Clearwater Beach Uncorked 2015

This weekend I was super thrilled to be able to send my one and only cousin Amy and her best friend to the Fourth Annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked Food & Wine Adventure. My friend Kelly attended last year for me and had an amazing time, and this year was no different. I hope next year it lands on a weekend with no hockey games so I can attend! It looks like it just keeps getting more and more amazing every year!


We were lucky to be invited to attend the Clearwater Beach Uncorked Food and Wine Adventure located at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. As we arrived we were greeted by so many delicious smells of a wide variety of cuisines as well as wine and craft beer vendors as far as the eye could see! We spent three hours visiting each and every vendor sampling wine, mimosas, cheese, craft beers, seafood, watching cooking demonstrations and collecting tons of amazing swag!


The event was sold out but was not too crowded. The day was perfect so I was not surprised to see so many people there. Seemed like everyone was so happy and so nice. But then, who wouldnt be with amazing treats like this at your fingertips.


Being a lover of sweet white wines, my favorite variety was served by Myx Fusions Moscato. I tasted both the Moscato & Passion fruit and the Moscato & coconut. Both were delicious, but the coconut was my personal favorite! Another goodie was Chateau Ste Michelle’s Riesling and the Blueberry Moscato by the Island Grove Wine Company.


For food, the best thing we had hands down was the mahi mahi tacos from Crabby Bills. They contained blackened mahi mahi, shredded cabbage, mango salsa, and a spectacular creamy cilantro sauce. These tacos were so good that I ate two! Second best food item was the Shrimp Bruschetta with balsamic glaze from Oystercatchers restaurant.


We were given bags and quickly began filling them with loot! Some of our goodies we got to bring home include Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle (which if you have not tried you need to ASAP!), Nutella samples which made me ecstatic, Party-tizers Veggie Dippin’ Chips, Rondele Peppercorn Parmesan Cheese spread, Planters salted caramel peanuts, Mama Francesca Premium Cheeses (I scored the parmesan, basil, and oregano blend!), Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners (which I am already a HUGE fan of!), and an awesome cookbook from Fresh from Florida, signed by the one and only Justin Timineri.


This event was so much fun! There’s nothing better than a day with PERFECT weather, spending time with a great friend, and sampling all the food and wine you can imagine! I am counting down the days until next year’s event!

Be sure to check out Clearwater Beach Uncorked on Facebook and Twitter so you will know when next years event will be! You will want to get your tickets early so you do not miss it!


Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke Virginia

Last year I took some really amazing trips. I went to Los Angeles for the DVD release of Frozen, I went on my very first cruise for Brandcation, I got to go drive BMWs on a wet track in San Antonio – and that was just in the first quarter of the year! But I ended 2014 with one final amazing trip to Pembroke Virginia where I stayed at the Mountain Lake Lodge, a 2,600 acre nature preserve in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains… and where Dirty Dancing was filmed.


I flew in to Roanoke Virginia where I was picked up by one of my best bloggy buddies Mickey from We headed off in to the mountains – literally – with the GPS even looking lost. However the moment the trees cleared – we immediately recognized Kellerman’s.


When we pulled up to the registration desk… it began snowing. SNOWING. That is like the third time in my life that I have even seen snow. But I immediately fell in love with the place -“OMG that is where Baby talked with her Dad!” and “OMG that is where Johnny jumps off and punches Robby!” “OMG THAT IS THE CABIN WHERE BABY AND HER FAMILY STAYED!!”

Yes, I was that completely obnoxious tourist. mountain lake lodge virginia

We checked in to the beautiful cozy lodge – literally feeling like we had stepped back in time. The place was absolutely gorgeous. Even though it was snowing outside, it was warm and welcoming inside. We checked in and asked where the elevator was… which was met with a laugh. There is no elevator. I wish I had a picture of Mickey standing there trying to comprehend that with her enormous suitcase, miscellaneous bags, and over stuffed pillow. However we managed to get up the stairs and to our room to get settled in before heading downstairs for dinner at the Harvest Restaurant where everything is served family buffet style… and unlike most hotel buffets – amazing.


