Tampa Theatre Dazzles at Christmas

When my sister and I attended a showing of Holiday Inn last year, the Tampa Theatre instantly became a new Christmas pastime.  This year, I enjoyed the new holiday tradition with my girls when we were invited to attend The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Since the 1920s, the magnificent Tampa Theatre has been entertaining and dazzling audiences for generations and my daughters were no exception.  With its gorgeous Mediterranean style décor, they felt like princesses strolling through a starry-lit castle.

The royal red carpet treatment continued when my princesses chose balcony seats.  They loved experiencing the sights and sounds of a movie from new heights.

Just like in its early days, an organist serenades the audience before the featured presentation.  For an extra special treat, Mrs. Claus made a guest appearance and shared stories with the audience.

To pay tribute to a golden era gone-by, the organist led the audience in a few sing-a-longs before the featured presentation.

Before the movie started, I slipped away to the concession stand for the usual cinema snacks of popcorn and soft drinks, but the Tampa Theatre also serves non-traditional libations such as beer and wine.  While at the concession stand, I spotted a vintage replica blown glass ornament of the famous flashing Tampa Theatre marquis.  Since the proceeds of the ornament benefit the restoration and maintenance of the theatre, I added an ornament to my popcorn and beer tab.

As for The Muppet Christmas Carol, I had never seen the film before, so it added an element of something new for all of us.  Although the sound had some technical difficulties (which is completely understandable for a theatre nearly a century old), we still enjoyed the movie.  Michael Caine made the perfect Scrooge and the Muppets delivered all the musical, silly, loving charm would expect from any Muppet movie.

My girls loved the movie, but the beauty and overall experience of the Tampa Theatre makes any movie even more magical.

Each December, the Theatre offers a Holiday Classics Movie Series on the big screen, with the opportunity to sing along to carols with the Mighty Wurlitzer organ before each show, in the unmatched elegance of the city’s historic movie palace. Tickets for the Holiday Classics Movie Series are $9 for adults and $7 for children, seniors, military and Tampa Theatre members at the box office, or online at TampaTheatre.org ($2 convenience fee applies).”

*My family and I received a tour of the Tampa Theatre and tickets to The Muppet Christmas Carol in exchange for my honest review.  My opinions and love for the Tampa Theatre are real and my own.*

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Tinsel and Lights and Happy Hanukkah

The other day I heard a Christmas song and the singer’s enchanting voice unhinged a memory.  I saw myself driving on a country hillside road on a long commute to work.  Almost as clear and haunting as the vision, her voice gave goose bumps similar to the ones that appeared when Allan and I first started dating and we would listen to Everything But The Girl’s Acoustic on long car rides while holding hands.

Tracey Thorn, the lead singer of Everything But the Girl, has released a Christmas album entitled Tinsel and Light.  The first song I heard off the album is the very same song that transported me to a time before parenthood.

I realize when artists go solo they despise being linked to their former band life, but Tracey Thorn’s Tinsel and Lights does just that.  The entire album reminds me everything I loved about Everything But The Girl but sprinkled with Christmas goodness.

You can listen and download entire the album on amazon.

While searching around YouTube and the internet for Tracey Thorn and Everything But Girl, I found this really fun interactive Tracey Thorn Advent Calendar full of videos, music, photos and Christmas cheer.

And on the subject of downloads, here are two you can’t pass up because both downloads benefit great causes.  Matisyahu released a new song for Hanukkah appropriately entitled Happy Hanukkah.  All proceeds go to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.  Download and donate here.

Then, download O Holy Night  performed by Ladywell Primary School from iTunes to help raise money for meningitis research in young Caden’s name.

For the next two Mondays leading up to Christmas, I will be sharing my favorite Christmas songs.  I would love for you to join in the merry music making by linking up and sharing your favorite holly jolly holiday tunes.



Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Tupper Feeling Deep in My Heart for Dixie

When I received an invitation to Dixie’s Tupperware Party, I dusted off my Amy Winehouse wig just for the occasion and if I had some real Tupperware, I would have brought that too.

