12/1/16

The Wine Shoppe in Blairsville, GA

A few months ago a group of my nearest and dearest got together and planned a week long trip up in the North Georgia mountains. Back in 2004 my mom and I were looking for a place to go camping during our winter school break. I can vividly remember sitting at the kitchen counter at my parent’s house scanning a map of the southeastern United States looking for a place that would be a) A day’s worth of driving distance and b) A change of scenery from our regular beachy Florida views. 

We ended up putting our finger smack on a city called Blairsville; in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia. After a quick Internet search we learned that this town was only an 8 hour ride from Tampa, boasted beautiful mountain views, wasn’t commercialized and “touristy” like other mountain towns, and was home to Brasstown Bald Mountain- the highest peak in Georgia.img_1441

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So much that we’ve returned almost every year since!

When my mom passed away, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to return to the area, but in 2012, Brian and I did just that. And we had an amazing time- especially being able to visit spots I had visited with my mom just years earlier. 

One thing we absolutely adore about Blairsville is its balance of charm, adventure and beauty. There are waterfalls to admire, hiking trails to lose your troubles on, and breath-taking landscapes that will make you stop and think about life’s purpose. We also love that there are so many unique shops, wineries, restaurants that give you an opportunity to add some special memories to your mountain getaway. 

A place that we discovered on our trip last year was The Wine Shoppe in downtown Blairsville. 15109566_1114176005368669_616050047339764742_n

This warm and inviting wine shoppe is located at 6 Town Square Unit A right across from the historic courthouse on the town circle. There is parking right in front of the shoppe, or you can travel a bit around the circle where you’ll easily find parking spaces to pull into.

Bill McGlamery, the owner of The Wine Shoppe, is wonderfully passionate about wine. His ability to connect with and assist customers navigate and understand the diverse wines he offers provides customers with an unforgettable shopping experience. glasses

The Wine Shoppe carries domestic and imported wines, along with wine related gifts that would show appreciation to the wine lover in your life. glassIf you are visiting Blairsville, be sure to stop by The Wine Shoppe, ask for Bill and he will be sure to help you find the perfect wine for your taste and budget! winesignature

11/21/16

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms with #OutOfTheWeeds Vinaigrettes!

I was lucky enough to connect with Robin, the creator of the scrumptious, all-natural artisanal Out of the Weeds dressings and marinades a few weeks ago on Facebook. I had heard of both her amazing creations and Three Birds Tavern restaurant in St. Pete, but had never met in person nor had I had the chance to sample her products.

After learning that she would be participating in upcoming Winn Dixie Hyde Park events, including sampling some of her dressings at the most recent event promoting Thanksgiving day deals and Curtis Stone’s visit, I was excited that this would finally be my chance to taste and chat with this local foodie celebrity! 

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I was able to sample all three of the dressings and must say that the Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette was by far my favorite. It was sweet yet tangy, making this the perfect product for topping salads (think caprese!), dipping veggies (or cocktail shrimp!) into, or marinating your favorite proteins in! My culinary wheels were spinning and I quickly purchased a bottle of it. 

As I was thinking about how to use my very first bottle of Out of the Weeds dressing, I kept going back to Thanksgiving and how I might be able to use the Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette with a recipe for our meal. 

And that’s when it hit me: Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms!unnamed-13

I LOVE stuffed mushrooms. They’re such a classic crowd-pleaser, especially for holiday gatherings. And these little gems did not disappoint! They’re stuffed with a mix of Out of the Weeds Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette, Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic and oat flour (yes, these babies are gluten free!). And because I cannot get enough of that delicious dressing, I decided to eat the stuffed mushrooms dipped in a little extra sauce, which put them over-the-top!

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Want the recipe? Here you go! And to purchase a bottle of your own Out of the Weeds Roasted Tomato dressing, click here!

