Monster Jam is Coming to Camping World Stadium

It still blows my mind that I am over-the-moon excited about Feld Entertainment‘s announcement that Monster Jam® is coming to town! Me. Girly girl. Vintage clothes-wearing, theater-going, high-tea-loving me… loves to sit in the stands and whelp it up when those monster trucks roll in. But whelp it up, I do.monster-jam

Monster Jam®, the most adrenaline-charged motorsports experience for families on the planet, will be performing at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, January 21, 2017 and tickets are now on sale. Monster Jam events are affordably priced for the whole family with seats starting at $15.

The event will feature more than 12 trucks and drivers vying to be the Orlando champion, including: Grave Digger driven by Dennis Anderson; Son-uva Digger driven by Ryan Anderson; Team Hot Wheels driven by Scott Buetow; Monster Energy driven by Coty Saucier; Jester driven by Matt Pagliarulo; Xtermigator driven by JR McNeal; Rage driven by Cory Rummel; Barbarian driven by Devin Jones; plus OVER Bored, Bounty Hunter, Knucklehead, Madusa and Wrecking Crew. (Trucks/drivers subject to change without notice.)

Approximately 12 feet tall and about 12 feet wide, Monster Jam trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, Monster Jam trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Monster Jam trucks can fly up to125 to 130 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) and up to 35 feet in the air.

The Party in the Pits on Saturday, January 21, from 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM gives fans the opportunity to get up close and personal to the Monster Jam trucks and drivers. It’s one of our family’s favorite parts, as guests can get up close and personal with their favorite drivers and see just HOW huge these things are!

Pit Passes are available for $10.00 at the Amway Center Box office in advance, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Same day event ticket and pit pass required for entry to pit party.

Tickets to Monster Jam are now on sale at www.ticketmaster.com. All seats reserved. Subject to facility fee, plus convenience and handling charges. Camping World Stadium is located at 1610 W. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805.

For more information on a Monster Jam, please log onto www.MonsterJam.com (click on “Tickets” and search for Orlando) or follow us via our social channels below:

In case you’re wondering who we’re rooting for this season, we’re especially hoping Chad soldier-fortune-with-danielFortune of Soldier Fortune and Soldier Fortune Black Ops do well.  We appreciate how their trucks pay tribute to the men and women who serve in our armed forces (though neither will be in Orlando). Two of our favorites that will be at the Camping World Stadium: Team Hot Wheels driven by Scott Bueto (What 9-year-old doesn’t cheer for Hot Wheels?!) and Madusa!

If you’ve never given this giant-tired, loud-noise-generating, cheer-inducing event a try, make this the year you buy tickets. It’s tons (and I mean that literally) of family fun!

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LBVFS Anniversary Celebration

20thIt’s time to celebrate! Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores is hosting a free admission, family-oriented celebration to mark its 20th anniversary as one of Central Florida’s first outlet centers and a favorite destination for the area’s best outlet deals. Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores’ Deals for Two Decades 20th Anniversary Celebration is on Saturday, October 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with fun activities for every age. Join the celebration featuring more than $8,000 in prize and gift card giveaways at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 2:30pm (must be present to win), bounce house, DJ entertainer, strolling magician, face painters, balloon sculptor, stilt walker juggler, 20 cent hot dogs, drinks and more. Many stores are pulling out the stops with $20 gift card giveaways, 20% off deals and special store activities. Have your picture taken with Sunnie, the Sunshine Foundation’s mascot. All proceeds go toward the Sunshine Foundation, the original wish-granting organization, a charity founded in 1976 bringing unimaginable joy to children living with chronic life-long conditions.

Rafflecopter logo linkJust over a week later, the center will host a frightfully fun and safe “trick or treating” event on Halloween, Monday, October 31, from 1-9 p.m. Participating stores will pass out treats to the children while families can shop. Prices are so low, it’s scary! Everyone is invited to join in the fun and children are welcome to dress in costume.

Shopping is hassle-free at the outlet center, where you can find factory-direct premium quality merchandise at savings up to 75% off (and sometimes more). Plus, there’s easy store front parking, so getting in and out quickly is a breeze!

