Category Archives: Tampa Bay Love

Photo from The Bodyguard Musical Facebook Page

The Bodyguard Musical – A Review


Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center I received two complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to The Bodyguard. This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Company in The Bodyguard

Let me start by saying – I had no idea there even WAS a musical called The Bodyguard until it came here to Tampa Bay. I don’t have cable, and have intentionally not been watching the news, so I’ve been quite out of the loop in terms of many things related to entertainment. However, I had never seen the movie, but I LOVE musicals, so I jumped at the chance to see the production.

Funnily enough, my husband insisted I watch the movie before the play. So, I watched it last night. I’m actually kind of glad I did because it prepared me for some of the things that would have otherwise shocked me.

You see, after a family tragedy that happened December 2016, I’m hyper-sensitive these days to gun violence. Therefore, knowing what to expect going in, helped me to focus on the joyful elements of the show. My husband is a brilliant man, and knew this all to well about me, so I’m extra grateful he had me watch the movie first.

And, if I’m honest, I really loved the movie. It made me that much more excited to see the musical too. Might seem weird since it gave away much of the plot, but it’s true! (p.s. some of the plot IS different in the stage production vs. the movie)

The Bodyguard – What Straz Said About it (spoilers ahead)

Based on the smash hit film, the award-winning musical will star Grammy® Award nominee and R&B superstar Deborah Cox!

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

A breathtakingly romantic thriller, THE BODYGUARD features a host of irresistible classics including “Queen of the Night,” “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run to You,” “I Have Nothing,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – “I Will Always Love You.”


The Bodyguard – My Review

I have to say that out of all the musicals I’ve been to, this one was CRAZY good. In fact, dare I say it might have been one of the best ones I’ve EVER seen. Then again, it felt more like I was seeing a concert than attending a musical in the “traditional” sense- whatever that means.

Let’s put it this way – I’ve always wanted to attend a Whitney Houston concert, and after watching this production tonight – I now feel like I have. You know, only with added drama and story to it. Haha!

From the opening act to the closing number I was either on edge of my seat, tapping my toes, or I was up on my feet. I also totally sang along to my favorite songs – as did much of the audience .. which I loved by the way. Made for a fun and interactive experience.

Photo from The Bodyguard via Straz Center
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Jasmin Richardson as Nicki Marron in The Bodyguard

And, I have to say this about Miss Deborah Cox  – she was absolutely spectacular in this role! The way that she could command the stage, and belt out those vocals was like nothing I’ve ever seen in a live act before. I actually closed my eyes for a moment,  and almost believed I was sitting in a Whitney Houston concert!

The notes that Whitney could hit are clearly not easy to hit, but Mrs. Cox did it with such grace and ease that you can tell she knows her craft, and she owns her craft. Watching her sing and perform took my breath away, and gave me all the goosebumps multiple times.

Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer in The Bodyguard via Straz
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer in The Bodyguard

To put it mildly – I would absolutely recommend to anybody who is considering seeing this musical that they buy a ticket right now.

From the costumes to actors, the songs to the choreography, even the lines the actors were supposed to say – every single bit of this musical was top-notch. It was just ahhhhhhhmazing. If given the chance, I would see it again over and over and over again!

The Bodyguard is playing at The Straz Center now through March 25, 2018.  Regularly priced tickets are $40-$123. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!

Heads up if you’re going: Deborah Cox is not scheduled to perform at the Sunday Evening performance. And, The Bodyguard contains some adult language, mature situations and brief simulated gun shots and violence.

For just a glimpse into WHY this show was so amazing, check out this interview Mrs. Cox did with Wendy Williams where she expresses just how much she wanted it to be done right:

Also… just in case you are as curious as I was…

Here’s the cast of The Bodyguard US Tour from the official website:

  • Deborah Cox – Rachel Marron
  • Judson Mills – Frank Farmer
  • Alex Corrado – Tony Scibelli
  • Charles Gray – Bill Devaney
  • Jonathan Hadley – Sy Spector
  • Kevelin B. Jones III – Fletcher
  • Sebastian Maynard-Palmer – Fletcher
  • Jorge Paniagua – The Stalker
  • Jasmin Richardson – Nicki Marron
  • Mark McCullough – Thomas Ray Court
  • Elyssa Jo Brown – Swing
  • Henry Byalikov – Ensemble
  • Willie Dee – Swing
  • Megan Elyse Fulmer – Ensemble
  • Devinn Harris – Ensemble
  • Alex Jackson – Swing
  • Megan Melville – Ensemble
  • DeQuina Moore – Ensemble
  • Kevin Mylrea – Ensemble
  • Stefan Raulston – Ensemble
  • Matthew Schmidt – Ensemble
  • Amber Snow – Ensemble
  • Lauren Tanner  – Swing
  • Naomi C. Walley  – Ensemble

Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival Concert Lineup 2018

Have you heard? Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is coming back to Tampa Bay Saturdays and Sundays, March 3 through April 29 and is included with any Annual Pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park.

