05/18/16

If/Then, Again and Again: A musical review

By Jennifer BennettIMG_2458

As part of a partnership with the Tampa Bay Bloggers and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, I received tickets to attend If/Then in exchange for social media promotion and show review. All opinions are those of the writers here at Orangespoken. 

 

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If then… again and again. There are those moments in life when we think to ourselves what if… what if I had taken the bus instead of the train? What if I had taken that job instead of staying comfortable where I am? What if I instead of taking action you did nothing at all? At some point in our lives we ponder the “if/then” possibilities and this musical tells the story of one such woman who asks what if… 

Photo courtesy of the Straz.

Photo courtesy of the Straz.

IF/THEN is a contemporary new musical that follows two distinct story lines in the life of Elizabeth, a city planner who moves back to New York to restart her life in that city of infinite possibilities. When her carefully designed plans collide with the whims of fate, Elizabeth’s life splits in to two parallel paths. IF/THEN follows both stories simultaneously as this modern woman faces the intersection of choice and chance. (The Straz, March 30, 2016)

Photo courtesy of the Straz.

Photo courtesy of the Straz.

Act one opens with the introduction of Elizabeth singing “What If and you are immediately swept into her world. The ongoing battle between fate and choices is the running theme. Is it fate that leads us into and out of people’s lives or do we make the choice to stay or go?  If/Then allows the audience to experience and embrace the struggle and decide for themselves if it is fate intervening or if choice after choice is guiding the characters.

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Photo courtesy of the Straz.

Jackie Burns plays Elizabeth, a woman on the verge of turning 40 whose smallest decisions or most random occurrences will impact her world in ways she never dreamed possible. Burns recently played the role of Elizabeth in IF/THEN on Broadway, and has also played the iconic role of Elphaba in Wicked, both on Broadway and in the first national tour. She starred in the 2009 Tony Award-winning revival of Hair, and also appeared in the original Off-Broadway cast of Rock of Ages. (The Straz, March 30, 2016)  Jackie allows the audience to relate and feel every moment with her. She has a beautiful and amazingly strong voice and her acting is perfection! 

When my daughter, who is a musical theatre student at Blake High School, realized Anthony Rapp was part of the tour we were even more thrilled to be seeing If/Then! Anthony Rapp plays Lucas, an old college friend of Elizabeth, who reconnects with her when she moves back to New York City. Rapp is best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in Jonathan Larson’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Rent. His other Broadway credits include his Broadway debut in Precious Sons with Judith Ivey and Ed Harris, for which he received an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk nomination, the original company of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation and the revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. (The Straz, March 30, 2016)  Anthony was as wonderful as we anticipated and he brought Lucas to life in our hearts. 

Matthew Hydzik plays Josh, a handsome doctor and army reservist who meets Elizabeth on her first day back in New York City. Hydzik’s Broadway credits include Side Show, West Side Story and Grease, to name a few. His national tour credits include Rent, Fame, Grease and Flashdance. (The Straz, March 30, 2016) Matthew will make you instantly fall in love with Josh! The song “Hey Kid” will cause you to fall deeper in love with this character.  

Tamyra Gray, who plays Kate, an elementary school teacher and Elizabeth’s spirited new neighbor, is best known as one of the top four finalists of the first season of American Idol. Gray is no stranger to Broadway having made her Broadway debut in Bombay Dreams in 2004, followed by playing Mimi Marquez in Rent. She penned the songs “I Believe” for Fantasia Barrino and “You Thought Wrong” for Kelly Clarkson. (The Straz, March 30, 2016) Fun, energetic, hopeful, Kate reminds us that each day is worth appreciating and the universe may just have a plan for us!26111367106_1501df2897_kThe staging and choreography are modern and remarkable. This story of two lives being told simultaneously is so well written and directed that there was no point in the show where we were unsure which life we were part of. I will warn you though, bring tissues! I do not want to spoil anything by telling you why but I can say that I wish someone had warned me.

In the end there is a simple moral to the tale of Liz/Beth and that is we cannot spend time looking back when we cannot change our past and wasting a moment trying to do so is just that; a waste. No matter which path we choose the other option isn’t better or worse; just different. You will laugh and you will cry and this is a good thing. If/Then makes you feel and this is what theatre is about! You will ponder your own life, choices, fate, experiences, and wonder what if and this too is good because when we look back we are reminded of how we got to where we are and just how lucky we are to have experienced our life thus far.

Get your tickets today and do not let this show pass you by! If/Then is a must see!

IF/THEN, will play the Straz Center’s Morsani Hall, May 17-22. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Regularly priced tickets are $40-$95, and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at www.strazcenter.org. Handling fees will apply. For more information about the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and its upcoming events, please visit www.strazcenter.org.

05/17/16

Margaritafest 2016 (and ticket giveaway!)

