Add flair to your boxed cakes by adding ingredients into the mix. Check out this boxed cake remixed post for some ideas to uplevel your boxed cake.
Now, if you’ve never thought to do a box cake remixed, you’re not alone. I personally can’t believe of all the things I add extra flair to, I never thought to church up a boxed cake mix.
You see – one thing my husband and I love to do is add different things to pre-packaged items to give it some flair. After hearing Collen Ballinger refer to this practice as “churching it up,” we started doing the same thing.
Remixing or altering recipes adds a little something special to the otherwise status quo.
A common thing we do this with is frozen pizza. We buy the cheapo pizzas and then church them up with extra pepperoni and cheese and whatever else tickles our fancy. Recently though, I learned about churching up boxed cake mix. Say what?!?
Here’s the first boxed cake remix I’m sharing – Orange Vanilla Cake.
I think you will find the additions are damn tasty! I’ll add more ideas to this post as I learn about them
Orange Vanilla Cake – Boxed Cake Remixed
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
2 boxes vanilla instant pudding (3.5 oz each)
2 cups milk
1 oz Grand Marnier or orange extract
1 8 oz container of Cool Whip – thawed
1 tbsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 350°F
Spray 2 round cake pans with non-sticking spray for baking
Mix the cake mix, orange juice, eggs and oil for approx 2 – 3 minutes until thoroughly mixed. You can do this by hand or with a mixer.
Pour the cake batter evenly into your cake pans and bake according to box directions.
Cool in a wire rack before inverting and removing from pans.
While cakes are baking prepare the frosting.
Whisk milk and pudding mix until the pudding begins to get thick. Add the Grand Marnier (or orange extract) and mix.
Then fold the Cool Whip and orange orange zest.
Place the frosting in the fridge to set for about at least an hour.
When the cake has cooled completely, remove the dome of the cakes so they are leveled with a serrated knife, if you would like, this will allow it to sit a bit more level but it is not required.
Place one of the cakes on the serving plate or platter. Spread about 1/4 of the frosting on the cake. Make sure it covers all the surface of the cake, add more if needed.
Top with the second cake.
Use the remaining frosting to coat the top and sides.
Decorate with orange slices or strawberries if desired.
Keep refrigerated until ready to enjoy.
Additional Ideas for a Boxed Cake Remix
Take a plain yellow, chocolate or white cake and add your favorite nuts
Add coconut to your frosting
Add a splash of your favorite liquor to a yellow, chocolate or white cake mix and then repeat with the frosting.
Throw in chocolate chips to your favorite cake mix
Your business needs a blog, and you need to learn how to write a blog post. I can help!
Today, anyone can write a blog post, but writing a blog that will make visitors want to read and share the content is quite challenging. Fortunately, writing a blog post with great content requires no degree in creative writing.
There seems to be an infinite number of guides and tutorials on how to write a blog post, but the most important aspect for the best blog post is providing engaging and valuable content that readers will find entertaining and useful. With that in mind, here is a brief guide on how to write a great a blog post:
Craft an intriguing headline
In order to get visitors to click and read your content, you should start with an interesting title. The title should draw the reader in, giving them the impression that they need to read this post to learn something important.
Keep the readers interested with a good introduction
The title gets the reader’s attention, but the intro keeps them on the page. A good introduction tells the reader exactly what to expect when they finish reading the post. You could promise to solve a business or personal problem, make a statement that is relatable to them, or ask a common question. The goal is to make your website visitors keep reading in order to get the answer or solution.
Go straight to the point
People don’t want to sit reading a bunch of rambling before the point is revealed. Refrain from babbling, delete the fluff and keep the reader engaged as you get to your point.
Address the users directly for a more personal approach
In order to create a personal connection with the readers, you could use, us, we, you and I. Write the post like you are talking directly to readers.
Write the same way you would speak
It is a good idea to use an informal writing style and conversational tone when writing a blog post. Simplify convoluted words and avoid using long sentences. Also, break the complex ideas to simple and understandable concepts and do not try to impress the readers with difficult vocabularies.