And, if the free with admission news isn’t enough to get you excited about attending,  each evening of the festival features a concert from some of the hottest names in the music industry.

Busch Gardens 2018 Food & Wine Festival Concert Lineup

Concert Headliners Include The Fray, Flo Rida, Cole Swindell, Boyz II Men, Olga Tañón, TLC, Hank Williams Jr., Kaleo and More!

More info about the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival:

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay‘s most delicious event returns this March with tastes for every palate at the fourth annual Food & Wine Festival.

Guests can sample delectable cuisines paired with a selection of 65+ wines, 50+ craft brews and specialty cocktails, while enjoying some of the biggest names in entertainment.

The Food & Wine Festival runs Saturdays and Sundays, March 3 through April 29 and is included with any Annual Pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park.

The Festival features all-new twists on cuisine at 13 culinary cabins, along with favorites like mango shrimp ceviche and beef brisket on a spiced corn waffle.

Experience bold new eats at the Savory Tavern with fried frog legs with bacon corn fritters, or indulge in flavorful treats at Artisan Eats with beloved dish duck fat truffle fries and then spice it up with tostones rellenos de pollo at Comfort Kitchen.

Opt for lobster tart with leeks and Swiss cheese or mushroom vol-au-vent at the Light Fare Canteen, or relish in the robust flavors at Chef’s Plantation with salmon cake with lemon aioli, Korean-style ribs and all-new short rib and brie grilled cheese.

Guests can elevate the Food and Wine Festival experience even more by sipping a carefully curated selection of fine bourbons and new tequila tastings.

Concert headliners include:

Saturday, March 3: Edwin McCain & Sister Hazel
Sunday, March 4: Grupo Niche
Saturday, March 10: The Fray
Sunday, March 11: Southern Uprising Tour: A Southern Rock Revival with Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Outlaws
Saturday, March 17: Olga Tañón
Sunday, March 18: Goo Goo Dolls
Saturday, March 24: Better Than Ezra & Tonic
Sunday, March 25: Michael Bolton
Saturday, March 31: Boyz II Men
Sunday, April 1: Natalie Grant
Saturday, April 7: Hank Williams, Jr.
Sunday, April 8: TLC
Saturday, April 14: Bret Michaels
Sunday, April 15: Coming Soon!
Saturday, April 21: The All-American Rejects
Sunday, April 22: Cole Swindell
Saturday, April 28: Flo Rida
Sunday, April 29: Kaleo & Bleachers

Guests can choose from two exclusive VIP concert upgrades at the Festival which include priority seating and a 5-item sampler lanyard for even more access to great times and great tastes.

Additionally, guests can purchase of 5, 10 and 12-item sampler lanyards to tailor the experience to any taste bud. Food and beverage is not included with park admission and is available for an additional fee. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consumer alcoholic beverages.


  • For a limited time, buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card and get an Adventure Island Fun Card FREE! Experience both parks through 2018 for the price of one.


  • For those wishing for more VIP offerings, the Annual Pass includes unlimited admission for 12 months, free parking, no blockout dates, in-park discounts and other benefits, valued at more than $350. With EZpay, Annual Passes start at just $14 per month for one park, and $16 per month for both Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island.

Be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by joining the conversation using #corksandcoasters on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain and Grupo Niche to Kickoff the Food & Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

This weekend the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival begins and I just learned some more exciting news about their kickoff weekend! Check out the notice they just sent me below the image!

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 26, 2018) – Chart-topping artists Sister Hazel and Edwin McCain, and Latin sensation Grupo Niche will take the stage this weekend at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay’s fourth annual Food & Wine Festival.

The festival takes place on Saturdays and Sundays March 3 through April 29. Concerts are included with any Pass, Fun Card or daily admission.

Sister Hazel – Saturday, March 3 at 5:30 p.m., Gwazi Park

Originally from the sunshine state, Sister Hazel has been considered “one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years.” The five gifted and seasonal musicians exude natural talent and charisma with their chart-topping hits “All for You” and “Lighter in the Dark” earning them multiple spots on Billboard charts. Along with being outstanding musicians, the band hosts annual philanthropic events like “Hazelnut Hang” and gives back with Lyrics for Life benefiting cancer research and patient-care. Don’t miss out on celebrating with Sister Hazel here at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Edwin McCain– Saturday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m., Gwazi Park

Proclaimed the “great American romantic” by the New York Times, Edwin McCain has swept the nation with over 20 years of pop music and endless touring. His love ballads and genuine personality makes concerts feel more like nonstop parties. With classic hits like “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask for More”, McCain has proved time and time again that he is truly a one-of-a-kind performer.