Margaritafest is BACK! 12742734_1017650738317216_6183630693904101243_n

We attended last year and the year before as part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers, and we’ve been lucky enough to be invited to attend again this year! I’ll be Tweeting and Instagramming all day, so make sure to follow @Orangespoken to keep up with all the fun!

And this year’s going to be EVEN BETTER. Why? Well because they have added a pre-margarita run along picturesque Riverwalk! That sounds like the PERFECT way to kick off a beautiful, margarita-filled late spring day in Tampa, if you ask me! 🙂13087662_1058404327575190_3136004616461449166_n

Here are the Details:
– Approximately 2.5 Miles Total
– Registration Begins at 10:00 am on the Riverwalk side of Curtis Hixon Park
– Race Begins: 11:00am
– Festival Gates Open: Noon

What the Run Registration Gets You:
– Run Entry
– 1 GA Admission to Tampa Bay Margarita Festival
– 1 Margarita Drink at the Festival
-Cool Margarita Shirt
-Cool Margarita Bottle Opener Medal
Price: $50 
(No on-site registration & limited to 500 so click here to register!

As for the Margaritafest details….
Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 12PM – 11PM
General Admission Tickets: $17 Click here to purchase
Entertainment: Grammy Winning headliner Blues Traveler
2016 Extras: Tequila Tasting & Margarita Run (see above!)
 
For the Tequila Tasting, you must have a General Admission ticket to experience this! Your tequila tasting add-on ($20) allows you try five different tequilas and there will be over 30 different types to choose from! 

A delicious array of margaritas, ice cold beer, food trucks and live bands will make this event one that you won’t want to miss! For a complete list of drink offerings, click here! 

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I’m giving away a pair of tickets below so you can join me!!!! How lucky for YOU! Just enter using the Rafflecopter app below! Good luck! 🙂 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

05/11/16

The 11th Annual Taste of South Tampa is this weeke!

A scrumptious event is about to hit Tampa this weekend! On Sunday, May 15th, the 11th annual Taste of South Tampa is coming to the beautiful Tampa Garden Club on Bayshore Blvd! The Taste of South Tampa is the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s signature annual event, presented by Older, Lundy & Alvarez Law. 

This food-filled event will run from 1-4pm. Local restaurants will be offering samples of their best dishes for guests to taste! Beer, wine, spirits and sodas will be offered as well to wash it all down.  The tickets are all inclusive and include: Unlimited food and beverage samples, live entertainment, access to activities in Kids Zone, give-aways from exhibitors, opportunities to win prizes by participating in the canned food drive and voting for the “Best of South Tampa” awards. This is going to be such a fun event that you won’t want to miss out! 

General admission tickets are currently $40 online, and will go up to $50 on the day of the event. Want to become a VIP? Purchase VIP Tickets for $75 and get: access special indoor & air conditioned space, a swag bag, additional food options, upgraded beverage selection, and entertainment! ***As of 5/14, VIP is sold out!***

WANT TO WIN A PAIR OF GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS? Follow me on Instagram (@orangespoken) for details! 
The best news? A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Metropolitan Ministries, an organization that I had experience working with last fall, and know how amazing they truly are. Interested in helping even more? Pack a few non-perishable items to bring with you to the Taste of South Tampa to help stock their pantry, and be eligible to prizes from the featured restaurants!

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Here is a list of some of the restaurants guests will be able to sample at Taste of South Tampa! 

Assorted beer varieties provided by Pepin Distributing! 

Anise Global Gastrobar

Beef O’ Brady’s Palma Ceia

Blue Chair Bay Rum

Cabot Creamery 

Cake Cuties Bakery

Carmel Kitchen & Wine Bar

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

Craving Donuts

Crispers

Eats American Grill

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

Hooters Restaurants

Inside The Box

Kahwa Coffee

Kona Grill

Lettuce Organic Tea

MacDinton’s Irish Pub

Maloney’s Local Irish Pub/The Hideaway

Margarita Festival

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Naked Fit Foods

NutriTruck, Inc

Players Sports Pub (DoubleTree)

Press Box Sports Emporium

PRP Wine International

Rollin’ Oats Market & Café

Rusty Pelican

SoHo Juice

Tastes of Tampa Bay Catering

The Blind Goat Food & Drink Co. 

The Centre Club

VIP – Ocean Prime 

VIP – Spunky Spirits

VIP- Besito Mexican

VIP- Bonefish 

VIP- Brio

VIP- DoubleTree Cookies

VIP- Due Amici

VIP- Schakolad Chocolate Factory

VIP- Seasons52

VIP-Grille One Sixteen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthTampaTaste 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SouthTampaTaste #STCOCTaste
Purchase Taste of South Tampa Tickets Here. 

Hope to see you there!