Photo credit: Bradford Rogne

Dixie’s Tupperware Party is not your “grandmother Tupperware Party” (NBC Today Show).  Dixie has taken the Tupperware world by storm and transformed it into something reminiscent of a Passion Party.  Hold onto tight to that corkscrew and strap on in for a wild ride because Dixie will show you a side of Tupperware you have never experienced before, one “more fun than a gaggle of lesbians at a Home Depot sidewalk sale”.

Grab your girlfriends for the ultimate girl’s night out with your favorite southern belle hostess, Dixie Longate. 

Dixie Longate, the fast-talking Tupperware Lady, has packed up her catalogues, and left her children in an Alabama trailer park to journey across the country. Join Dixie as she throws a good ol’ fashioned Tupperware Party filled with outrageously funny tales, heartfelt accounts, FREE giveaways, audience participation and the most fabulous assortment of Tupperware ever sold on a theater stage. Loaded with the most up-to-date products available for purchase, see for yourself how Ms. Longate became the #1 Tupperware seller in the U.S. and Canada, as she educates her guests on the many alternative uses she has discovered for her plastic products! WARNING: recommended for mature audiences.

Complete with catalogues and order forms, guests welcomed into Dixie’s living room can find gifts for everyone on their Christmas list and the “Unchristmas, Chaka Khan Jewish holiday” too.  Much like Tupperware’s lifetime guarantee for its “great crap”, Dixie delivers a presentation full of laughs complete with one-liners and innuendoes that popup faster than a FlatOut!® bowl.

Raffi and her friend, Jennifer, were invited to sit on Dixie’s sofa.

The classics are still Tupperware’s top sellers, but Dixie offers her guests new ideas for the classic products.  I will never look at a Shape-O Toy® the same way.  Dixie also proudly declares Tupperware products to be BPA-free as well as provides helpful tips to keep those beautiful colorful plastic bowls stain-free.

After Dixie’s Tupperware Party, my blogger friends and I had the pleasure to meet Dixie in the lobby where she processed Tupperware orders, signed autographs and posed for photos.  Her loving, adorable presence glows on and off stage.

“Denise, I love you more than an Asian girl loves counting. xo Dixie Longate”

Dixie’s Tupperware Party premieres December 4 through December 9 in the Jaeb Theater at The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.  Tickets may be purchased by visiting strazcenter.org.

*I received tickets to Dixie Tupperware Party in exchange for my honest review.*
Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Music Monday: It Feels Like Christmas

Even before the calendar flipped to December, my family and I were already all sparklejollytwinklejingley for Christmas during Thanksgiving.  Thanks to the Straz Center, my family and I experienced the joy and magic of Christmas a little early with the help of our favorite elf and star of Elf The Musical, Buddy.

And speaking of elves, a funny little Elf on the Shelf found a home in our tree on the first day of December.

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I know what you’re thinking. I swore I would never buy one because I said these elves symbolize everything that is wrong with Christmas, not to mention how incredible creepy, clown-like, Chuckie-wannabe these elves are.   Therefore, this holiday I’ll be eating humble pie instead of Christmas pie which is best served cold because this little North Pole transplant likes the cold.  Don’t judge me because there will be more photos like these.

Giggles went for a joyride.

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The next he snapped some photos of the tree.

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On Friday evening, we visited Christmas Town more than once.  My family and I once again experienced the wonder of Christmas with the help of Busch Garden’s Christmas Town.  The wondrous icy sensation of Snow World melted our hearts, but the truly heart-stopping, good cheer happened for me at Cheetah Hunt.  Nothing beats humming and singing a happy Christmas tune just before you’re catapulted into the atmosphere at high speed.

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I’ve been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney to…..NIGHAAAAAAAAAA!  OH MY GOD!