Grupo Niche – Sunday, March 4 at 6:00 p.m., Gwazi Park

Join us as we welcome the salsa sensation, Group Niche, to this year’s Food and Wine Festival! Residing in eccentric country of Colombia, this group has taken Latin America by storm with its Latin flares and outstanding performances.


  • Food, Wine & Brew Sampler – Guests with exclusive interests in culinary offerings can purchase a Food & Wine sampler that includes any samples of choice throughout the Festival. Samplers are available in quantities of five, eight or twelve and start at $29.99. New this year, a Pass Member exclusive 15-item Sampler is available for the same price as a 12-item Sampler.

  • Wine, Bourbon and Tequila by the Bottle – Guests can take home a part of the Food & Wine Festival with wine, bourbon and tequila available for purchase by the bottle at the Xcursions gift shop.


  •  For a limited time, buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card and get an Adventure Island Fun Card FREE! Experience both parks through 2018 for the price of one.

  • For those wishing for more VIP offerings, the Annual Pass includes unlimited admission for 12 months, free parking, no blockout dates, in-park discounts and other benefits, valued at more than $350. With EZpay, Annual Passes start at just $14 per month for one park, and $16 per month for both Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island

The Festival features all-new twists on cuisine at 13 culinary cabins, along with favorites like mango shrimp ceviche and beef brisket on a spiced corn waffle. Experience bold new eats at the Savory Tavern with fried frog legs with bacon corn fritters, or indulge in flavorful treats at Artisan Eats with beloved dish duck fat truffle fries and then spice it up with tostones rellenos de pollo at Comfort Kitchen.  Opt for lobster tart with leeks and Swiss cheese or mushroom vol-au-vent at the Light Fare Canteen, or relish in the robust flavors at Chef’s Plantation with salmon cake with lemon aioli, Korean-style ribs and all-new short rib and brie grilled cheese.  Guests can elevate the Food and Wine Festival experience even more by sipping a carefully curated selection of fine bourbons and new tequila tastings.

The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival takes place on Saturdays and Sundays from March 3 through April 29 and is included with any Pass, Fun Card or daily admission. Food and beverage is not included with park admission and is available for an extra fee. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages.

Be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the park’s blog at, or “Like” the Busch Gardens Facebook page, and follow @buschgardens on TwitterInstagram and Snapchat.


About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ 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. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. 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 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States. 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. Visit or Busch

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit for more.

So Many Things to See and Do at the Florida State Fair!

Thanks to Cox Media Group Tampa I was given a family four pack to the Florida State Fair in exchange for this post and social media love. Although my tickets, some meals and rides were free, this has not affected my review. All opinions are my own.

Every year I look forward to The Florida State Fair. The food, the rides, the people watching. It’s something my husband and I thoroughly enjoy going to. There are so many things to do at the fair, and this year we decided to enjoy some of our favorite activities AND check out a few of the things we’ve never done before.

Our old faithfuls at The Florida State Fair

  • The food – We always end up with a corn dog upon arrival, and the past couple of years we end with a cheeseburger. Hubby always goes for the traditional barbecue bacon burger, and I either get the doughnut burger or the mac and cheese burger from Carousel Foods. Such yumminess! And seriously – you have to try the doughnut burger once in your life. I think you will be as surprised as I was at how delicious this darn thing actually is!
  • The arts – We LOVE seeing the entries in the arts and crafts contest held every year at the fair. The paintings and the sculptures, and the photos – this year they were just over the top. And, I was exceptionally giddy because I actually recognized some of the names of the winners in the art contests. I’ve decided next year I want to add a contribution of my own. I’ll share what I’m entering when it comes time.
  • The people watching – Dude! This is far and away my FAVORITE thing to do at the fair. You never know what outfits you will see, who you will bump into or what fun you will witness.  One of the crazy things we witnessed this year while people watching was a cell phone FLYING off of a ride. That was nuts. It almost hit someone!! Funny and scary all at the same time. And the craziest part? Their cell phone protector actually protected it. NO DAMAGE! Not even a single crack. That’s crazy right?!?
  • The Sky Ride – I love this because it takes you from one end of the fair to the other and gives you incredible views along the way. Resting our feet while getting a bird’s eye view? Winning!
  • The Ferris Wheel – it’s tradition. We always ride the Ferris Wheel. What was extra exciting about this year’s ride though was the wheel was bigger and we rode at sunset. We got some of the most epic views from the top. Seriously. Check this out:

The new things we saw/did in 2018 at the fair:

  • We went and visited with the drivers of the mini monster trucks. I had no idea this was a thing for kids! Youngins driving mini trucks?!? WOWZA! Pretty wild seeing these littles with those big trucks.
  • We also checked out the Farm to School Fun arcade hosted by The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). There were free games, educational opportunities, and we got to try some roasted peanuts from the Florida farmers that grow them. I also learned a lot about vegetables, bees, spiders, butterflies, and fish in this room.
  • For a few moments as we took a rest from the sun we stopped in and watched some baton twirling competitors. That was so cool and made me realize JUST how uncoordinated I really am. haha! We also darted over in the same hall and checked out the arts and crafts vendors selling their goods. It is truly amazing how talented some people are. While they we also got our fill of fudge, more peanuts, dip samples and more. So much deliciousness!!!
  • One thing we did that we’ve never done was juice our own oranges in the agriculture area. This covered areas also had some chickens in it which prompted a humorous conversation between me and the hubs about why we need to own chickens when we get a house.