Steph 
Disclosure: I have partnered with the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce to promote and participate in Taste of South Tampa. I was provided with tickets. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own.
05/8/16

The 6th Annual #BrewsWithAttitude!

Thanks to a partnership with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I received complimentary tickets to attend the #BrewsWithAttitude Craft Beer Fest in exchange for a blog post & social media love. All opinions are my own.

Are you a fan of craft cider and awesome local craft beer? 

Then you MUST join me for the 6th Annual #BrewsWithAttitude Craft Beer Fest with over 100 Craft Beers & Ciders to sample, food trucks, hand-rolled cigars and live entertainment. 

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You can buy discounted pre-sale, advance and 6-pack deals before the event date. If available, tickets can also be purchased for cash or credit at the door. 

Admission Includes:
• Sampling of over 100 craft beers with the official Brews With Attitude tasting cup, but attendees must be 21+!
Brewery List (Pending)
3 Daughters
Big Storm
Big Top
Black Fox Meadery
Blue Point
Bold City
Coppertail
Darwin
Florida Avenue
Goose Island
Green Flash
Hidden Springs
Kona
Mad Beach
Magic Hat
Motorworks
Omission
Pair O’ Dice
Rapp
Redhook
Rochester Mills
Shipyard/Sea Dog
Shock Top
Southern Tier
Stella
SweetWater
Tampa Bay Brewing
Victory
Widmer
Wild Ginger
Wine Stream
Woodchuck
Fat Point 

It’s going to be held THIS Tuesday, May 10th, 6-10PM (rain or shine) at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre. Tickets are on sale here.

See you there!

05/6/16

2015 Kia Soul! Review

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to drive and review a 2015 Kia Soul! as part of the blogger outreach program through DriveShop USA

This crossover vehicle is just AWESOME. I have seen the Kia Soul! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name of this particular model) on the road and never really thought I would actually like them. Well, I LOVED it. Not only was it so much fun to drive, but it was a LOT roomier than I expected.  

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Not only is the Soul! a roomy and fun head-turner, but it’s also built with quality and care. From stitching details along the seats and dashboard, to the LED interior lighting- this vehicle looks, feels and drives like a million bucks. The best part? You won’t need to win the lottery to afford one of the these. Kia provides sporty and fun luxury and safety at an affordable price; which makes me love this company and their vehicles even more. 

The 2015 Kia Soul! is great on gas as well- getting 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. It comes with standard 18″ alloy wheels, and a gorgeous panoramic sunroof with power sunshade.IMG_5331

The soul seats 5 passengers comfortably, and has a surprising amount of space in the rear cargo area, including hidden compartments for extra storage.IMG_5334

IMG_5465And you can transport your family and friends confidently due to the amazing safety features this vehicle offers. 

Driver Air Bag & Passenger Air Bag
Side Head Air Bag
Rear Head Air Bag
Side Air Bag
4-Wheel ABS
4-Wheel Disc Brakes
Brake Assist
Electronic Stability Control
Child Safety Locks
Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors
Tire pressure monitoring systems

Some of the other features in the 2015 Kia Soul! that help make your ride enjoyable and safe is the crisp and clear rear camera display, GPS capabilities, heated and cooling seats, Infinity Audio System with Center Speaker, sub-woofer, and external amplifier, SUPER fun speaker lights that bounce and change with your music choice, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, and hands-free Bluetooth connectivity including Sirius XM radio.IMG_5328

The more I drive Kia vehicles, the more I fall in love with them. If you’re in the market for a new crossover SUV, consider the Kia Soul!. There is truly something for everyone and you can feel good (and have a BLAST!) driving your loved ones in this amazing vehicle!

Special thanks to Kia and DriveShop for this opportunity. I can’t wait to work with you again and see what else you have in store! If you want to know more about Kia you can follow them on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and visit their website at www.Kia.com. #DriveKia 

05/3/16

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. 

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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. 

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

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

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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. 

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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
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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/
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04/15/16

Spring Events at the USF College of the Arts

By guest blogger Jennifer Bennett10308298_10203749113037648_7190395883525380876_n

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!

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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. 

04/4/16

2016 Mazda 6 Review #DriveMazda

This adventure was made possible through my blogging partnership with the awesome people at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided me with a vehicle to test drive. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more…Mazda builds some BEAUTIFUL vehicles. e6407047-1bf7-4765-85b5-abf579209003I spent a whole week with the gorgeous, luxurious and sporty Mazda 6 Grand Touring over spring break a few weeks ago, and I must say, it was difficult letting it go at the week’s end! Between the bright and shiny soul red paint job, to the 19-inch alloy wheels, it was love at first sight. But it didn’t stop there- the inside is a show stopper as well. This option came loaded with gorgeous black leather seats, and a crisp and clean dashboard that was not only beautiful, but easy to navigate. 