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
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Ingredients
  1. 12 whole baby bella mushrooms
  2. 3/4 cup ground oat flour
  3. 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  5. 2 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
  6. 1 tbsp minced garlic
  7. 1 large egg, whisked
  8. 1/2 cup Out of the Weeds Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
  9. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese + 1tbsp extra for topping
  10. 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  11. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  12. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, saute sausage until cooked, breaking it apart in the skillet as it browns. Remove from heat and set aside. Let cool.
  3. In the same skillet, saute diced onions and garlic until just soft. Set aside and let cool.
  4. In a bowl, mix together sausage, onions, garlic, oat flour, roasted tomato dressing, parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper until just combined.
  5. Remove stems from mushrooms and wipe with a damp cloth to clean. Place mushroom caps into a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Stuff each mushroom with 1-2 tablespoons (depending on the size of the mushroom) of the sausage mixture and top with a sprinkle of extra Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake uncovered at 375 for 20 minutes. Top with chopped fresh parsley.
Orangespoken http://orangespoken.com/
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11/20/16

Friendsgiving brunch with my favorite chicas

As you know, I have a sweet love and appreciation for Thanksgiving- a time that is strictly about family and friends, traditions, togetherness, and of course, the star of the show… food.

On Thursday, a big group of my family and friends will be coming together share our Thanksgiving meal. But I wanted to carve out some time with my nearest and dearest girlfriends before the big day to share a meal, and give thanks for the deep friendships and bonds we have formed through the years. 15181257_10154803736137474_2165906126094205104_n

This year I decided to host a little “Thankful for my chicas” potluck brunch complete with good food, mimosas, time to catch up on each other’s lives and a little something special to take home at the end. 

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I typically will host an event potluck style. Not only does it make my life easier (after all, hosting can be a lot of work!), but I also get to try my friend’s recipes, which is alway fun since I have so many talented foodie friends! We had SO many wonderful things to eat at this gathering! From pasta salads, pastries and breakfast souffles, to a fresh fruit salad, grilled chicken and tiramisu- this was truly a friendsgiving feast! 

I made simple croissant tea sandwiches that turned out delicious! They were SO easy to make and can be the perfect addition to a pre or post Thanksgiving day brunch. The recipe can be found at the end of the post. 

I also created little snack bags to send each chica home with once brunch was over. mix

Each bag was filled with treats and goodies- each having their own special significance- and I attached the poem below to the back of each baggie. hipster-loft

Every day I thank my lucky stars for the amazing friends that I have in my life. I couldn’t ask for a better group of women to call my best friends, and I am so grateful to have crossed paths with each and every one!

Croissant Tea sandwiches
Serves 12
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 mini croissants
  2. 1/2lb thinly sliced smoked turkey
  3. 8oz Rodelle garlic and herb spreadable cheese
  4. 2 cups baby greens (I used Organic girl baby kale)
  5. 1 honeycrisp apple
  6. 1/2 cup apricot preserves
Instructions
  1. Thinly slice the apple and set aside.
  2. Using a serrated knife, slice each croissant open just enough to fill with ingredients, not all the way through.
  3. Spread both sides of the inside of the croissant with Rodelle cheese.
  4. Lay apple slice and 2 folded slices of turkey in the croissant.
  5. Top spread a small amount of apricot preserves on the turkey, and then top with a few fresh greens.
  6. Serve cool or at room temperature.
Orangespoken http://orangespoken.com/
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11/18/16

(#Giveaway) Thanksgiving with #WinnDixieHydePark!

Disclosure: As part of my relationship with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I have been compensated for this post, however, all (delicious) opinions are my own. 😉

When the temperature changes and the days grow shorter, my entire world becomes a little brighter. 
I. Love. Fall.

And although there is a special place in my heart for the winter holidays, I have a sweet love and appreciation for Thanksgiving- a time that is strictly about family and friends, traditions, togetherness, and of course, the star of the show… food.

My mom loved Thanksgiving and since her passing I have kept her traditions alive. I have wonderfully fond memories of my mom and I shopping for our Thanksgiving meal ingredients, and then staying up late into the wee hours of the night prepping and cooking for the big day. 

Each year I have carried on those traditions and keep her spirit in my pocket as a prep and cook her favorite turkey recipe, my grandmother’s tried and true dressing recipe, and a few sweet treats from my own recipe stash for our family. We typically do our Thanksgiving feasts “pot luck style”, but I always make sure I can make my mom’s turkey- even if it’s just a small one. <3

I’m super excited about completing my Thanksgiving shopping this year because I will be buying all of my ingredients from the newly remodeled Winn Dixie in Hyde Parkwinn-dixie-winndixiehydepark-1024x768

As you know from my previous post on Winn Dixie in Hyde Park, this store is AWESOME. It has so many features that make shopping a special and enjoyable time. Even if you *think* you don’t like grocery shopping, Winn Dixie in Hyde Park will change your mind. From their in-house coffee and gelato shop, to an impressive offering of gourmet items, craft beer and wine, and ready-to-go meals, this is no run-of-the-mill market! 