Things we skipped or missed that I wish we’d seen:

  • We missed the Extreme Illusions & Escapes show, the BMX/FMX Freestyle Madness displays, Circus Hollywood, and the Laser Light shows. Mind you we didn’t skip them because we wanted to. We should have made the fair visit a multi-day event because we just didn’t have time for everything. The timing was off for us to see things at their scheduled hours, and/or we weren’t in the area when it was happening.
  • We skipped Cracker Country this year. Forgive me y’all, but I just wasn’t excited about this – perhaps because we’ve seen it sooooooooo many times over the years. I do regret not going over at least long enough to get some kettle corn though. It’s never better anywhere than it is there IMHO.
  • We missed events that were only happening on specific days. For example, we’ll miss the demolition derby because another trip to the fair before they close this year probably won’t be feasible with our work schedules.  Same for the Trashy Flashy Fashion Show. We were there the day after this occurred. I have to say I was super bummed about missing this because I LOVE trashy fashion shows. The way the artists can turn garbage into wearable art never ceases to amaze me.

Our 2018 fair visit was a success in my book

All in all, I loved my day at the fair, and sincerely hope that in 2019 I can afford more time to be there. I’d like to go multiple days and check out more events and things I haven’t seen yet, or that I’ve not seen in awhile. I will say that for the cost of the fair ticket, there is certainly a LOT of entertainment and enjoyment to be had. It’s not JUST about the rides and the food. I can’t wait to visit again. In the meantime, I’m hoping to check out many other events our fair city has to offer. <- see what I did there? LOL! I crack me up!

Check out all the images I snapped at The Florida State Fair this year –

How Not to End a Musical – A Love Never Dies Review

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center I received two complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to Love Never Dies. This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.
“Only For You” – Mary Michael Patterson (“Meg Giry”) and the Ensemble of Love Never Dies. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Okay so look. I LOVE musicals. Like, wish I was the one singing and dancing on stage kind of love for musicals. M’kay? So, please go into this post knowing that first and foremost so you don’t just think I’m hatin’.

I want to start by saying that the cast, the sets, the singing, the overall production of Love Never Dies – they were all absolutely stunning. I loved the set so much, it was just gorgeous! And, the singing gave me goosebumps in the best way. Just awesome. Everything was going great. At intermission I was on cloud nine. I even tweeted this:

Gardar Thor Cortes (“The Phantom”) and Meghan Picerno (“Christine Daaé”) star in Love Never Dies. Photo by Joan Marcus.

And then…the last frikkin number came, and what happened after ruined EVERYTHING!!! I won’t spoil it in case you’re going to go see it. BUT!!! Love Never Dies ended in the worst way of EVER!!! I hated it. I was fuming. I was crying like a blubbering frikkin’ mess, and then I was pissed off the entire way home. I thought musicals were supposed to have a happy ending dammit! This one did not, and it made me mad. Like so mad I couldn’t even tweet about how I was feeling about it for more than an hour.

Meghan Picerno (“Christine Daaé”) stars in Love Never Dies. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Here’s the thing – if you want to believe the end is happy, leave after you see the peacock. Let Christine sing for you, and as soon as the song ends and the peacock goes away – LEAVE. THE. THEATER!!! Then, pretend the ending was a lovely, sweet one, and you’ll walk away feeling like it was one of the greatest musicals perhaps of all time. BUT, if you want to get mad, sad, heartbroken or any other array of negative emotions…stick around for the horrible conclusion that left me wanting to punch someone.

This is one time I wish somebody had warned me about the ending. It’s the one time I wish someone had said, Ashley LEAVE after the song in front of the peacock. If I had known and walked away, I would have ended the evening feeling that it was a fabulous night out, and simply an amazing production.

I want to reiterate at this point that I LOVED all of the rest of the show. It kept me on my toes, and falling hard for some of the characters. Maybe that’s why the ending made me so upset. Or maybe it’s my own life experiences that made the last moments of the production ruin the entire show for me. I’m not 100% sure. What I do know is this though – that to me was how NOT to end a musical.