Interestingly enough in the last few years the lake has actually dried up, leaving a literal mud puddle. However, that enormous mud puddle is still breathtaking, and home to all kinds of wildlife, which Mickey and I saw as we walked around the grounds – freezing to death while recounting just about every single word and scene from the movie. History shows that the lake as risen and declined many times over the years, and geologists and engineers monitor the lake daily, and believe it will some day refill to the former glory it had back in 1987 when it made the perfect backdrop to one of the best films of all time. I can only hope that it is in my lifetime, and I can go back and take my family there.

mountain lake

Now, the Mixed Conference was incredible too – but the location is what will forever stand out in my mind as one of the best trips ever. If you are looking to go on vacation – or to have a great meeting location – Mountain Lake Lodge should be on the top of your list. The history, the culture, and the accommodations will be hard to beat anywhere else.

You can book your reservations here and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Disclosure: Absolutely no compensation was received for this post. Just sharing what I love – with who I love.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked 2015

Last year I was invited to go to Clearwater Beach Uncorked – the annual food and wine festival on beautiful Clearwater Beach, Florida. My friend Kelly was able to go in my place since I had a speaking event, and had an absolutely amazing time! You can read all about her experience here. This year my cousin Amy and her hubby will be going in my place and joining hundreds of others to partake in the festivities. They are stoked! The festival is two days of food, wine, dancing, cooking, wine, laughing, food, mingling, swag… did I mention there will be wine? 

clearwater beach uncorked 2015

Clearwater Beach Uncorked is delighted to announce its 4th annual wine and food beachfront spectacular to be held on February 7th and 8th, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., beneath the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and SpaClearwater Beach Uncorked, described as the finest beachfront culinary event on Florida’s west coast, is brought together by sponsors: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa and Publix. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will bid the ultimate pre-Valentine’s Day beach getaway complete with delicious tastings from the area’s most renowned restaurants, along with savory wines, craft beers, and micro-brews from over 100 different wineries. Guests of the event will have the privilege of mingling at this exquisite paparazzi filled event, while sipping away on the most satisfying array of spirits sure to satisfy anyone’s cravings.

This year’s sponsors include: Publix, Duncan Hines, Florida Department of Citrus, Hefty, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Planters, and Reynolds. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership which is one of the fastest growing colleges in Florida.

Check out Clearwater Beach Uncorked to get your tickets to the hottest event of the season!


An Afternoon at Bayview Park #OurLand

Growing up, I spent a ton of time outdoors. From the beach to the parks to my own back yard – I was part of the “outside” generation for sure. When I was given the opportunity to team up with MomDot Media and The Trust for Public Land to help spread the word about the new #OurLand campaign which is helping to protect public land like the places I grew up, I knew Bayview Park was the perfect place to go to talk about how important parks are to me. Bayview was such a huge part of my childhood – from watching my parents play tennis on the courts to learning how to drive in the parking lot, to sharing a first kiss down on the little pier. But I realize now how lucky I was to have a huge park like Bayview to make all of those amazing memories. In many cities, one in three residents lacks access to a park or natural area, and with America’s open spaces disappearing at a rate of 6,000 acres a day, we’re at risk of losing our most cherished outdoor escapes.

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The Trust for Public Land ( is an organization whose mission it is to create and protect parks and other natural places, right in your own backyard. “The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. We protect the places people care about and create close-to-home parks—particularly in and near cities, where 80% of Americans live.” You can do your part to support public land by submitting your own virtual postcard on the TPL website, telling why the outdoors are important to you. Just upload a picture or video of your favorite outdoor space on their website and share what makes that place special.

