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Archive for the tag “Florida”

Someone Told Me It’s All Happening At The Zoo…

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One of the best apps on my phone is Yelp. It is a great way to find new restaurants, a new mechanic or to let others know what you thought of an establishment. I have been on Yelp for a couple of years now, but this year I was inducted into the Yelp Elite. This is when you are a consistent reviewer and interact well with others on the site (giving compliments etc.).

On a regular basis, the folks at Yelp have gatherings where the Elite meet and greet and take part in some fun activities. My first gathering was this past weekend at Lowry Park Zoo here in Tampa, for their Brunch At The Zoo! 

A great crowd showed up!

A great crowd showed up!

I have to say, it was such a fun time! The Zoo catered the event with delicious food, from Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Empanadas to Macaroni and Cheese Balls

Delicious food prepared by the zoo caterers!

Delicious food prepared by the zoo caterers!

(I think I may have enjoyed the chocolate covered red velvet cake pops a little too much!)

Red Velvet Cake Pops and Bread Pudding

Red Velvet Cake Pops and Bread Pudding

But not only were were there for the food and the camaraderie, but the Zoo right now is potting on their DinoQuest 2.

Welcome!

Welcome!

It is an animatronic world of dinosaurs that let’s you get up close and personal with the prehistoric era.

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They move and spit water at you! It is a lot of fun… Once you come back to present time, there are lots of things for the little ones to do as well. From digging for fossils in a sandbox to looking at dinosaur bones up close, to sliding down the mouth of a huge inflatable DinoSlide!

Dinoslide!

Dinoslide!

Once we finished playing with the dinosaurs, my wife and I went on to investigate the rest of the zoo! I have to admit that it has been many years since I have been to the Lowry Park Zoo and they have done a remarkable job with this jewel in Tampa. There are so many animals to see, from the new baby elephant and baby hippo ( they were too fay away and my iPhone couldn’t take cute awwwwwinspiring pictures) to the Manatee Hospital that brings in injured and sick Manatees to rehabilitate them

Brunchtime for the Manatees as well! Are they Yelp Elite too?

Brunchtime for the Manatees as well! Are they Yelp Elite too?

There are giraffes…

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And penguins…

Hey guys, Is this Yelp Elite brunch formal?

Hey guys, Is this Yelp Elite brunch formal?

To Meerkats…

Anybody have any of those cake pops?

Anybody have any of those cake pops?

And so many more! Do yourself a favor and go over to the zoo today… The animals will love it if you do!

Thanks to Brett and everyone at Yelp and Lowry Park for making this a great day at the Zoo!

And remember.. as Simon and Garfunkel once sang…

January Foodie Pen Pals – Chocolate Edition

I am in heaven!

I am in heaven!

So in the months that I have done Foodie Pen Pals, I have received many wonderful items. I don’t mean to disparage them in any way, shape or form with this blog entry, but this time, I was blown away!

It all started on January 5th when I received my email from Mary. I don’t really remember what all she said in the email, because my brain was focused on one sentence…” I work in a Chocolate Shoppe!” Well, that was all I needed to hear. I told Mary that I had no allergies to chocolate. Chocolate was my friend, and I would leave it to her good judgement what to include in her package to me.

As you can see from above, it was a chocolate cornucopia, a bountifulness of cocoa… A horn of plenty if you will!

I started off with a taste of the cookies

The true meaning of O.M.G.!

The true meaning of O.M.G.!

These are actually Salted Caramel Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. And yes, they taste as good as they sound… I had to share some with my wife! (Yes, I can actually share!) The best part about these cookies is not only the taste, but the fact that Mary also included the recipe! If you would like it, leave a comment below!

She also included:

This ain't your mama's Hershey's!

This ain’t your mama’s Hershey’s!

The actual cocoa that she uses from a specialty spice company called Penzey’s Spices. Mary stated that this was the only cocoa that she uses in her baking. This was a nice addition as she knew that once I had tasted the cookies, I would want to make more… And I did!

Next were the truffles.

I can be a Packer's fan for four bites can't I?

I can be a Packer’s fan for four bites can’t I?

Being from the land of Green and Gold, Mary included a couple of delicious dark chocolate truffles. The coloring makes it look like little Packers Helmets!

A sample pack from Mary’s shop:

Say it in your best Cockney Accent!

Say it in your best Cockney Accent!

The name of her shop is Allo Chocolat! She develops and teaches classes there. As far as I am concerned, she has her Masters, PhD. and Jedi Master of chocolate making down.

Now one would think that with such a delicious package that this would be a perfect thing to share with others… I didn’t.. Now readers of this blog know that I a trying to lose some weight. These were perfect to put a single one in my lunchbox and have a delightful end to my lunch.

Mmmm...Hot chocolate!

Mmmm…Hot chocolate!

I have not tried this yet, but with cooler temperatures hitting the Gulf Coast of Florida, it will be soon! Mary says in her note that this is a favorite “after-dinner” beverage and that it has been compared to drinking a liquid truffle! Come to think of it, maybe I will try this right now!