Here’s your chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the mall, where you can select merchandise at most of their outlet shops and get great deals at Express Factory Outlet, U.S. Polo Assn., Nike, OshKosh B’Gosh, Tommy Hilfiger Stores, plus other well-known outlets including G by GUESS, Justice, Carter’s, Crocs, Calvin Klein, Levi’s®, Aeropostale, Converse, Fossil, Rack Room Shoes, and many more. Don’t forget to stop by and treat yourself at Lindt Chocolate, too!

Click the Rafflecopter icon above and follow the prompts to enter. (One entry is to comment on the post here. Tell me what YOUR favorite shops are!)

Even if you don’t win, you can get in on the savings by downloading a coupon from the Center’s website, then bringing it to Travelpro at the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores to receive a coupon booklet valued up to $400 in savings. Savvy discount shoppers can learn about these discounts, as well as specific stores and their hours by following the center on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as visiting http://www.lbvfs.com. Many stores offer last-minute deals so it’s a great idea to follow the center and check online frequently! Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores is located just one mile from Walt Disney World at 15657 State Road 535 (Vineland) Orlando, FL 32821-6316, and two miles south of I-4, Exit 68. Hours are 10am-9pm on Monday-Saturday, and 10am-7pm on Sunday.

Happy fall shopping!

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Follow Your Heart

16205_event_image_545x325-c407183f29Once upon a time, Disney created a magical spectacle on ice with talented dancers, beautiful costumes, stirring music that instantly transforms kids of all ages to happy moments shared with beloved characters. The first weekend in September, Disney On Ice brings all that to life and more to Orlando in Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart. My family and I are excited to attend—especially ME! As a Feld Entertainment Ambassador, I received complimentary tickets to attend the show with my family in exchange for writing about the show.

Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart is bringing Disney•Pixar’s record-breaking animated feature Finding Dory to the ice for the first time in this live production produced by Feld Entertainment. The ice skating extravaganza featuring Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out, Disney’s Frozen and other beloved Disney stories visits Orlando from September 2-4, 2016 for six performances at Amway Center.  Tickets are on sale now.

Tickets for Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart start from $18 and have “Market pricing” which applies to all tickets. Rates fluctuate based on supply and demand. Lock in your price and seat location today!

Show Times:  Friday, September 2, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 3, 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, September 4, 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. All seats are reserved. Tickets are available at www.DisneyOnIce.com  or www.ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone for information only: 407-440-7900). For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.

What is Follow Your Heart all about and which Disney favorites will be featured? The show will have guests:follow heart dory

  • swim with Dory, Nemo, Marlin and new pal Hank from Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory as they “just keep swimming” on a life-changing excursion to find her parents and discover the true meaning of family.
  • cheer with the Emotions from Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out –Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust– as they help Riley find the confidence to win the hockey championship and experience the emotional rollercoaster of growing up.elsa and olaf
  • venture to the wintery world of Arendelle where Olaf and Kristoff help reunite royal sisters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen and learn love is the most powerful magic of all. See Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana and the Disney Princesses make their dreams come true through their virtues of bravery, kindness and perseverance.
  • celebrate true friendship with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and The Toy Story gang.
  • make unforgettable memories with Mickey, Minnie and all of our Disney friends!

Want to buy tickets at a discount OR win 4 tickets to attend?

You can save 20% off select seats with code SAVE20.

*Not valid on premium VIP seating.
*Hurry for the best available seats! Code expires September 1, 2016.

You can win 4 tickets easily by clicking this Rafflecopter link and following the prompts. Contest ends at midnight August 19, 2016.

Rafflecopter logo link

Follow along on social media:

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIce
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce #FollowYourHeart
YouTube: www.youtube.com/DisneyOnIce
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

Whether you’re a raffle winner or not, we’re all winners who get to see Disney on Ice Presents: Follow Your Heart. I can’t wait to be at the Amway Center enjoying one of the best family shows around. Feld Entertainment knows how to bring magic to audiences everywhere through not only Disney on Ice, but much, much more.

Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.

Taste of The Nation 2016 Takes A Bite Out of Childood Hunger

tasteChefs provide delicious, nourishing food to their guests, so it’s only fitting that chefs would join forces for an event that helps fight the nation’s childhood hunger epidemic.  August 27, 2016 they will be out in force at Orlando’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry.

Leading up to the event, Orlando’s Taste of the Nation introduces the Golden Ticket Giveaway, offering an exciting new way to win a pair of complimentary tickets to this year’s event. Guests who dine at select, participating establishments can golden ticket winnerask their server for a Golden Ticket to receive a concealed envelope that may contain a pair of tickets to this year’s event. Chances of winning are 1 in 10. Follow hashtags #OrlTaste and #GoldenTicket for a list of participating restaurants and updates on remaining Golden Tickets. The Golden Ticket Giveaway runs through Aug. 22.

At Taste of the Nation, forty-two of Central Florida’s most distinguished chefs will showcase tasting portions of signature dishes, accompanied by fine wines, craft beers and specialty cocktails at the Orlando World Center Marriott to ensure children struggling with hunger in our city and across America are connected to the meals they need.

New to this year’s event are nine of the area’s most popular and exciting restaurants including:taste 2

Benihana, Canvas Lake Nona, Eleven and Forte at Reunion Resort, Hemisphere Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, Nova Scratch Kitchen, The Osprey Tavern, Restaurant ASH, and The Rusty Spoon.

Several popular brewers, wine purveyors and spirit vendors have also been tapped for this year’s event, including Brew Bus USA, Cigar City Brewing, Crooked Can Brewery, Orlando Brewery, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, Lakeridge Winery, Nestle Waters | S. Pell & Acqua Panna, Onli Beverage Co. taste 4

In its 27th year, Orlando’s Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry is the region’s longest-running and most trend-forward food and beverage event raising funds and awareness for children’s nutrition programs provided by national beneficiary Share Our Strength, regional beneficiary Florida Impact, and local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

In addition to appetizing food, fine wines, craft beers and premium spirits, guests also enjoy a fully automated mobile silent auction featuring signed memorabilia, stays at upscale hotels, dining experiences, rounds of golf on area courses, and exotic adventures and getaways.

The Giving Tree raffle, sponsored by Edible Orlando, returns for the second year inviting guests to win a taste of Orlando’s most popular establishments. For a $50 donation, guests can select a Giving Tree envelope hanging from a towering tree containing a gift certificate ranging from $25 to $300 in value.

Taste of Nation 1The event’s ever-popular Instant Wine Cellar game offers participants a chance to win more than 150 bottles of wine valued at more than $2,500. There are only 250 chances to win this exquisite wine cellar. Each key is a $25 donation.

Guests can also win fine bottles of wine with the all-new Ring Toss for Wine fundraiser. Rings are available for purchase to toss onto wine bottles ─ $5 for two tosses or $10 for six tosses. When a ring lands around a bottle neck, the guest wins a bottle of wine to take home.

Orlando’s Taste of the Nation is presented nationally by Citi and Sysco and sponsored by OpenTable, San Pell/Acqua Panna and media sponsor Food Network. Special thanks to local sponsors Darden Restaurants, Regions Bank, Harris Rosen Foundation, Noble Marketing, Disney, FreshPoint, Hilton Grand Vacations, Bright House, Darden Federal Credit Union, Ernst & Young, Patriot National, Rosen Hotels & Resorts and Universal Orlando Resort.

Summer Fest Continues at Gaylord Palms Resort

Last month our family had the pleasure of being hosted for a night at Gaylord Palms Resort as part of the #GPSummerFest (we stayed another night as “regular” folk, as we wanted to make a weekend of it). We’re frequent visitors whether there’s a media event or not, so it’s no surprise we had a great time. The surprising part is that we got to play with pirates and princesses, and I got to be a mermaid! (No, really! Keep reading!)

skull crossbones braceletIf you’ve read my blog at all, you know how much I love a good theme, and Summer Fest has swashbuckling style from stem to stern! From Princess Priscilla’s Coronation Character Breakfast to Y’aaard Games, there’s something from sun up to sundown to enjoy.