Keep the paragraphs short
Most online readers have a short concentration span, they will skim or skip all long paragraphs. Therefore, keep all paragraphs around five to seven lines.
Subheadings make it easy for readers to absorb information and skim the content of the page by breaking up the long text with subheadings.
The use of images in a blog post increases clicks through rates, shares and links. Using images, graphs, charts and videos facilitates better transmission of data and information while enhancing user experience.
Include a strong closing paragraph
A closing paragraph, also known as a conclusion, sums up the content of the post and discusses key points to note emphasizing what the readers should learn and how they will benefit from it.
Proof read and edit the post
In order to build and maintain credibility, blog posts should be free of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and unreliable statements. Neglecting to proof read prior to publication can destroy the reputation of a blog.
You may have noticed I didn’t give a word count. This is because there is no clear cut answer. Some experts believe that your blog posts should be no longer than 300-400 words because this is approximately how many words can show up at one time on a computer screen. However, others feel that you should write longer posts for better clarity and to give more information.
My take is your post can be as long or as short as you think it needs to be to answer the question or give the solution to the problem you promised your reader you would address in the intro. Over time your readers will tell you if they think you are writing too much or too little, and as you become more comfortable with writing you’ll settle on a length that you are happy with.
After you write your first post, you should create a writing schedule and editorial calendar so that you can give your readers a regular set of new content. But, we’ll save that for later. For now though, I hope this has given you a pretty decent grasp on how to write a blog post.
Creating a blog can take a lot of time and energy. Hopefully, these 4 tips for blogging time management help you get things done faster and more efficiently.
Blogging Time Management – 4 Tips for Efficiency
1. Create a Blogging Schedule
While it is impossible to stick to the same routine every day, it is very important to come up with a rough weekly blogging schedule that you can adhere to. Even when daily activities seem to be working against your daily blogging, strive to create a window of time for working on your blog content at least once everyday. At least keep it on your daily to-do list even if you’re unsure where you will fit it in each day. If it’s not on the to-do list it will quickly fall completely out of mind.
2. Avoid Distractions
If you run your own business, distractions are inevitable. However, if you are serious about wanting to have a blog on your website, you need to make sure the time you finally take to write your posts is uninterrupted. Turn off the cell phone ringer, close your email and facebook and just focus on the task at hand.
3. Keep a Record of Blogging Ideas
To be a successful blogger, you must learn to write down any blogging idea as soon as it pops up. However, this does not mean that you should write the entire blog after an idea comes up. It means that you should take note of that great idea and try to incorporate it at some point. This will save you time in coming up with new ideas when you sit down to work on your post.
4. Develop a Content Calendar
Setting an intention to write daily is one thing, but creating a content calendar is another. This is a time saving tactic because it will help you layout your plan for the month or even the year all at once. Instead of having to go back and forth determining when the post you want to write should be published, you’ll already have a rough idea as to what topics you would like covered for any given time. Knowing the topics you want to cover in advance can also help you while you’re brainstorming ideas for your posts.
While blogging is meant to be fun and enjoyable, it’s easy to spend far too much time if you don’t have a strategy in place. Hopefully these tips will help you create your content a little faster. If however, you find that it’s just taking too much time to write blogs for your site, I invite you to hire me to do it for you instead! I’d love to work with you. Contact me today!
We’re in a time of wild uncertainty. Businesses and schools closing due to coronavirus, people hoarding grocery and toiletries – it’s enough to make even the calmest of individuals feel a little anxious. But, there are things we can still control. With that in mind, I’m covering 9 things to do to stay happy and healthy during a pandemic.
9 Tips to Stay Mentally and Physically Healthy While You’re Stuck at Home
Being on lockdown during a pandemic should not be an excuse to let go of your body and engage in an unhealthy lifestyle. If you have to stay indoors longer than usual, it is even more essential to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Boost your immune system, anyone?