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However, while stopping Snow World at Busch Garden’s Christmas Town, we witnessed a travesty.  As my girls and I waited patiently in line to play in the snow, we watched two pre-teen boys beat the living ice cubes out of Frosty the Snowman.  The bad boys ripped off Frosty’s broomstick arms and beat him repeatedly until his head broke off.  As Frosty’s poor decapitated head lay helplessly on the ground, his attackers ripped off his carrot nose and violently stabbed him in the neck with his own nose.

I couldn’t believe the horrible scene unfolding in front of us.  “For love of God!  Stop beating Frosty!  All he ever wanted to do was wish everyone a ‘Happy Birthday’.”  Then, my girls chimed in to shout at the cruel children.  “Leave Frosty alone!”

Good Lord.  I can never look at a snowman the same way.  It will take years to heal from this and just when I finally could look at clowns and dolls without cringing.  And while we’re compiling a list of creepy creature, add living statue angels to the list.

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Then, my girls and I enjoyed one more Christmas moment when we visited the Tampa Theater for The Muppet Christmas Carol.  I had never seen the movie before so the film was a first for all of us.  Michael Caine played the perfect Scrooge.

Stay tuned for more posts to follow about each of these wonderful Christmas events!

Does it feels like Christmas or does the thought of Christmas having you cringing?  Are you in the Christmas mood yet or are you a Scrooge? 

What Christmas music is moving you this season?



Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Random Thoughts about a Tossed Salad, Being a Local Celebrity and Un-Track Tuesday

FitFluential Is Fitness FoundThings are starting to get real exciting around here!  I’m officially a FitFluential Ambassador!  I am honored to join the ranks of some of the most inspirational and enthusiastic fitness bloggers.

Speaking of fitness blogger, last Saturday I joined a few other local bloggers for a commercial shoot for the Best Damn Race.  I loved hanging with Beth of Discom-BOB-ulated Running and Nicole of Healthy Girl Adventures.

We had one line, “I’m running to blog about it”, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t keep it straight.  I guess I was having too much fun being silly with Beth and Nicole.  Yep, I’m blaming them on my bloopers.  I have no idea when the Best Damn bloopers commercial airs, but when it does, I’ll share it with you all.

*Thanks to Nicole for the blooper photo!*

On Monday, I joined supermom Marisa of Fit Kids Playground for another edition of the Mom Squad.  This week, we talked ugly babies and turkey.

Joe wanted to know how we handle the Thanksgiving chores.  Since Iron Chef Allan handles most of the Thanksgiving cooking, there’s not much left for me do.  I believe I said, “I’ll toss the salad.”  Yep, that’s what I said.

My husband gasped when he watched the recorded segment.  “You didn’t just say that?  You know what that means, right?”  Once he explained the not-so-pleasant meaning behind “tossing the salad”, I burst out laughing.  Oh. My. GOD!  I can’t believe I said that on television!

Trust me I had no idea about the urban dictionary definition, but once I shared it as a Facebook status, my friends were happy to enlighten me.

I will never be able to look at salad the same way again.  And after that remark, I don’t think anyone will look at moms the same way again.  Well, it was nice being on the Mom Squad while it lasted.

After the segment, Ginger, the morning show anchor, asked if we had been spotted in the supermarket as local celebrities.  “Not yet”, I replied with a toss of my hair.  “But I’ve got my pen ready just in case.”

Although I suppose I’ll be signing bottles of salad dressing instead of supermarket receipts.

However, my dad was more concerned with my appearance rather than what I said.  “What was with your hair?”

“My hair looked like that because I ran to the studio, Dad.”  Whatever.

Last week was a light week for running, but not by choice.  My kids were home sick on Wednesday which meant no mid-week run with the school’s running club.  I was really sad to miss it because we had planned a race for the kids for the last session.

On Saturday, Larisa, Maribel and Chrissy and I ran 18, which was Maribel and Chrissy’s longest ever.  They did GREAT, though I didn’t do as well.  My heels had been bothering and I think my left knee over compensated for the pain because around mile 13 my knee buckled.  Not fun!  I had to slow way down and stretch more often.  I finished the miles, but I was really hurting. Lesson learned: A light running week is never a good idea on a big mile week.