Love Never Dies is playing at the Straz Center in Tampa through December 17, 2017. To see all of the shows playing at the Center, click here.

Photo by Rob-Harris



Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2017 – Fun for the Whole Family this Holiday Season

FTC Disclosure: I will be receiving two passes to visit Christmas Town in the month of December in exchange for social media love. While the tickets are being given to me for free, this has not affected my opinions of Busch Gardens or their Christmas Town event. 

Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay’s annual holiday tradition, Christmas Town™  is back in town for the holidays now through December 31st. And, this season they are keeping it open for an extended  Three Kings Day Celebration from Jan. 1 through Jan. 6.  I’ve had the amazing pleasure of attending Christmas Town three different times, and it always beams bright with twinkling lights, spectacular shows, holiday shopping and even a visit to Santa’s House! Check out all the amazing things that Christmas Town has to offer, and I hope you will consider attending Busch Gardens for this fun event this year. It’s truly a fabulous way to get into the holiday spirit!!!

Attractions and Features of Christmas Town 2017:

 NEW! Holiday Culinary Samplers: Enjoy 5 or 10 delectable creations from our holiday menus during Christmas Town. Culinary locations like Christmas Town Village will feature savory treats and Yuletide sweets for the whole family.

 NEW! Story Time Breakfast with Rudolph: Sometimes the best part about Christmas morning is the breakfast. This year, the all-new Story Time Breakfast with Rudolph delivers atDragon Fire Grill complete with holiday songs, story time and special surprises. Indulge in waffles, French toast, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese grits, pastries, biscuits and gravy, and much more.

NEW! Three Kings Celebration: Busch Gardens unfolds the famed journey to the humble town of Bethlehem during a Three Kings Celebration from Jan. 1-6. This cultural celebration boasts authentic Latin traditions, live entertainment honoring the three wise men and Busch Gardens’ dazzling display of twinkling lights.

Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland: Making his Christmas Town debut, Sam the Snowman joins Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble at Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland located in Celestial Crossing.  Meet and take photos with these beloved characters, play holiday games and indulge in Yuletide treats while scenes of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer® television special come to life.

Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola®: The Claus family invites you into their North Pole home at Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola®. While the elves are busy preparing for Christmas, Santa is taking a break from his busy holiday schedule to meet and take photos with families in his private study.

Thrill Rides at Night: Nestled between beautifully lit trees and roaring with excitement, some of the best views of Christmas Town can be found atop Florida’s top thrill rides, including family spin coaster, Cobra’s Curse®.

Guests can also expect the return of fan-favorite shows that ring in the season, including Christmas on IceCarol of the Bells light show and the Holiday Hills Brass Band. For a complete list of seasonal sights and unforgettable Yuletide experiences, visit

Christmas Town is included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park. The event is open until 10 p.m. on select dates and will close at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. For New Year’s Eve, Christmas Town will remain open until 1 a.m. to ring in 2018. Please visit our website for park hours.

For a limited time, guests can pay for a day and get two parks now through 2018 FREE! Enjoy unlimited admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay through Dec. 31, 2018 and to Adventure Island through the 2018 season. Offer ends March 25, 2018.

For more event information, visit  Plus, be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the Busch GardensTampa Bay blog or joining in the conversation with @BuschGardens on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat.

Tickets Now on Sale for Sixth Annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked

FTC Disclosure: As part of my partnership with Hayworth PR I am receiving two VIP admissions to the Clearwater Beach uncorked event in exchange for a review and social media love. This has not affected my opinion of the event, its sponsors or Clearwater Beach and its partners. 

Sip. Savor. Repeat. at Sixth Annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked Food and Wine Festival

Tickets Now on Sale for Two-Day Food, Wine & Craft Beer Festival – Dec 2 & 3

Have you heard? Tickets are on sale for the Sixth Annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked! This is the sixth year for this highly anticipated two-day, food wine and craft beer festival. The event will be held December 2-3, in a new location directly on Clearwater Beach (Right next to the official host hotel, Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach), just south of Pier 60.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked will celebrate the Bay area’s most renowned chefs, restaurants, and breweries in a culinary showcase served with 180-degree Gulf of Mexico views. The event is the west coast sister of the new Cocoa Beach Uncorked, which debuted in June and was dubbed one of the best food, wine and beer festivals on Florida’s East coast. Tickets and details are available online at

Clearwater Beach provides an ideal setting to showcase an impressive roster of the Bay area’s culinary offerings to thousands of foodies, wine lovers and beer aficionados,” said Tammy Gail, event producer. “This taste-fest brings together people with a shared interest for an unforgettable weekend for attendees, partners and exhibitors alike. This is our sixth year, and we’re pulling out all the stops to highlight the culinary attributes of Florida’s west coast.”