By staying on top of your behavior when you are stuck at home, you can prevent yourself from developing things like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and muscle atrophy.
Studies have shown that people who do not maintain a healthy lifestyle when stuck at home often find it difficult to resume normal activities after the home period is over. Going back to work may prove challenging. So if you are going to be stuck at home, for whatever reason, here are some tips to help you stay healthy:
1. Eat healthy foods
You’d be surprised at the things people eat when they are stuck at home. (**Casually puts down my fourth snack cake**)
It’s fine to eat junk food once in a while, but going on a junk food bender during a lockdown can cause you many issues. So take some time and plan out your meals and snacks. For every 90% of whole, healthy foods, you can reward yourself with 10% of feel-good fare.
2. Get physical
Most people mistake physical exercise for being something we do to look good. It’s much more than that! Exercise helps the body release stress, clear the mind, and it is good for the heart as it gets the blood flowing. When you are stuck at home, exercising can boost your sense of wellbeing and prevent you from suffering from dangerous health conditions like depression and anxiety.
What’s that? You need help with working out at home to stay happy and healthy during a pandemic? I’ve got you!
8 Daily Home Workout Habits to Stay Happy and Healthy During a Pandemic
Set a daily reminder
Working out from home can be a disheartening task especially if you are used to the electric atmosphere of the gym. That is why it is important to come up with effective ways of sticking to your exercise routine regardless of where you are.
You can still stay motivated to exercise during a lockdown. Start by setting a daily reminder and staying true to it. You can start the day off with a 20-minute exercise. This is a great way of remaining focused for the rest of the day.
Join and follow an online workout program
There are specific exercises that are limited to the gym and are impossible to try out at home. For example, the kind of exercises that require lifting weights, machines etc.
If you do not have the right equipment to carry out weight-lifting exercises you can try other forms of free weight exercise.
There are many free apps and websites that can teach you alternative home-based exercises that can be easily carried out with no equipment or even websites that show you how to make your own home equipment using materials available at hand.
Continue with some of the exercises that you do at the gym
While some exercises you do at the gym are impossible to do at home, there are still a few that you can continue doing from home. Continuing with some of your gym exercises from home can help keep you motivated to exercise. It is also a great way of forming a lasting workout habit.
Keep a record of your progress
Keeping a record of what you have achieved or what you are achieving will assist in keeping you focused. You could record your weight the first day you begin exercising and keep a log as you continue with your workout routine. Losing weight can make you realize just how effective exercising from home is and hopefully keep you at it.
Avoid exercising alone whenever possible
Accountability is another way of ensuring you do what you plan to do. Find someone you can exercise with at home or that you have to answer to online and hold each other accountable.
You can set goals or commit to exercising daily for an hour or so. It will all depend on what you both agree on and what you can do.
Have a variety of exercises
Varying exercises can help keep you interested in the workout schedule. It can also get rid of the boredom that you may otherwise face if you remain idle.
Make working out a priority
Making sure you stick to your workout schedule in a pandemic requires that you make working out a priority. We all have top priorities and staying safe during a pandemic is one of them, therefore, exercising routinely should also top the list.
Put on proper workout attire
When working out from home it is important that you wear proper workout attire. What you wear should be the same attire that you would wear when going out to a proper gym. Wearing proper workout gear will tune your mind to that activity and make you feel, and experience exercise the same way you would in a normal gym.
3. Read books
With online streaming sites being so popular, it is easy to get stuck on the couch and binge-watch tv shows. However, people tend to forget the negative impact of long hours watching tv on the eyes, back, and intellect. In order to stay healthy when you are stuck indoors try and incorporate some books in between your tv shows. Taking time off the screen and moving images can do you a lot of good in as far as your eyes are concerned.
4. Feed the mind
Maintaining some level of intellect is another way of staying healthy when stuck at home. There are many ways of keeping your brain active during a lockdown. You could play strategy and logic games that require you to think. You could also enroll in an online course or join forums that discuss highly intellectual topics.