Character Breakfast**

Princess Priscilla’s Coronation Character Breakfast is the ultimate matey’s morning meal. Held not-too-MOOR breakfastcoincidentally at MOOR, Gaylord Palms’ very own ship in a bottle (a restaurant that’s a ship in the atrium), this character breakfast is like “walking theater.” We met Captain Blackheart and his daughter, Princess Priscilla, who is to be the new ruler of the Pirate Kingdom. Along with their friend, Jonny Stranger their cabin boy, the pirates make their way to each table, granting guests their own pirate names, should they wish to join the crew. (I’m “Kill ‘Em All Kelly.” EEK!)

 

Some of my favorite items on the buffet include Steak and Eggs (NY strip, scrambled eggs, and salsa verde), and Shrimp and Grits that is made OH so good with andouille sausage and brown butter. (Yes. I ate more than one serving!) Also on deck are Treasure Chest Potatoes and Princess Toast (which is French toast with sprinkles).

Gluten Free Friends: There are items on the buffet that
can be made GF, no problem. Just ask your server.

There are assorted baked breads, fruits, cereal, oatmeal, granola, pastries, danishes (you MUST try the blueberry muffins!), and Creativity Stations where you can Build Your Own Waffle or decorate your dessert.

Be prepared to learn the Pirate Oath, or you may have to walk the plank. It’s much more fun, though, to walk to the next activity, or march.

Pirate Parade and Yaaard Games!

Pirate Parade and Yaaard Games!

Pirate Invasion Parade*

Thursday through Sunday at 5:00pm, march through the atrium in all your pirate finery. (What?! Don’t YOU have pirate attire?) Follow the flag and discover pieces from the Captain’s treasure hoard from Blackheart’s Treasure Hunt* along the route. Catch (by spying, that is) the gators along 15 juvenile alligators and 30 species of native turtles in a habitat reminiscent of Florida’s natural springs.***

Pirate Stories & Chanties Under the Stars**

Climb upon the Siren’s Song and listen to the tall tales of the seven seas. Join Princess Priscilla as she embarks upon the perils and smorespleasures of becoming the first female Pirate captain. This high energy show involves theatrics, chanties and s’mores under the stars. Times are Thursday through Saturday at 6:00pm, 6:45pm, 7:30pm. In case of inclement weather, the tales are taken indoors to the atrium fort. Shiver me timbers, it’s fun either way.

Did You Know: A chantey is a song sung by sailors,
usually while they did hard physical work.

AAArts and Crafts** are always fun, and kids can make their own sword or princess tiara Times: Thursday-Sunday 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Kids enjoy getting crafty, and they can bring their creations along for the next parade!

Merfolk Academy**

Here’s where things get “fishy.” If you’ve ever dreamed of swapping your feet for a fabulous mermaid shotfin and swimming beneath the sea, your dreams can (sort of) come true. At Merfolk Academy, guests of all ages can wear swimmable mermaid/merman tails and participate in an hour-long class and swimming experience. Shark fins are available, too.

My son and I took part in the experience: He wore the shark fin, while I got to be a mermaid! I thought Merfolk Academy was just for kids, but was happy to learn that I, too, could check off my bucket list item of playing Madison (the mermaid from Splash). Darryl Hannah, I’m not. But it was lots of fun pretending!

If you find yourself singing Under The Sea and would like to do this yourself or would like to give your kid(s) an underwater experience they’ll remember, call 844-308-5056 for reservations. Don’t forget your underwater camera.

  • Times: Select times on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays
  • Price: $30.00 for one-hour mermaid class | $20.00 for one-hour shark class
  • Location: Cypress Springs Family Waterpark

Gaylord Palms is a resort that’s great for a summer vacation, staycation, or corporate event (they have ample convention space!). Check out the Orlando resort, or their other locations. Summer Fest is happening through August 21, 2016. You can read more about the events here. Make reservations by calling 407-586-0000 or clicking this link.