The two-day event will feature interactive experiences, tastings, cooking demonstrations and competitions between some of the area’s most notable and award-winning chefs and restaurants. To help create a full weekend culinary experience, the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, the official hotel sponsor of the event, is offering an Uncorked Getaway during the weekend of December 1-2, which includes accommodations and a pair of General admission tickets for just $289.

Event tickets are $65 per person, per day for general admission and $95 per person, per day for VIP access. All guests will receive a limited-edition wine glass, custom tote bag and enjoy the Grand Tasting Village with unlimited tastings from 1 to 4 p.m. Guests who purchase a VIP ticket will also enjoy one-hour early admission to the Grand Tasting Village and exclusive access to the Spirits Pool Lounge at the Wyndham Grand pool deck from 1 to 5 p.m. to sample exciting and intriguing crafted libations.

A portion of the proceeds from Clearwater Beach Uncorked will benefit University of South Florida’s Sarasota Manatee School of Hospitality and Tourism, Vet to Chef program. Funds will be used to help the training program give veterans who are struggling a fresh start and pull their lives together by entering a civilian career in the culinary arts.

For more information on Clearwater Beach Uncorked and to purchase tickets, visit Follow Clearwater Beach Uncorked on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram #Uncorkedweekend.

About Clearwater Beach Uncorked:

Clearwater Beach Uncorked has been dubbed the hippest, most exciting two-day food, wine, and craft beer festival on Florida’s West Coast. The event welcomes thousands of attendees to Florida’s award-winning Clearwater Beach.  In celebration of its sixth anniversary, Clearwater Beach Uncorked will play host to foodies, wine lovers and craft beer aficionados who long to wiggle their toes in the sugar white sand as they enjoy some of the area’s most delectable offerings. The 30,000 sq. ft. Grand Tasting Tent will feature a vast array of mouthwatering taste experiences for discerning palettes. A percentage of ticket sales will benefit the University of South Florida Sarasota Manatee School of Hospitality and Technology.  

Tampa Bay Wing Fling – Preview and a Giveaway!

As part of my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I have partnered with Big City Events to write this post and offer a ticket giveaway. In exchange, I have been compensated with free tickets for myself and a guest, but all opinions below are my own.

Tampa Bay Wing Fling – 10/21/17

Hey bloggy friends! It’s that time again – giveaway time! I just LOVE giveaways, don’t you?!? This time, I’m giving away TWO general admission tickets to the Tampa Bay Wing Fling being held this Saturday, October 21, 2017 at noon at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park!!!

About the Tampa Bay Wing Fling

The Inaugural Tampa Bay Wing Fling promises to be Tampa’s biggest Wing Festival & Competition! You can eat wings from several Tampa Bay Area wing joints, and then vote for the best wing.

Throughout the day there will be live music, cold beer, signature bourbon drinks, and fun interactive games like a Chicken Toss Contest, Costume Contest, a Chicken Run, and many more! This event looks like it’s going to be a finger licken- chicken of a good time! I personally can’t wait to attend.

As of 10/16/17 the participating wing joints include: RyRy’s Chicken and Waffles // Buffalo Wild Wings // Zukku // Miss Vi’s Cook-up Vending and Catering // MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!

General Admission Tickets start at only $15 and you can buy them here, but you could score FREE tickets via the giveaway below. Children 12 and under FREE. No pets allowed.

General Admission Tickets include: Admission to the Tampa Bay Wing Fling, along with entertainment, activities, games, and more! Food & Drinks are purchased separately. Skip the line and purchase a Wing Package!

VIP Maker’s Mark Experience Tickets include: All day admission to the Tampa Bay Wing Fling in addition to unlimited beer, wine, water, bourbon drinks. Enjoy priority entrance, shade & seating, VIP restrooms, and a 6-wing platter courtesy of WingHouse!

Now…The giveaway!!! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions of the giveaway:

The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. Open to Tamppa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg area residents 18+ only. Confirmed Winner(s) (selected by will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 6 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. This blog is not responsible for product shipment, delivery, or fulfillment. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social media sites.

This disclosure is made in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address, and/or Facebook account. Anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not.

Recapping My Experience at The Grand Beauty Spa AND a Giveaway!

Thanks to my partnership with The Grand Beauty Spa and Seven Marketing PR,  I received a complimentary massage in exchange for a review, and some social media love. Although the massage was free, this has not affected my review in any way. All opinions below are my own.

When I first walked in to The Grand Beauty Spa, the staff greeted me and offered me a beverage. I was pleasantly surprised that one of the beverage options was wine. Although I’ve been living a semi-dry lifestyle lately, something about slipping into a state of comfort that day made me want a glass of wine. After all as Nanci from This Crazy Life Designs says “wine is a hug in a glass”. So I gave myself permission to have one glass, and I gotta say, it felt so nice to be drinking in the middle of a work day, just getting pampered.

