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9.29.2015

Travel Tuesday: What to Do for a Weekend in St. Pete

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko) at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida

This spring I had to spend a few days in St. Petersburg, Florida for a business trip.  While some business trips leave little time for non-work-related exploits, I was fortunate enough to enjoy some fun free time to explore a little piece of St. Pete.  I was there mid-week, but this same advice can apply to a quick weekend there as well. 

Hotel
Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront (333 1st St S, St Petersburg, FL 33701) – I love Hiltons, and try to stay at a Hilton family hotel when not in a boutique hotel.  The Hilton in St. Pete was great, as per usual Hilton hotel standards.  The location was also great, being a block away from the Dali Museum, and an easy walk to all the restaurants on Beach Drive.  For in-house dining, I recommend the cobb salad at the hotel restaurant (Tangerine) which was one of the better cobb salads I have had. 


The view from my window at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront.  I loved the cute lamp and the bay view.


Restaurants
Apparently, the place to eat in St. Pete when staying near the bay is Beach Drive.  I didn’t have a lot of time there, so only tried one restaurant, but there appeared to be several good options.

Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant (10 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, FL) – The lover of Spanish food that I am had to try the local tapas bar.  Our group sampled many, many tapas, and they were all good.  Not as good or exotic as the tapas and pinxtos in Spain, but really tasty, albeit mainstream.  Another fun thing about Ceviche is that they have live music, including live flamenco shows, several times a week.

What to Do
Dali Museum (1 Dali Blvd, St Petersburg, FL 33701) – I was so happy to have found a free hour on my last day to visit the Dali Museum.  The museum contains the largest collection of original Dali art outside of Spain.  It was very impressive, and even included several of his giant pieces (like The Hallucinogenic Toreador and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus).  The museum contained art from several periods of Dali’s life, from his early View of Cadaques with Shadow of Mount Pani to even the more modern First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper`s Brain.  My favorites were Daddy Longlegs of the Evening - Hope! and L'Arc Hysterique (The Hysterical Arch).  Since I had such a short time there, they recommended I do the free self-guided audio tour, which did indeed add to the experience.

I loved this sign!  Too funny.

L'Arc Hysterique (The Hysterical Arch)

Daddy Longlegs of the Evening - Hope!

Spring Training Game
Much to my husband’s jealousy, I got to attend a Spring Training baseball game while I was there.  A few teams in the “Grapefruit League” (Yankees, Phillies) play in the St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay area (Tampa is easily accessible from St. Pete).  This was a really fun experience, and one I’d recommend if you have the chance.


Donning some new Yankees gear.  My dad would be proud!

Though my time in the area was brief, it was nice to be able to see some of the local sights.  Unfortunately no time for beach or water sports, but that would certainly be fun for the non-business traveler to try as well.

9.22.2015

Family Theatre Date Night: Winnie the Pooh on Stage at ZACH Theatre


Need an idea for a family date night?  Try going to a play!  We had the great opportunity to see the stage production of Winnie the Pooh at ZACH Theatre in Austin last Friday.  It was not only a great, enjoyable performance for the adults, but it was also an unforgettably fun experience for the kiddos.


When we arrived at the theatre we were surprised (but excited!) to find a petting zoo.  The kids had the best time playing with baby chicks, goats, ducklings, piglets, and bunnies before we went inside.


There were some interactive decorations inside the theatre.  As you can see, my little goofballs had fun posing as Pooh.

The kid-friendly experiences continued - the programs included activity pages for the kids.  This was perfect for keeping their attention after taking our seats and waiting for the show to begin. 

I will be honest and say that I was a little nervous about their ability to sit respectfully and quietly during the performance.  Grayson had been to the theatre before (his first show was Rent at the Hollywood Bowl), but he was so young.  Once the show started, I realized we had nothing to worry about.  The kids were immediately engaged by the cast, who invited audience interactivity from the start.  The entire play saw the kids laughing out loud, responding to the cast, or with mouths agape from the "magic" of it all.  Grayson even whispered to me "I love this play so much" before the first act was even complete.  Then during intermission he was eager to get back to his seat for fear that he might miss the second act!  le Clanche du Rand's adaptation kept the whimsy of the original A.A. Milne story while adding modern elements that could easily engage young kids of today.