If we have some free time this next month, I know I can yell “All hands on deck” and my crew will follow me back to the land of pirates, princesses… and mermaids.

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Events with a * are free while ** items are an added cost.

***Thanks Gatorland. They’re awesome!

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Ride MAKO for Give Kids The World Village

mako for gktwThrill-ride fans itching to board SeaWorld Orlando’s spectacular new Mako roller coaster can skip the lines and be among the first to experience the most anticipated attraction in Central Florida this year, by participating in a special seat auction to benefit Give Kids The World Village.

SeaWorld Orlando and Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) are holding a seat auction that will allow winners to be among the first to ride the Mako coaster on June 8, before the Grand Opening celebration on June 10. It’s a chance to experience the “tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando” and to be part of “hypercoaster” history!

Auction proceeds will help GKTW fulfill the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses whose wish is to visit Orlando’s world-famous theme parks and other attractions.

The seat auction will be available on this link from now until June 3. Riders may pick their preferred seat during the bidding process depending on their desired thrill level: a middle seat in the middle car, or a side-seat in the back.

w Brian Morrow

Brian and I did not take a test ride, but he will take YOU! Please give generously to Give Kids The World Village.

There’s even an exclusive, one-of- a-kind experience – offered at a minimum bid of $2,000 – that will award the winner two seats in the front row, riding with Brian Morrow, Vice President of Theme Park Experience for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Give Kids The World Village President and CEO Pamela Landwirth. In addition, the premium package winner will be awarded a two-night’s stay at a hotel near the theme park and lunch with Morrow, among other perks.

Mako you could be hereThere are 80 additional seats available for auction, offered at a minimum bid of $250 or $500 depending on the train and seat(s) chosen. Winners will receive their selected seat(s), a Mako T-shirt, free parking and admission to SeaWorld Orlando for the remainder of the day.

About Give Kids The World Village
Give Kids The World Village is a 79-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort, located near Central Florida’s most beloved attractions, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.

Celebrating its 30 th anniversary in 2016, GKTW has welcomed more than 144,000 families from all 50 states and 70 countries. Working with more than 240 wish granting organizations, this one-of- a-kind resort is the destination for a child’s wish to visit Florida’s world famous theme parks.

The “storybook” Village has 144 whimsical accommodations and is made for children, featuring a castle, accessible playgrounds, pools and rides, as well as all theme park tickets, meals and entertainment free to all members of the family.

About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld rescue team
has helped more than 27,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of globally recognized brands including SeaWorld® , Shamu® and Busch Gardens®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of- a-kind zoological collection of over 800 species of animals. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

Viva La Musica at SeaWorld

red dancer w dominoesOn Saturday, May 7, musician, composer, singer and trombonist, Willie Colón will perform some of his all-time hits at SeaWorld, Orlando. Then on Saturday, May 14, Latin music legend Wisin will hit the stage and perform some of his record-breaking hits such as “Adrenalina” and “Que Viva la Vida.”

If you’ve not been to Viva La Musica, SeaWorld’s festival of Latin food, music and culture, you’ve been missing out! In addition to the hot Latin sounds, there’s the food. Chef Hector Colon and his staff have outdone themselves this year with new flavors including:blue dancers

o   Piononos – Sweet plantain stuffed with traditional seasoned ground beef

o   Morcilla – Traditional Latin American blood sausage

o   Sorullitos – Caribbean-style fried polenta sticks

chef Gonzales

Chef Colon serves up Tripletas at SeaWorld Orlando’s Viva la Musica

o   Frituras de camarones – Skewered shrimp fritters with fried plantains

o   Lechón asado – Traditional roasted pork rubbed with Caribbean spices

I especially loved the Piononos. The contrast of sweet plaintains with the beef was exciting and delicious. I wasn’t expecting the flavors to meld so well, but then again I don’t make many Latin dishes. (Methinks I need to try now!)