I was also given a tour of the facility, and the serenity areas inside and outside easily helped me to forget that I was on a busy street on Kennedy!

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I was feeling all zen like.  At last minute I was told that I would be having a male masseuse, and I must say I was a little taken aback by that because I went in expecting that I was going to be massaged by a female. I’ve never had a man massage me before. So, to be honest I really didn’t know what to expect.

One of the things that calmed my nerves right off the bat though, was that my masseuse whose name was Bruce told me he had a couple of rules in his room – I don’t remember exactly what all of them were, but I do remember him saying that one of the most important rules was for me to give myself permission to leave the outside world outside of his room and just relax. I know it might sound silly but this actually really helped me to do exactly that – Bruce says RELAX!

Another thing he said was that if he was too rough with his pressure to let him know because he wanted this to be an enjoyable experience, not a painful one. And somehow that reassured me too … The 80 minutes went by really quickly, and I must confess I kept repeating Bruce’s words in my head “just give yourself permission to relax.”

One of the problems that I often have with getting massages, is that by the end of it I haven’t actually fully relaxed. This one however, completely did the job. I can honestly say that I completely forgot that I was sitting on the middle of a very busy street in downtown Tampa. Who knew that a spa on Kennedy Boulevard could give you this level of peace, comfort, and total zen? I would highly recommend getting a massage at The Grand Beauty Spa.

Because I’m all about full disclosure, I do have to say I did have one complaint about my experience at the spa – but only one. When I went to rinse off the lotion from the massage in the ladies locker room, I lost all hot water in the shower after only about 5 minutes. For the life of me I could not get that hot water back 🙁 I twisted that knob every which way I could think of, but basically had to end my rinse with cold water.

Luckily, there’s nothing else I can think of that was negative about my experience at The Grand Beauty Spa. It certainly makes me look forward to the day that my blog is making me enough money so that I can regularly get massages like that one. Because let’s be honest ladies, self-care and self-pampering just makes us nicer people!

Learn more about #howtograndspa with their offerings here:

Use promotion code: TAMPABLOGGER and mention Famous Ashley Grant to score 10% off the services available at The Grand Spa


The Grand awaits to “Teach You How to Spa” in a Grand way!

The Grand understands the importance of a consistent beauty regime and offers special pricing for Grand Spa Members’ monthly visits and treatments with exclusive pricing and exceptional members only events.

All Grand Spa Memberships Include:

  • Unlimited use of Infra-Red Sauna, team Room and Relaxation areas
  • Monthly applications of customized Keratase
  • Shu Uemura Hair Masque with Complimentary Detoxifying Peloid Mud in our Steam Room
  • Membership pricing on select services
  • 10% discount for Med Spa, Salon and Retail
  • Monthly Yoga Classes and Grand Goddess Ceremony


  • Couples Massage
  • Hot Stone Massage Grand Spa Wrap, Scrubs and Bath
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Pre-and post Natal Massage
  • A shiatsu Oriental bar Therapy
  • Grand Thai Table Massage
  • Grand Classic Marine Algae Wrap Detox Treatments


  • Botox
  • Fillers
  • Vitamin B Injections
  • PRP


  • Custom Couture Blow dry & Style
  • Custom Hair Cut and Style
  • Special Occasion Hairstyling
  • Custom Highlights
  • Hair Color Retouch
  • Gloss Toner


  • Bridal Trial UpDo & Bridal UpDo
  • Bridal Makeup
  • Bridal on Location
  • Grand Manicure & Pedicures
  • Eyelash Extensions
  • Grand Make-up Application



  • Featuring THALGO the anti-aging specialists offering facials for different ages and anti-aging concerns, all renowned for their incredible results.
  • For a radiant firmer complexion, our selection of customized facials are perfect for every age. Grand Beauty Spa specialty facials enhance the look of your skin, encourage rejuvenation and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
  • Innovative masques and serums are used to exfoliate, tighten and revitalize your skin. The Grand offers a comprehensive range of advanced therapies specifically geared to reverse the signs of aging caused by environment, pollution and sun exposure.


The Grand Massage

Few experiences in life can compare to the benefits of receiving an outstanding massage under the trained hands of a professional massage therapist. While all of our massages help relieve tension, allowing your body to relax and rejuvenate. We offer a therapeutic synergy of Swedish, Thai and Shiatsu massage technologies are tailored to renew and revitalize mind and body-A Grand Exclusive.

Enjoy our elegant and beautifully appointed spa facility including our infrared sauna, steam room and Zen Gardens as part of your Spa experience.

Don't forget! Use promotion code: TAMPABLOGGER and mention Famous Ashley Grant to score 10% off the services available at The Grand Spa


In the tradition of the finest five-star European spas and salons, the Grand offers spa and salon services from head to toe under one roof. Now celebrating its ten-year anniversary, the Grand has redefined the beauty salon/spa experience taking it to a new level.