18.1 miles
Time 3:23:23
Ave Pace 11:14
Max Pace 7:57

Between volunteering at the Women’s Half Marathon and the Mom Squad, I had two forced rest days.  Thank goodness!

Raffi and I volunteered at the Suncoast Running water station at the Women’s Half Marathon, however, more of the Suncoast Striders and Brian of Digital Running (Raffi’s hubby) joined us this year.

Rather than handing out water, I cheered, danced and rang a cowbell because I need more cowbell.  I loved calling out the ladies’ names and watching their face light up when they noticed me cheering for them.

Since I didn’t wear my glasses, I struggled reading everyone’s race bibs and I apologized for pronouncing a few names wrong.  “Go Joyce!  Er…I mean… Go Lois!”  But mispronounced names may have had more to do mimosas rather than my lack of specs.

Several of my running friends (Daffodil, Marie, Jen H, Marcia and Katrina) participated in the race this year and though I was supposed to be cheering for them, many of the ladies hollered to me as they ran past.  Katrina hollered and waved as she ran by.  Then, Jina of Behold the Turtle gave me shout out too and I ran a bit with her so I could snap a photo of her and her friends.

Since I was still nursing my heels, I skipped on Track Tuesday and ran an easy 4 miles.

4 miles
Time 39:47
Ave Pace 9:57
Max Pace 8:01

On Thursday, I plan to run a local Thanksgiving Day fun run with my friends.  How about you?  Will you be trotting for turkey on Thanksgiving morning?

I am excited to announce a new Track Tuesday co-host!  Meghan of runMeganrun will be joining me on the track for weekly speedwork.  The “rules” are still the same, so link up and play along with us.

To join our Track Tuesday linky party, do your speed work (at least 4 quarter mile sprints) on Tuesday or any day you that works best for you, blog about your times and remember to add our cool Track Tuesday button to your post.  Then, link up your post at either runMeganrun or Run DMT to share Track Tuesday Speed Work Sessions.  To show support for our other virtual running partners on the Track Tuesday Team, be sure to visit the other blogs listed in the linky party.  Give them a virtual high-five and leave some comment love too.



*Also linking up at*

Stacy

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Elf The Musical: Buddy Brings Tights and Tinsel Town to Tampa

I’m singing.

I’m in a theater watching Elf and I’m singing.

Every since the Straz Center provided tickets to Tampa Bay Bloggers, I’ve been all sparklejollytwinklejingley with excitement.

Matt Kopec (Buddy) and the cast of “Elf The Musical”. Photo by Joan Marcus

Elf The Musical is based on the Christmas classic Elf starring Will Ferrell.  Through high energy dance numbers and toe tapping tunes, Elf The Musical tells the tale of Buddy the elf, a human misplaced in the North Pole who travels to New York City to find his father while uncovering the true meaning of Christmas for others along the way.

Matt Kopec (Buddy) and Gordon Gray (Santa) in “Elf The Musical”. Photo by Joan Marcus

Elf The Musical shares many of the same comedic antics, one-liners and funny punch lines from the film, but many new funny moments will make your belly shake like a bowl of jelly.  Although some favorite moments from the movie appear in the musical (the revolving door) others didn’t make the cut, such as the famous snowball scene or the singing in the shower scene.

The overall warm cocoa feeling of Christmas and the colorful costumes set the stage beautifully for the start of the Christmas season.   Having visited New York City during the holiday season, the show captures that magic brilliantly.  Rollerblades replace ice skates on a mock rink in front of Rockfeller Center, but the merriment still feels genuine.

Since we’re already share an affinity for elf culture, my family and I loved the live performance.  After watching Santa’s sleigh soar through the final scene, we left the theater full of Christmas spirit and singing, of course.

We just watched Elf The Musical and we’re singing.

Elf The Musical is now playing in Tampa.  Visit strazcenter.org for show times and tickets.

For tour information, visit elfthemusicalontour.com.