Favorites from years past include piraguas (shaved ice with tropical flavors), bacalaítos (fried salted codfish pancakes), pinchos (skewered grilled meat with fried plantains) and tripletas, a hearty sandwich made with roast pork, chicken, steak and cheese topped with potato sticks and a special sauce. Tripletas are new to me, too. And delish! I think SeaWorld should have a Latin restaurant in the park to serve up some of these creations

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Three meats for the Tripletas.

year-round. I hate having to eat it ALL in one month-long setting, LOL.

You’ll also find Chef’s signature creations around the park. New this year at Mango Joe’s is the Hamburguesa Cubana, a hamburger made with a chorizo, ground beef and pork patty. Plus, guests who visit Seafire Grill, Cypress Bakery and Mango Joe’s will find an array of Latin infused limited-time dishes.

The absolute best item (if you ask me) is the skirt steak with chimichuri sauce (called Churrasco on the menu). Chef Hector Colon let me in on his secret recipe (sort of). Where traditional chimichuri has parsley, the Latin version he’s created substitutes half of the parsley with cilantro. He adds a touch of jalapeno, oregano, red pepper, salt and lots of garlic to the olive oil and apple cider vinegar base. I’ll be creating a copy cat version of this in the near. Stay tuned!

chimichurriWhere can you get this deliciousness? Check your Viva La Musica event guide and look for “Churrasco,” found under section F – Cocia Criolla. This is the long kiosk in the middle of the pathway that serves the full meals. You won’t be disappointed!

Viva la Música activities begin at 12 p.m. each Saturday at the Bayside pathway, with concerts starting at 3 p.m. at Bayside Stadium.

chef Gonzales and Kelly selfie

Daniel’s “Two Too Good” Chili Recipe

Happy Birthday Daniel

Happy Birthday Daniel

This day, 9 years ago…

It was a Tuesday just like today. Chilly out, too. Then, just like now, I shed some tears making dinner, and it wasn’t from chopping the onions.

Because I was on bed rest during my pregnancy, my making the chili I’d been dreaming of all day was not going to happen (by my hands anyway). Thankfully my obliging husband brought in a chair for me to sit in, with an ottoman on which to prop up my feet. The only way this dinner was going to be completed was with me resting, while he did as I directed. (He opened restaurants around the world for 15 years, so I was confident in his abilities!)

chiliEarlier that day he’d stopped by the store to get all the ingredients, so everything would be fresh. While I sat there feeling totally useless, tears welling up in my eyes (I blame the hormones for the emotions that overshadowed the fact that I was growing a human!), my husband chopped and mixed and stirred. The SMELL of that chili cooking started to make me smile, and on this particular night when I still had a touch over 5 weeks to go, it smelled especially heavenly. I let the joy of the meal prep, even by proxy, lift me from the funk of just “laying there.”

Usually we make the chili on one day and serve it the next, or at the very least cook it in the  morning so it can simmer all day long. On this night, though, everyone in the family was impatient so we pressed on.

Two Too Good Chili is my favorite chili ever. Yes, I’ve had some amazing chili from restaurants, at cook-offs, at friends’ houses, etc. But this is my favorite. It took a lot of testing to get it “just right.” I originally named it “Two Too” good because of the two meets, two peppers, two of a LOT of the ingredients. After that evening, though, it would be renamed (in our house, anyway) Daniel’s chili.

We had finished eating our favorite bowl of cold-night goodness and I moved to the living room to watch an Orlando Magic game on T.V I cheered as best I could from my recliner. Then, with the win in the bag and full and very happy belly, I retired to my room where I started to read. It was so quiet and peaceful. And then…

The next few hours saw a flurry of activity at our house. I thought I’d have time to wash my hospital clothes and my son’s homecoming attire, but the contractions that started 18 minutes apart quickly escalated to 2. The best laid plans….

Long story short: at 3:55 a.m. our precious son was born, spent chili bowls still in the sink as we didn’t have time to tend to that as well as getting my about-to-pop-self to the hospital.

I type this as I remember that late night/early morning. I smell Daniel’s Chili simmering on the stove. I ‘m scrolling through all the photos of that wonderful night, too. I can’t believe it’s been 9 years.