Will Cleveland as Winnie the Pooh and J. Quinton Johnson as Christopher Robin

The acting was impressive, and required the actors to maintain high energy the whole time.  The kids responded really well to each character.  Grayson's favorite was Pooh (played by Will Cleveland) with his head-stuck-in-the-honey-pot antics and the "oh, bothers."  My husband and I were equally as impressed with J. Quinton Johnson's Rabbit and Christopher Robin; he not only acted well, but was an impressive singer and dancer.

Sara Burke as Piglet and Russel Taylor as Eeyore

The heart and personality of the show were Sara Burke's sweet and silly piglet, and Russel Taylor's hilarious Eeyore. 

The show was short enough to not keep the kids up too late, and also maintain their attention until the end.  Every kid in the audience loved it, and we saw some big smiles spread across the adults' faces too.

G greeting actors Russel Taylor and Will Cleveland after the show
What a fun way to spend an evening with the family!  Winnie the Pooh is playing at ZACH through December 12th as part of their Theatre for Families series, so don't miss your chance to see it before it closes!  We may go again per Grayson's request.  Watching this kid's face during the show, and hearing the way he talked about everything for days afterwards, I am pretty sure this experience ignited a life-long love of theatre and the arts.  Get out and see a show with your family, and ignite that spark yourself!

9.15.2015

Sapporo Chili Recipe for Your Next Tailgate



Disclaimer: I received a sample of Sapporo beer to test this recipe for review purposes.  The opinions are completely my own.  I was not financially compensated for this post.

Fall means two things in my house: 1) fall fashion, and 2) college football.  A third would be Pumpkin Spice Lattes if Starbucks ever decided to make a Skinny version.  Anyway, being in Austin, and being that my husband is a Longhorn fanatic, we tailgate at every UT home game.  I make my famous meatballs for every tailgate, but since this last weekend was the first home game of the year, I wanted to make something new to bring.  Sapporo reached out to me to tell me about some new recipes for football season using Sapporo beer.  As Texans love chili, I decided to try Sapporo Chili (recipe below).

The chili was a hit!  It was easy to make, and perfect for a tailgate.  One of our friends even said, and I quote, that it was "slap your mama good." 


After browning some ground turkey, you pretty much just dump all the ingredients and seasonings (including half a bottle of Sapporo Premium beer) into a crockpot.  Then you just let the crockpot do it's thang. 


I decided to top it with some shredded jack cheese and green onions when it was done.


Naturally, it paired really well with some ice cold Sapporo beer!


Happy early-bird tailgaters getting their chili on before the crowd arrived!


No sooner did the crowd arrive at our tailgate that the crockpot looked like this!  They really cleaned that few pounds of chili out.  This is definitely a recipe keeper.  Here's the recipe so you can give it a try yourself:

Sapporo Chili
Recipe By SAPPORO


Ingredients
Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of a large sauté pan)
¼ cup of Minced Garlic
1 lb of ground turkey 85/15 (or other ground meat of your choosing. You can also combo other meats also like pulled chicken, ground beef, ground pork, etc.)
1/8 cup of granulated garlic
1/8 cup of granulated onion
1/8 cup of paprika
1/8 cup of ground cumin
A pinch of Italian seasoning
A pinch of ground coriander
A pinch of smoked sea salt
A pinch of ground pepper
2 16 oz cans of organic vegetarian chili (if you cannot find organic canned veggie chili, a nonorganic one is fine also.
1 16 oz can of cannellini beans (rinse and drain)
½ of a 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 6oz can of tomato paste
½ cup of homemade or jarred tomato sauce of your choosing
¼ cup of BBQ sauce (homemade or brand of your choosing)
¼ cup of Heinz ketchup
½ of a 12 oz bottle/ or ½ of a 16 oz can of Sapporo Premium


Instructions
  1. Cover bottom of large sauté pan with olive oil and add minced garlic
  2. Season ground meat with a pinches of granulated garlic, onion and chili powder and salt and pepper 
  3. Brown ground meat in large pan with heat turned up about half way so to not burn meat and spice mixture
  4. Once meat is browned, transfer to slow cooker
  5. Add canned chili or soaked beans, rest of all spices, sauces, pastes, beer and stir in crock pot to blend all ingredients together
  6. Set cooker to low and timer to 8 hours. After 8 hours, cooker will switch to warm if you are not serving right away
  7. Make sure to stir every hour or so, so chili doesn’t stick and tomato based products don’t burn
  8. Feel free to top with chopped up cooked bacon, fried onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions or anything you like
  9. Serve with tortilla chips and an ice cold Sapporo!