Meditation is an excellent way of relaxing your mind and having a much clearer perspective on things. Meditation is a relaxation method that you can begin practicing right away. If it is something that you are practicing already, continuing with it is worthwhile. Try clearing your mind from negative thoughts and focus on one thing that is positive. Do this every single day for at least 30 minutes without any interruptions.
Play brain-stimulating games
Brain games or games that challenge the intellect will not only keep your kids mentally sharp, but it will also keep them competitive and entertained. Compliment your children when they complete a level or stage to keep them motivated and feeling proud. Encourage them when they fail to complete a certain level the same way you would encourage them when they are doing their homework.
Avoid negative people
No matter what happens in the world, negative people will always look for ways to blow things out of proportion. That is why avoiding negative people in supposedly perilous times is the best thing to do. If you are told to stay at home and cannot avoid those sharing the house, you can encourage the people around you to remain positive. While it may be impossible to make sure everyone stays positive, you can always bring up something positive to talk about. This will change the atmosphere.
Amp up your happy thoughts
Thinking happy thoughts may not be easy right now. But you should try to focus on happy things as much as possible. If you cannot think of anything that shifts your mind from the bad news that is being broadcasted everywhere, let your imagination run wild with the best-case scenarios. You can achieve this by envisioning where you will be or where you want to be when all the madness is over. Think about the number of people who have overcome or who are overcoming the same situation you are in, look at your photo album and rekindle the happy memories.
Avoid bad news whenever you can. Do not focus on the kind of information that will not help rectify the situation. Pay attention to material that gives advice on how you can overcome or guard against being affected by the worsening of the pandemic. Filtering information can also mean changing the subject when it is brought up countless times.
5. Take care of your mental health
When one is stuck indoors, they risk developing mental health issues, especially if they are alone. Taking care of your mental health is an absolute priority when you are locked down. You need to maintain contact with friends and family if you are going to be stuck indoors for a long time. You do not necessarily need it to be physical contact, video chats, texting, and phone calls can do just fine.
6. Find a project
Having a sense of purpose can play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy attitude when stuck at home. It does not even have to be a big project. Just a simple project with results can work wonders. You can embark on a simple project like redecorating your room or something a bit more challenging, like DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects. Need some ideas? Here are a bunch for kids and adults to stay happy and healthy during a pandemic:
Creative & fun family activities you can do at home
Origami is an ancient Japanese art that involves folding paper to make different kinds of shapes like animals, plants, etc. It is an engaging form of art that anyone can learn. To learn origami, all you need is some white paper, color pencils, scissors and glue. You can easily follow tutorials on YouTube together as a family. Depending on how competitive your family members are, you can also have Origami contests after you have mastered several shapes.
Recently some artists have gone on to add some led lights to the paper shapes to give the artwork some beautiful light and color scenery. To kick things up a notch, add colored led lights and display the forms in the house.
Indoor camping is another fun activity for families. It is easy to set up, and everything you need is usually already available in the house. You can turn the living room into a camp out space, turn off the lights, and take turns telling scary stories while roasting marshmallows on a portable burner.
Make short movies
Depending on how many people are in your family, you could write and create short video clips that you record using your smartphone. The idea is to have everyone participate in the whole movie-making process, including writing the script, picking the wardrobe, and acting it out. Keep the dialogue short so that you do not have to memorize a lot of words. It is even more fun if you turn the whole house into a movie set.
Who knows? It could be good enough to put on YouTube and get internet famous!
A treasure hunt is another way of having fun as a family. To make it enjoyable, have one person set up the hunting clues and divide the rest of the family into groups. The hunting clues should cater to all different age groups of the family so everyone can actively participate.
Organize your own indoor Olympics as an entertainment for goofy and hyperactive family members. Create ten competitions that you can do indoors. The activities have to vary in nature and difficulty so that everyone can enjoy and participate. Assign points according to ranking at the end of each event. The winner of the tournament is the one with the most points at the end of all activities. Ideas for activities include eating competition, cup golf, bucket ball, song lyrics, etc.