Along with these delectable items, Mary also included a Charleston Chew since her shop sells vintage candy as well. With a moment or two in the freezer and a crack on the counter, this was a fine way to travel back to childhood.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, Mary included recipes to try… Everything from Turkish Hummus to Fox Point Chicken Bites.

 

As you can see, this Foodie Pen Pal package was one for the record books and one that all future boxes will be measured! A big thank you to Mary and the crew at Allo Chocolat! The next time I am in Waukesha, Wisconsin, I will be sure to stop in…

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FPP-post

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for November, please CLICK HERE (www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/) to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by February 4th as pairings will be emailed on February 5th!

*If you’re from Europe, please CLICK HERE (www.thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/) to signup.
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October Foodie Pen Pals

When I was a kid, I loved the thought of having a pen pal.  In the 2nd grade I had my first pen pal and remember how excited I was to send a letter to someone unknown and to receive a letter in return.  At the end of September, I heard about the Foodie Pen Pal program from my friend Nanci from ” This Crazy Life Of Mine.” She wrote about Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean.

I was SO excited to be a part of this Food Pen Pal group, both because I was able to put a box together for my pen pal but also because I would receive a box from a completely different person.  I had the pleasure of being connected with two amazing people, Sharon from Delicious Musings (who had me) and Megan (my foodie pen pal).

As it turns out, Sharon new of my affinity for “Down East” food and sent a package of goodies from New England!

The Maple Candy from Brown Family Farm was a big hit as anything made of pure sugar melts quickly in the Florida heat.

Next on the list was a jar of natural hone from Windy Hill Farm in Windham, Maine. I put honey in everything, so this is a delicious staple to my pantry

A jar of Maine Wild Blueberry Jam was also in the package from Maine Jams & Jellies Inc. At least I think there was, as it did not last very long!

And finally a delightful book called Sugar and Salt, Book One. It is a collection of recipes, crafts, thoughts and stories from author and chef Annie Mahle who owns and operates a floating restaurant and B&B on the Maine Schooner J. & E. Riggins.

Besides the blueberry jam, I cannot wait to dive into all of these wonderful items!

Thank-you so much Sharon!

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So, do you wanna join us?! Here’s the deal:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re interested in participating for November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by November 4th as pairings will be emailed on November 5th!

*If you’re from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send me an email and I’ll see if we get enough interest this month!

 

Checking Out The New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World!

I’m the one on the right!

 

Decided to load up the car with the wife and her sister and spend the day at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida to accomplish many things… We wanted to go to Hollywood Studios as we have yet to go on Toy Story Mania, and my Sister in Law had never been on Rockin’ Rollercaoster. We also wanted to go to Epcot and take part in the Food and Wine Festival, and we wanted to head to the Magic Kingdom to see all the holiday decorations for Halloween!

Our day was made however, when we saw that the new Fantasyland was partially open and they were letting guest do a walk through!

We walked up to the “Be Our Guest” restaurant, which will not be opening until the beginning of December. The castmembers told us about the new menu and that it will actually be open for lunch as a fast service place and then change to a full service restaurant for dinner!

We walked around and saw Gaston’s Tavern and who should be out front mugging for pictures, but the egotistical one himself! Going inside is a “roaring fireplace” and a huge picture of the namesake above! There was a drink that everyone was trying that included apple cider and a foam top. It reminded me of Harry Potter’s Butterbeer, but tasted a lot better!

As we walked on we were able to see  that Ariel’s Grotto was allowing people on the ride and we jumped in! The queue is long, but Disney has always known how to keep it moving. There are screens that have little blue crabs that you can interact with. For today’s purpose though, it actually slowed the line down, but in anticipation, we did not mind.

The ride was pure Disney. Clamshell cars on a track, winding through an undersea world with Ariel and her friends. It seemed short to us, but little ones will enjoy it just because it is Ariel!

I apologize in advance for the fuzziness of the pictures inside the ride, I was trying to abide by the no flash photography rule!

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All in all it was a great day and We all can’t wait til the full land opens up shortly (Not short enough for our liking!)

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Beginning My Positive Journey

Testing … 1…2…3 Is this thing on?

Greetings from the inside of my mind. My name is Josh Knauer, I live in Tampa, Florida and today is January 1st, 2011. A day that has always been associated with new beginnings, new starts, resolutions.

I am doing just that…. a new start to being more positive.

There are so many negative influences in our lives on a daily basis that I just wanted to step back from all that and take a look to see more of the positive aspects in not only my life but in others as well.

As you can probably tell, I am not an experienced writer, but it is just the fact of getting something down. Somewhere to start. I will get better as someone who picks up a guitar for the first time or a brain surgeon picking up a scalpel for his first surgery. Although I do hope there is not as much riding on the line with a blog post.

There are so many good things in our lives that they need to be showcased, celebrated and bought to light. Whether it is as small as waking up and realizing that you have fifteen more minutes of sleep until the alarm goes off or as major as finding out that your cancer is in remission, I write this blog not only for myself, but for you as well!

Thank you for staying positive.

 

 

 

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