 Winn Dixie Hyde Park (and another location in Orlando for my central Florida friends,-look below for details!) has some amazing events and deals lined up for the days leading up to Thanksgiving! 
 
First up, one of my most FAVORITE celebrity and award-winning chefs, Chef Curtis Stone will visit the newly remodeled Hyde Park Winn-Dixie store this Saturday from noon-2pm! This store is located at:
2100 W. Swann Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606
 
Chef stone will be holding a book signing during that time and 10 lucky fans will have a chance to win a signed copy of his cookbook Good Food, Good Life!goodfood
 
Orlando friends: Great news! Chef Stone will also visit the Winn-Dixie store located at for another book signing from 1-3pm!
951 W State Road 434
Longwood, FL 32750 unnamed
 
In addition, Chef Curtis Stone’s Thanksgiving Feast is available for customers looking for delicious and convenient recipe options this Thanksgiving. The fresh ingredients and easy directions for his original Turkey with Sage-Brown Butter Gravy, delicious sides and dessert are available at BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie stores and on the website
 
This Saturday and Sunday only, Nov. 19-20, Winn-Dixie customers (including BI-LO and Harvey’s customers too!) can purchase any size Grade A frozen Honeysuckle White Turkey for only $6.00 with a qualified grocery purchase of $30 or more, while supplies last! This is an awesome deal as the average weight of a Thanksgiving turkey is 15 pounds, costing customers around 40 cents per pound. At only $6.00, customers will be able to buy a 24lb turkey for only 25 cents per pound!
 
And for even MORE money saving deals, check this out! Winn-Dixie believes cooking on a budget shouldn’t mean cutting corners on taste. That’s why we’ve also reduced costs on the following Thanksgiving essentials when purchased with a Winn Dixie rewards card (which you can get for FREE at the Winn Dixie customer service desk):
•Sweet potatoes – $0.49/lb.
•Collards, Kale, Mustard or Turnip Greens Bunches – 2 for $5
•8” Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Peach, Cherry or Pecan Pie from the bakery – $5 each
•Stove Top Stuffing (6 oz.) – $.99 each
•Land O Lakes Butter (16 oz.) – 2 for $6
•Winn-Dixie Brown & Serve Rolls (10 oz.) – 4 for $5
•Swanson Broth or Stock (32 oz.) – 3 for $7
 
BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE! 
I want to make YOUR Thanksgiving EVEN better by offering 1 lucky Orangespoken reader a $25 Gift Card to Winn Dixie
To win, comment on this post telling me what part of Thanksgiving you’re most excited about! If you live in Florida, I’m offering 3 EXTRA entries to this giveaway if you attend the Tampa or Orlando events this Saturday! If you’re in Tampa, come find me at the Hyde Park event, MENTION MY GIVEAWAY and I will add your name 3 extra times to the pot- increasing your chances of winning! If you’re in Orlando, take a pic from the event and TAG ME IN IT (on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram- @orangespoken) and I will add your name 3 extra times to the giveaway! A winner will be randomly drawn on Sunday Nov. 20! Good luck!!!!!!butterscotch-pie
 
Be sure to follow ALL of the fun this weekend at Winn Dixie by searching these hashtags on social media: #WinnDixieHydePark #WDThanksgivingFeast #CurtisStone!
Happy Shopping! signature
11/12/16

Traveling made easy with Pro Packing Cubes! #Giveaway

When I first got this new job I knew 50% of my time would be spent traveling. A good friend of mine told me to invest in a set of packing cubes to help make packing for these trips easier. Her wife travels quite a bit for work and swore by them. 

This conversation happened back in June. With the whirlwind of busy from the new position, I completely forgot about them- until just recently, when they popped into another conversation while waiting for an Orangetheory class with another friend. She asked me if I had visited any other OTF locations while on the road. I told her I hadn’t figured out how to efficiently pack 2-3 work outfits, a workout outfit, pajamas and underwear, and shoes (including my bulky Brooks running shoes) all in a carry-on sized luggage (my trips are usually just 2-3 days at a time so I typically don’t check a bag). 