It is hard to narrow down just one reason why Bayview Park is so special to me. It has long been the meeting place for me and so many of my friends and loved ones, and carries both happy memories and bittersweet memories from growing up. Just driving down there made me think of my friend Jason who passed away just a few years ago way too soon. Jason and I spent countless afternoons there just talking and overlooking the bayou. I can not even look out over the water without thinking of him and missing him like crazy.

bayview cross

Bayview was a place for first dates – and a place for break ups. It was a place to stop for pictures on the way to Prom, or a place to end the night when you just weren’t quite ready to go home. Bayview is where we always went to watch the fireworks on both New Years and Fourth of July, and a place to go to just sit and clear your head. It was a place for great festivals and a place for memorials. A place to play and a place to worship. Whether you spent the entire day or just an hour, Bayview Park was a little piece of paradise.

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Bayview Park was packed with people enjoying this beautiful day with us. Even though it was overcast, the temperatures were in the 70s with a light breeze coming off the water. Every where you looked you saw families enjoying time outdoors. There was a large family reunion going on under one picnic table – with a group of young men playing soccer while the women watched and cheered. Another picnic table was celebrating a young girls birthday decked out with Mickey Mouse decorations. At another table a photographer was photographing some parents to-be, the couple cradling the Moms growing belly. The water was full of boats and jetskis, kayaks and even a group of competitive rowers practicing. The piers were full of fisherman of all ages while the beaches were full of dogs playing in the water – chasing and retrieving sticks their owners threw. It was clear that Bayview is an important place for many of us.

bayview park #ourland

Midge and I grabbed lunch on our way and found a nice little grassy spot to enjoy our lunch overlooking the water. It has been years since I have had a picnic, and this reminded me of just how fun it can be. We laughed and talked and watched squirrels run around the tops of the trees over our heads. When we finished eating, we headed off to explore. Bayview Park is 30 acres of beauty with everything from a dog park to covered picnic tables, tennis courts, walking trails, fishing piers, and more.

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bayview picnic

The playground is awesome – with two huge jungle gyms, a full swing set and more. Midge had no problem making friends with just about everyone there. Even my Dad stopped by to enjoy some time at Bayview. It was great to spend some alone time just the three of us… well, along with a zillion other people.

bayview park playground

There are signs posted around the park as well telling about all of the plants and wildlife that live there. It was fun to try to find the different species from the signs. It turned in to a scavenger hunt for both of us. I am pretty certain we found everything except the Great Blue Heron. Midge insisted that we go back again soon to try and find him – which I will be happy to oblige.

midge 2014

This is probably my favorite part of Bayview Park. It is so quiet and peaceful on the pier. Midge and I both got lost for a few moments just soaking in the beauty of the water. The seagulls and pelicans sit lazily on the pier and in the water, often breaking into a cackle that makes you wonder what they are laughing at. Occasionally a boat or jetski will whiz by – the driver always giving a polite wave.

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bayview park pensacola #OurLand

I can not imagine ever not having Bayview Park to go to, so I was honored to join in this campaign and share one of my all time favorite places with you. I hope you will join in this campaign with the Trust for Public Land and help to protect areas like Bayview and upload a picture of your favorite place and why it is important to you. I did.

Trust for Public Land #OurLand


*This post is part of a sponsored campaign through MomDot Media. All images and ideas are 100% my own.

Universal Orlando CityWalk

What do you get when you put some of the best restaurants next to the best night clubs connected to the best theme park? You get Universal Orlando’s CityWalk – THE place to go for amazing Nightlife at Universal Orlando.

Universal CityWalk

Every day that I was in Orlando for the FacingFearsTogether trip I spent some time at CityWalk – whether it was to grab a bite to eat, do some shopping for the girls, or have a couple several lot of cocktails. Though CityWalk is family friendly by day – sporting a cool putt putt golf arena and movie theater – at night it goes to the adults with live bands, killer night clubs and great restaurants. Our first night there Mickey and I dined at Margaritaville where you absolutely must try the friend cheese curds dipped in ranch dressing. Yes, I totally abandoned Whole30 for this little indulgence – and it was amazing. We then went to Pat O’Briens and watched the dueling pianos for a while. And you know – to sample the cocktails… just to make sure they were safe for everyone… we are thoughtful like that.

pat obriens citywalk

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