Play family “Master Chef”
Depending on the resources you have in the house, another very fun activity you can engage in is a cook-off. Just like the TV Master Chef, divide into teams and compete in creating an entirely new dish using a chosen set of ingredients. To make it more interesting, write down the different ingredients on a spin wheel and take turns to spin the wheel to select the ingredients. Use only the selected ingredients for the cook-off!
Turn your home into an Art Gallery
Get the inner artist out of every family member by organizing a home art festival. Everyone must participate and use his creativity and imagination to express his artistic side by painting, drawing, googling or making a collage with old newspapers. At the end, stick all the masterpieces on the walls to create your own family art gallery!
Revamp your family photo album
Remove the “digital” dust from your old photos kept on your computer and start a fresh family photo album. This can be a fun activity to do with the family as each family member reminisces the good old souvenirs. Revamping your digital photos will also be a good opportunity to clear up duplicates and irrelevant pictures, freeing up valuable space on your computer or cloud storage.
Try online games
You can also try playing online games with your kids or let them play with their friends online. However, keep a close eye on the kind of games and activities they choose to play online.
Let your kids help with the household chores
Household chores are yet another activity, aside from games, you can engage with your kids. Teach them or ask them to give you a hand with the chores and make it interesting. They can help prepare their favorite meal, help set the table, and help clean the house by dusting the furniture. They can also help with washing or folding the laundry. Some kids love it when they do something that their parents encourage or ask them to do. So, give it a try!
Help your kiddos cultivate their talents
It is true that every dark cloud has a silver lining. Even during a pandemic, your kids’ talent can be improved. You can take advantage of the situation and find ways of improving or even discovering your child’s talent. For example, if your child is an aspiring artist encourage the artist in him or her by buying color books, pencils, and crayons. You could also go the extra mile by visiting reputable art galleries online and explaining what each photo symbolizes, where and when the painting was made, and what inspired the artist to produce that particular painting.
It is ok to indulge yourself in hard times. Researches show that doing something pleasant for yourself can be very therapeutic, and it’s a great way to stay happy and healthy during a pandemic. So if you are stuck at home anyway, take some time every day to pamper yourself. It does not even have to be anything fancy; simple things like taking a bubble bath, surrounding yourself with scented candles, and meditating can be just what the doctor ordered.
Plan a vacation!
Just because you can’t leave the country doesn’t mean you can’t plan a vacation. This simple activity can give you joy and hope. Start planning for your future getaways; Research on possible destinations and activities which you could do at that destination. The positive feeling that comes from planning the next event can be beneficial in avoiding the feelings of doom, which often accompany a pandemic lockdown.
Learn a new language
While you’re planning your vacation, start trying to learn the dialect of the place you want to visit. Learning a new language is a fun activity to engage every member of the family. Since it is a new language, everyone will be on par and can start together. Just agree on the language and get it going. There are so many learning apps and free online tutorials available that you cannot miss this opportunity!
7. Improve yourself
When you are stuck at home, you could use that time to improve yourself. Learn a new skill that will help you get ahead when you eventually return to the world. Educating yourself will remove the unhealthy feeling of being “stuck” and replace it with feelings of finding a new purpose.
Take a new course to learn new skills or to improve existing skills
During the pandemic lockdown, you can use some of the extra time to educate yourself by learning new skills or by enhancing some of your current skills. Improving yourself can be very useful in getting ahead after the pandemic when things go back to normal. It is also a perfect way to block out crazy thoughts and feelings of doom that invade the mind during a time of isolation.
8. Help others
Being helpful to other people while you are stuck at home can do wonders for your mental health. There are many ways of helping other people that you can try. One example would be to help older people do online shopping. Another example would be to take some time to listen to other people’s problems (although not too much to avoid being depressed yourself). You can dispense services directly linked to your profession, which can also help you stay fresh and sharp for when you eventually return to your work.