On this chilly week, I hope you’ll think of happy miracles in your life too, and enjoy his Too, Two Good Chili. Maybe you’ll cry as you make it, too…  and it won’t be the onions.

Two Too Good Chili, a.k.a. “Daniel’s Chili”

Ingredients:

1 lb coarsely ground chuck
1 pound coarsely ground pork*
2 large white onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peppers: One red, one green, cut to onion and meat½-in dice
2 c beef stock
2 28-oz can plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed, with juices
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos**
¼ cup chili powder more or less, depending on your family’s heat tolerance
2 TBS brown sugar
2 tsp cumin
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can kidney beans beans, rinsed and drained

*Sometimes I braise beef ribs and use the meat for a second meat texture, if not a different meat itself.
**Remove the seeds if you want less heat

Toppings:

Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Oyster crackers

Directions:

  1. In large pot, cook meats 8 to 10 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 more minutes.
  2. Add peppers, stock, tomatoes w/juices, paste, and spices to the meat mixture. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally, 30 minutes at least; all day if you  have time.
  3. Ten minutes before serving, add beans and cook to warm through. Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream and cheese.
Why yes I was snapping pics WHILE giving birth (though this one was just after).

Why yes I was snapping pics WHILE giving birth (though this one was just after).

 

Antiques Vintage and Garden Show February 19–21

antiques showCouncil of 101 is presents the 34th annual Antiques Vintage and Garden Show at the Orlando Museum of Art, from Friday, February 19 through Sunday, February 21, 2016.
The Antiques Vintage and Garden Show will feature a dazzling array of collectibles, original art, fine jewelry, silver, porcelains, ceramics, textiles, florals, and furniture, as well as a wide variety of unique home and garden décor. Some of the nation’s most reputable dealers will be on-hand to showcase sought-after merchandise and share expert tips and knowledge.
In my 1940s gown with my own Antique and Garden collection: A glass basket and white hydrangeas

In my 1940s gown with my own Antique and Garden collection: A glass basket and white hydrangeas

I’m looking forward to the event because I am a vintage kind of gal. My wedding was 1940s style, crocheted snood and all. I scoured antique stores all over to find the right pieces for my step-back-in time tablescapes. Era-appropriate magazines were in various niches along with WWII memorabilia. I feel very “rooted” when admiring and holding things of the past. I find there’s something romantic about holding a wine glass from a by-gone era, knowing your lips are, in fact, kissing the past as you drink. My dress, likewise, was from the ’40s and is the most luxurious vintage textile piece I own (though I have a large retro apron collection that is pretty fabulous, too).

I guess my love of all things vintage is one of the reasons I am currently watching both Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge. When I go to an vintage store or roam the halls of an antique mall, it’s something very special to me. I hold an item and wonder who’s story it’s telling. What secrets did those opera glasses unfold? Whose hand slipped into that ring? Fellow romantics will find much to do and see at the Antiques Vintage and Garden Show.

antique memorabilia weddingEvent speakers and vendors will guide guests in perfecting their individual style and flair from fashion to furnishings. Seasoned purveyors of antiquities and curious appreciators of style and beauty alike will leave with increased knowledge and perhaps some new additions to beautify their own home.

General admission tickets to the Antiques Vintage and Garden Show are $10.
Special Events
This year’s guest speaker is India Hicks, a world-renowned author, model, entrepreneur, TV personality and daughter of famed designer David Hicks. Hicks comes from both British and design royalty. As the goddaughter of the Prince of Wales, Hicks served as a bridesmaid at his wedding to Lady Diana.
India Hicks

India Hicks

Hicks will speak at 11:00am on Friday, February 19, and will sign her books Island Style and Island Life. Tickets for this engagement are $45, and include admission to the Antiques Vintage and Garden Show. There will also be a unique opportunity to experience shopping and refreshments with Hicks that same day. For $125 per person, this VIP event also includes prime seating for Hicks’ presentation.

