon a time time with my very first love affair with Cuban cafe con leche when I was a child. My grandmother would make piping hot cups of the delicious drink after family dinners, parties and holiday get togethers. I have fond memories of being 9 or 10 years old, sitting around my grandmother’s kitchen table after midnight gift opening frenzies at my grandparent’s house on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) laughing, telling stories, and sipping on cafe con leche out of small Styrofoam cups. With each sip of coffee, I’m reminded of these fun times and to this day, coffee still brings my just as much joy as it did back then. 

I was so excited to try the pour-over method using some goodies I received from Melitta! They sent me an amazing package which included my own pour-over drip cone, a can of their signature classic blend medium roast coffee, a variety of filters, including their Earth friendly bamboo and premium filters (which are double crimped and contain micro fine flavor enhancing perforations which help to release coffee’s full flavor, while filtering out impurities for a richer tasting cup), along with a box of the classique single serve k-cups, perfect for your Keurig at-home brewer! 


I decided to try the pour-over method first with the medium roast classic blend this morning before work. I heated water in my microwave, then poured the hot water into the cone. In no time I had a rich and delicious cup of coffee, without any bitterness or grounds in the cup. Coffee perfection! unnamed (3)

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I made an extra cup, popped it into the fridge and had a perfect cup of iced coffee, which turned out to be a fantastic after-work treat! unnamed (1)

How would YOU like to win all of the Melitta products pictured above? (except for the chicken mug- that’s allllll mine). I graciously received an extra bundle of Melitta goodies to share with one of YOU guys! Use the Rafflecopter below and enter to win! I’ll pick a winner this weekend. Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Diclosure: I was provided with Melitta products in exchange for a review on the blog. All caffeine induced opinions are all my own. 😉


2015 Kia Sedona SXL review!

Last week I had an opportunity to review a 2015 Kia Sedona as part of the blogger outreach program through DriveShop USA

Our family owned  two “mini-vans” when I was a kid. Our first was a maroon beast with no a/c vents in the back, so we had attached one of those portable fans in between the driver and passenger seat so that the people (us children) sitting in the back would get some type of circulation to prevent us from roasting in the Florida heat. When my parents started talking about trading in the van for something else, I remember being completely ecstatic! Continue reading


Co-Op For A Cure

October is fast approaching. And since losing my mother to breast cancer 3 years ago, October has become a time of reflection and advocacy. And although my efforts with #TeamJudy last all throughout the year, because breast cancer isn’t just a month long fight, I do enjoy participating in all things Pink for the month of October. I feel like it’s necessary and important; another piece in the puzzle that is living life after losing a parent to cancer.

This October #TeamJudy will be participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k in downtown Tampa, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Glow run in downtown St. Pete!  Continue reading


Orange Theory Fitness Review

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a registered dietitian, nutritionist or personal trainer. I am sharing my own workout and training experience which is unique, and may not reflect the experiences of others. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for them. Before considering any workout routine or lifestyle change, please consult your physician.

If you’ve been an Orangespoken reader for a while now, and follow me on the social media outlets, you’ve probably heard me talk about Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) once or twice, or 1,000 times. It’s because I truly love the place. And that’s no lie. In fact, no one is compensating me for this post. I’m not “working” for Orangetheory (even though my blog title may say otherwise) 😉 I just really dig the workout. I’ve been there for over two years and each time I leave a 60 minute session, I walk out refreshed, energized; feeling strong, empowered and confident. Yes kids, it’s really that good. Continue reading