Without hesistation, she too suggested packing cubes as the perfect solution!

Before I knew it, I was on Amazon researching the options I had for purchasing my own set so that I could solve my packing problem before my next trip. After reading a variety of reviews, I decided to purchase a 4 piece set from a company called Pro Packing Cubes! They are a small dedicated company with excellent customer service. In fact, after my purchase, the co-founder reached out to me via email to check on the status of my order and to collect feedback on the cubes! 

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From Amazon:

  • UNIQUE Ultra Light & Durable Rip-Stop Nylon
  • GREAT COLORS & Smooth lining
  • Zipper closure
  • THE ULTIMATE Packing Cubes set comes in a ‘go anywhere’ 6 piece value format, best for frequent travelers
  • Quickly organize your bag. Breeze through airport security. Multiple stops? Pack and unpack in a flash!
  • STRONG & LIGHT: Ultra lightweight rip-stop nylon with YKK Zippers & DURABLE reinforced seams – These cubes will go the distance. No broken zippers, snagged clothing or weak stitching. With a see through mesh Pro Packing Cubes will become your most valued and reliable travel buddy!
  • ORGANIZE and COMPRESS your clothes. Wondering which is the best way to pack a suitcase? Look no further! These packing squares enable you to fit more into your luggage AND arrive with wrinkle free clothes. Each cube enables you to sort clothes by outfit or garment type and can be used as a LAUNDRY BAG for your return leg. The slim cubes double up as shoe bags.
  • PERFECT FIT – Designed to fit perfectly into most airline carry-on suitcases, tote, weekender, backpacks and duffel bags. Great way to keep organized for FAMILY breaks, BUSINESS travel, BACKPACKING, CAMPING, HIKING, RV, CRUISE holidays & SADDLEBAGS. Use the smallest cube as toiletry bag & storage for device accessories. 3 sizes for unparalleled versatility: 1 Large, 3 Medium & 2 slim cubes in the set
  • BUILT TO LAST – backed by a manufacturer 100% LIFETIME GUARANTEE! 

My order was delivered while on a trip in Atlanta. I couldn’t wait to get home, do laundry and pack for my next trip to Miami using the packing cubes! I’m flying into Miami Sunday evening, and will be returning Tuesday evening. Here’s what I packed into my carryone luggage using Pro Packing Cubes:

  • 2 work outfits (2 trousers & 3 blouse options)
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 workout outfit (leggings, dri-fit shirt, sports bra)
  • 1 after work outfit (capris & a shirt)
  • 2 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of work shoes, 1 pair of running shoes
  • 2 pairs of pajama pants, 1 pajama shirt
  • toiletries

It took less than 10 minutes to get everything packed, organized and into my carry on bag! img_2646

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Everything fit perfectly, the bagged zipped easily, and I’m ready to board the plane tomorrow evening. Once I arrive at my hotel, unpacking will be a breeze, and I’ll be able to use the bags again as dirty clothes bags since they are extremely light and breathable.  

I also love how durable these cubes are. Although their lightweight, the fabric, zippers and mesh feel like they will last through quite a few trips into the future. 

Seriously- where have these been all of my life? 

I’m SO happy I purchased these cubes and would like YOU to experience the ease of packing as well! Pro Packing Cubes has offered to give away a 6pc set of packing cubes in silver/black to 1 lucky Orangespoken reader! 5140z9qon1ls

 

To enter, use the RaffleCopter below! There are LOTS of options to increase your chances of winning! Good luck! 

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11/2/16

Happy Birthday Mom!

When I think about my mother, what I remember most was her love of celebrating.

She would celebrate anything and everything. 
Life itself was a celebration.

Birthdays, promotions, anniversaries, daylight savings time. She’d find ANY reason to cook a meal, bake a cake and have people over. It’s just who she was. 10511352_10152651390667474_3098322061653697010_nWhat I remember most about all of those get togethers was how they made us feel. My mother always made sure everyone was well fed and having a good time. And if it was your birthday, you were sure to feel special.  Continue reading

10/20/16

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.  Continue reading

09/30/16

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.  Continue reading

09/25/16

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.  Continue reading