*The Straz Center provided my family and me with tickets for Elf The Musical in exchange for my honest review of the show.  The opinions provided are my own.*

*Production photos of Elf The Musical provided by the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts .*

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Random Tuesday Thoughts about New Challenges, Sweating Purple and Track Tuesday

Stupid Halloween candy!   I was doing so well with the Unprocessed Challenge.  Somehow I survived most of the month avoiding candy corn and chocolate bars.  Then the stupid Halloween candy went on BOGO at my local supermarket and had two very large bags sitting my pantry.  Those fun size candy bars haunted me.

In a moment of weakness, I opened the bag and I ate a bar.  Then, I ate another.  And then, let’s just say I looked like Augustus Gloop falling into the chocolate river.  It wasn’t pretty.  Now, I only have one bag left of my BOGO deal which means I’ll need to buy more candy tonight, however, the new bag will remain sealed until tomorrow evening.  I swear.

Thankfully, that candy won’t be sitting around after Halloween because my kids and I will be participating in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program once again.  The day after Halloween, local dentists collect candy and pay kids for their candy per pound.  Some dentists give toothbrushes too.  The candy is then sent to troops overseas through Operation Gratitude.  Check the website to find a dentist near you participating in the program.  It’s such a wonderful way to give and it’s win-win situation for everyone: kids, the troops and it gets the candy out of my house!

Speaking of giving, my kids and I are participating in the 30-Day Giving Challenge for the fourth year.  Basically, every day in November, you have a task of giving a gift which can be something as simple as sending a card or elaborate as working in a soup kitchen.  If you need some ideas or inspiration, see the gifts we’ve given here and here.  This year, I made my own calendar 30 Day Giving Challenge calendar template.  Print it out and fill it gifts you’d like to give and join us in 30-Day Giving Challenge.

November is also Epilepsy Awareness Month and I found this really great virtual race via my SPA sisters.  On
November 1, you can register to Wear Purple Virtual 5K/Marathon to Cure Epilepsy but you have the entire month to accrue the miles.  The registration fee includes a custom medal engraved with the name of the person you run in support of and a seizure first aid wallet card. All proceeds after cost of medal will be donated to the Epilepsy Foundation.  I’ve registered for the marathon in honor of my niece, Meghan who has lived with epilepsy since infancy.

The first day of November will definitely be busy one around here.  Besides, accruing miles for a virtual epilepsy marathon, celebrating my oldest daughter’s 11th birthday and dropping off candy at the dentist, I’m also kicking off a new fitness challenge.  It’s been a while (a few months at least) since I hosted a fitness challenge and I need to do something to survive the holidays.

Starting November 1, I’m kicking the candy to the curb and focusing on the core this month with planks.  So, join me this Thursday as we kick off a fitness challenge called “Thanks for Planks!”  Stop by here on Thursday to learn all the details of the challenge.

And that’s about it.  Phew.  And I thought October was a busy month!

And now for the runs.  I ran 6 miles last Thursday then rested on Friday for the race The Living Dead Challenge the next day.  (Details tomorrow!)

6.2 miles
Time 1:01:02
Ave Pace 9:51
Max Pace 6:44

Since I ran in two races two days in a row (5K Saturday night/ half marathon Sunday morning), I rested Monday and I decided to skip the speedwork today.  I did run 4 miles though.

4 miles
Time 40:28
Ave Pace 10:07
Max Pace 7:56

What about you?  Did you speedwork today or did you skip on the sprints?  What challenges are you facing in the next coming month?



To join our Track Tuesday linky party, do your speed work (at least 4 quarter mile sprints) on Tuesday or any day you that works best for you, blog about your times and remember to add our cool Track Tuesday button to your post.  Then, link up your post at either Ricole Runs or Run DMT to share Track Tuesday Speed Work Sessions.  To show support for our other virtual running partners on the Track Tuesday Team, be sure to visit the other blogs listed in the linky party.  Give them a virtual high-five and leave some comment love too.

*Also linking up at*

Stacy

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+