When I was originally given the opportunity to test drive the Mazda 6 over spring break, I had planned to take the vehicle for a few stay-cation road trips in and around the surrounding area. There is SO much to do near where I live (Tampa Bay, FL) that just a 1/2 tank of gas will provide you with a change of scenery. As it came closer to test drive time, I started talking to one of my best friends about her upcoming surgery. Liz, from the amazing blog, No Ordinary Liz, truly has #noordinarylife. Somehow, some way, she managed to tear not one but BOTH of her Achilles tendons! Last fall she had her first surgery and when she was almost healed, her doctor began talking about scheduling the second surgery. Liz is completely on her own for the most part, but luckily she has a HUGE network of people (including her amazing sister and brother-in-law) that were here to help her for both surgeries. When Liz began talking about how it would be difficult for her sister to take off a week of work to help her during her first week post-op, I suggested that Liz schedule her second Achilles surgery during my spring break so that she would have the help that she needed. Well, we certainly made the most of the Mazda 6 during that time- and trips to the doctor’s office for post-op visits were a little more special than they would have beenIMG_4586

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The Mazda 6 is surprisingly roomy. Liz (and her cast which we kindly dubbed “the chicken nugget”) was able to sit comfortably for the almost 30 minute drive to the doctor’s office and was floored by the 180 degree incline that the front seats recline to! She was feeling a bit uncomfortable on the ride home, but was able to recline and rest a bit with that comfortable feature. I was also floored by the amount of space the trunk had! Although I didn’t snap a picture, we were able to fit Liz’s folding wheelchair PLUS two full size crutches in the trunk. I did, however, snap a picture of a Target trip that same week. 

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In addition to the comfort and space, I loved the rear back-up camera, the Bose centerpoint premium audio surround system, crystal clear LED lighting system, and the gorgeous view from the one touch open moonroof/sunroof. The Mazda 6 is also excellent on gas mileage, getting 26/38 MPG with the 184 HP 2.5L SKYACTIV-G-powered engine. 

In addition, the 2016 Mazda 6 is equipped with available Smart City Brake Support. There are some amazing safety features, but my favorite would have to be the blind spot monitoring control, the rain sensing windshield wipers and rear view back-up camera with rear-cross traffic alert. It’s a great feeling to know that I those added safety features right at my finger tips. I also really appreciated the head’s up display! It took a day or so to get used to it, but once I did, I was hooked.  

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Some additional features of the 2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring
Engine/Mechanical Features

  • SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
  • 184 hp @ 5700 rpm; 185 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm torque
  • Front-Wheel Drive
  • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
  • Electric Power Assisted Steering

Exterior Features

  • 19-inch Alloy Wheels
  • P225/45 R19 all-season radial tires
  • Variable Rain-Sensing Wipers
  • Power sliding-glass moonroof with one-touch-open feature and interior sunshade
  • Heated Power Mirrors w/ Turn Lamps
  • LED daytime running lights 

Interior Features

  • 5-Passenger Seating
  • Air conditioner with pollen filter
  • Tilt & Telescopic Steering Column
  • Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel w/ Audio/Cruise/Bluetooth Controls
  • Power Automatic Door Locks
  • Power Windows w/ Driver One-Touch
  • Leather Trimmed Sport Seats
  • 8-Way Power Driver’s Seat
  • Driver Power Lumbar Support
  • Manual Passenger Seat Lifter
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Mid w/ Trip Computer
  • Advanced Keyless Entry System
  • Electronic Parking Brake
  • Push Button Engine Start
  • Dual Zone Auto Climate Control
  • BOSE AM/FM/CD/MP3/SAT 9-SPK
  • HD Radio/Aux Jack/2 USB Input
  • Bluetooth Hands Free Phone/Audio
  • 7″ Color Touch-Screen Display
  • Multi-Function Commander Control
  • Rearview Camera
  • Dual Illuminated Vanity Mirrors
  • Center Armrest w/ Covered Storage
  • Rear Seat Center Armrest
  • Carpeted Floor Mats
  • Mazda Navigation system

Safety and Security Features

  • 60MO/60K MI Powertrain & 36MO/36K MI Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty
  • 24-Hour Roadside Assistance (36MO/36K MI)
  • 5-Passenger 3-Point Safety Belts
  • Latch Child Safety Seat Anchors
  • Anti-Theft Engine Immobilizer
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • SKYACTIV Body
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS with EBD & Brake Assist)
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Hill Launch Assist
  • Advanced Dual Front Airbags
  • Front Side-Impact Air Bags
  • Front & Rear Side Air Curtains

If you’re looking for a comfortable vehicle that is PERFECT for families, couples or even if you’re just living the independent life, check out the Mazda 6! It’s super affordable starting out at around $21,500!

Have you driven the Mazda 6? What did you think?