At the Grand the latest techniques, treatments, European-trained stylists and skin care specialists provide clients with an unparalleled salon/spa experience. The Grand’s team of elite professionals join to provide clients with the ultimate experience. Carmen Sargeant owner of the Grand, has designed The Grand to be an oasis of peace and tranquility, offering cutting-edge beauty and wellness services in a personalized, relaxed and beautiful setting.


Carmen Lee Sargeant

With over 20 years of experience, Carmen not only leads and inspires her salon team, she trains stylists around the country. Carmen teaches and tours with America’s top stylists during New York’s Spring and Fall Fashion Week. Carmen enjoys sharing her knowledge as an artist with top international teams including Kerastase and the Shu Uemura Artistic teams in New York and LA. (@kerastase_official , @shuartofhair)

Carmen received her training form top celebrity stylists including Martin Parsons, Beth Miniardi, Trevor Sorbie and Kattria Solano. She has also studied with SoHO Academy, Redken 5th Avenue and Shu Uemura Atelier.

Carmen is deeply committed to giving back to her community and volunteers with her husband and three children for numerous charity causes. Carmen’s family also enjoys doing pet therapy with their dog visiting local hospitals.

The Grand Promise- Customization

The Grand Beauty Spa recognizes that every guest’s face and body are unique. We customize and continually update treatments to meet client’s needs and deliver the benefits they seek. No luxury is spared in our quest to create unparalleled results.

Update: The Giveaway has ended

And now, A GIVEAWAY!!!!

This giveaway is being hosted directly by The Grand Beauty Spa. Check out the details they sent me below to learn how you could win a spa day for you and your mom by following their instructions 🙂




Some people don’t believe in Heroes but they haven’t met my Mom”

Nominate your #MYHEROMOM and WIN a Grand Spa Day for Two!

Moms come in many shapes and sizes. There are step-moms, foster moms, adopted moms, grand-moms, teacher-moms and of course Moms. This Mother’s Day, we want to celebrate our Hero Moms. 

Tell us about your hero mom and why she inspires you: Is it her kind-heartedness? Her bravery? Her selflessness? Her sacrifices? It could be your mom or someone else’s mother. Tell us why your #myheromom is so special and you could win a Spa Day for Two from Grand Beauty Spa and Tampa Bay Parenting.

We’re certainly not looking for the perfect mom (because none of us are) but we’d love to hear about it! We’ll share some of our favorite entries around Mother’s Day.  


Answer the questions below and enter an optional story in 300 words or less.

Our panel of judges will pick three winners. The winning Moms and guest will be treated to a Spa day on Saturday, May 13th.  The 2 runners-up will each receive a $100 gift card to Grand Beauty Spa. So make it an extra-happy Mother’s Day in your house this year, and send in your entry! All five winners will be published on

Please include a photo of yourself and/or your hero mom.

The contest begins April 17th and will run until Monday, May 1st at 10 p.m. (EST). YOU CAN ENTER THE CONTEST DIRECTLY HERE!!!

We will contact the winner(s) by noon on May 5th.

















A Day of Fun and Relaxing at the Valspar Championship

Thanks to my partnership with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was given free tickets and parking at the Valspar Championship.  This has not effected this post, however.
All opinions in this post are my own.

On Sunday, March 12, 2017, my husband and I got to attend the final day of the Valspar Golf Championship. Little fun fact, I’m terrible at golf, and I never watch it on television, but this would not be the first time I would watch a tournament live in person.

Also see my post about this event on the Tampa Bay Bloggers blog where I discussed why the Valspar Golf Tournament is a family friendly event.

To tell you the truth, few places calm me down as much as golf courses do. It’s honestly why I wish I enjoyed golfing. Perhaps with practice I could learn to love it, but my favorite things about visiting golf courses are:

  • Driving the golf cart. Yes, really! lol
  • Walking around the course – they are always so pretty.
  • Most importantly,  the quiet. The expectation is that on a golf course you will be as quiet as possible, and there in lies the allure of them for me.

Here’s the funny thing. Everyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty loud. But, there is something so peaceful about being on a golf course that even I am willing to be a lot more quiet. The feeling of serenity I get on courses like the Innisbrook Golf Resort Copperhead Course where the Valspar Golf Tournament was held – oh man, it’s just pure bliss.

I turn the ringer off my phone, I shut up, and I just take in the sights and sounds of nature. I mean look how beautiful the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is:


Don’t those images kind of make you want to go for a walk there too? It was just such a lovely day. I mean sure, there was golf, and there was excitement, but my favorite part was the calm. By the end of the day my feet were killing me from all the walking, yet it was magical, and I loved it. I can’t wait for the next excuse to hang out on a golf course!