Opening Night Preview PartyThursday, February 186:30pm to 10:00pm – $95 per person includes complimentary valet parking and show admission for a sneak peek preview

What’s it Worth? Appraisal Days – From 1:00pm to 3:00pm each day, visitors can have their own items appraised by an expert. For anyone who’s ever pondered the true value of a family heirloom, this is the opportunity to find out. Reservations are required and are taken starting at noon each day. There is a two item appraisal limit and the cost is $10 per item.

Mystery Home Tour – Saturday, February 20 – 11:00am to 3:00pm – Inspiration seekers can tour a home that is bound to awaken their creative minds. $35 per person includes show admission.

antique wedding cake topoperTickets are available by calling 407-896-4231, Ext. 254 or by visiting http://omart.org/events/antiques_vintage_and_garden_show/.

Admission to the Antiques Vintage and Garden Show includes general admission to Orlando Museum of Art exhibits. During the show, the museum will feature the Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment special exhibition.

The Antiques Vintage and Garden Show is a longstanding fundraiser event benefiting the Orlando Museum of Art and promoting the museum’s mission to advance the positive impact of art and creativity. Council of 101 has aided in raising over $6 million to support the Orlando Museum of Art.

SWEET Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlet Giveaway

Win a $50 gift card to Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores

Reebok shoppersHere in Central Florida we didn’t “really” get much of a winter, so it may seem strange to start talking about spring, but it IS about that time, which means Valentine’s Day is on the horizon AND… we need to all start planning our wardrobes, shoes, and accessories accordingly!

Just in time for a wardrobe update (or for new luggage, or something for the house, or a gift for Valentine’s Day!), I’m happy to be partnering with Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores for a $50 giveaway!

Whenever I’m in the area I stop by because it’s hassle-free and I can find factory-direct premium quality merchandise at savings up to 75% off (and sometimes more). Plus, there’s easy store front parking, so getting in and out quickly is a breeze!
The parking thing is a BIG issue for me. I appreciate the way I can get “in and out” quickly.

Maybe you’re not wanting a new outfit or two, but have gift giving in mind. There’s lots of options for moms, dads and grads in May, too. I find @LBVFS to be an ideal place to shop for all my springtime needs, from leather handbags and strappy sandals to workout gear, swimwear and that perfect, all-occasion dress. I also have great luck finding “unmentionables,” lol. VF Factory Outlet carries loads of beautiful (and practical) bras and panties… just sayin’!

LBVFS Logo.jpeg (1)Here’s your chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the mall, where you can select merchandise from designer and name-brand outlet stores, including Express and eSunWear Swimwear Outlet, the newly-expanded Ann Tailor LOFT (yay, I’m so glad they’ve finished the project), plus other well-known outlets including U.S. Polo Assn., Nike, OshKosh B’Gosh, Tommy Hilfiger Stores, G by GUESS, Justice, Carter’s, Crocs, Calvin Klein, Levi’s®, Aeropostale, Converse, Famous Footwear Outlet, Fossil, Rack Room Shoes, and many more. Several stores sell approved uniform merchandise. (NOTE: Gap and Old Navy outlets do not accept gift certificates). If all that shopping makes you hungry, stop by and treat yourself at Lindt Chocolate, while you’re there!

Rafflecopter logo linkEnter NOW

Click on the Rafflecopter icon and follow the prompts. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! This is a short-run contest that ends at midnight, February 6. Good luck!

 Even if you don’t win, you can get in on the savings by downloading a coupon from the Center’s website, then bringing it to Travelpro at the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores to receive a coupon booklet valued up to $400 in savings. Savvy discount shoppers can learn about these discounts, as well as specific stores and their hours by following the center on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as visiting www.lbvfs.com. Many stores offer last-minute deals so it’s a great idea to follow the center and check online frequently! Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores is located just one mile from Walt Disney World at 15657 S Apopka Vineland Road (State Road 535) Orlando, FL 32821-6316, two miles south of I-4, Exit 68. Open daily. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10am-9pm, and 10am-7pm on Sunday.

Disclosure: I received a $50 gift card in exchange for this post and my
honest input. I’m not disclosing how much I’ve spent there when I didn’t
have a gift card. ‘Cause it’s more than I’d care to… disclose.