Check-in with loved ones via texts and video calls
Check on your friends and family regularly. With video is best! Letting them know you care helps you, but it also helps them. We all need to maintain a feeling of connection to stay mentally healthy right now. Maintaining at least virtual contact will significantly reduce stress levels as well.
9. Keep your immune system strong
Boosting your immune system is critical if you want to stay happy and healthy during a pandemic. Here are several ways to boost your immune system right now:
Eat nutrient-rich foods.
Nutrient-rich foods such as beans or lentils, whole wheat foods, and foods high in fiber should be on your grocery list. The best thing about such foods is that they can be prepared in various ways and they can be mixed with other foods. You not only enjoy your meal, but you get the complete nutritional benefits as well.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of high-nutrient foods that will keep you healthy during a pandemic. There are many concerns that may arise when it comes to the best ways of consuming your fruits and vegetables, such as safe ways of washing and preparing them.
Nonetheless, this is not something that you need to worry too much about. Experts say that there is no need to panic. Continue washing your fruits and vegetables the same way you always do. There is no need for using sanitizers to wash your fruits and vegetables like most people assume.
Drinking lots of water will keep your body hydrated and will drain any accumulatio of bacteria or viruses in your mouth or throat. Avoid drinking sugared or soda drinks- the sugar will only contribute to dehydrating your body.
Maintain a good hygiene
Washing your hands thoroughly or staying clean is a great way of ensuring perfect health. You are advised to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap or using an alcohol-based sanitizer. Staying clean also involves focusing on keeping your house clean and getting rid of clutter. Make sure you emphasize cleanliness to your kids and help them clean up. Let them tidy up their rooms and arrange their toys every night before going to bed.
Avoid physical contact or touching your face
Health professionals advise that you should avoid touching your face during an infection outbreak. This is because touching your face can lead to major infections or the spread of viruses and bacteria which can affect your immune system. Minimize contact with others as well to prevent risks of contamination.
Get quality sleep
Amid the constant negative news around, people tend to stay awake, worrying or watching the development of the pandemic. Remember that sleep is essential to help the body restore and regenerate itself. So try to sleep at a decent time with at least 7 hours of good quality sleep. You will wake up feeling rested and to face the challenging day.
Natural supplements have proved time and time again to be effective in boosting the immune system. Natural supplements like ginger, essential oils, lavender, coriander and more have proven healing and immunity-boosting properties. Vitamins also help to supplement the body’s daily vitamins and minerals intake and prevent you from easily catching an infection and falling ill.
We will get through this
Stay informed, but also take care of yourselves. We will get through this and hopefully come out stronger and wiser on the other side. I’m praying for the world, and it is my hope that these ideas to stay happy and healthy during a pandemic are helpful to you. If you like this post, please do me a favor and share it. Until next time my bloggy friends. Much love to all of you.
Thanks to the Straz Center, I received complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to “Aladdin The Musical”. This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
I love the Disney classic movie Aladdin. I have for as long as I can remember. Who can forget the iconic Robin Williams playing the role of Genie, and stealing the show? It came out when I was 8 years old, and I remember wearing that VHS tape out watching it so many times while growing up. Remember those?!? VHS tapes. Ha, now, I feel old!
I learned all the lines, and know every song by heart. And I would annoy my mom singing the tunes at the top of my lungs. I can almost hear her saying, “Ashley, are you going to say every line out loud, or are you going to let me hear the characters say them?” I was obsessed.
Then, when they brought the cartoon to life with the hit feature starring Will Smith earlier this year, I fell in love with the story all over again as an adult. I guess you could say I’m a sucker for a rags to riches story! And, the Genie? HELLO! Will Smith did a phenomenal job in the role.
From the moment I learned about Aladdin The Musical reviews started to pop up in my social media feeds about that sang its praises. As soon as I heard it was coming to Straz Center in Tampa, I put it on my Tampa Broadway Bucket List! I just HAD to see it! So you can imagine my excitement when I was granted my wish of seeing the show right here in my own back yard. Read on to learn what I thought about the live musical version of one of my favorite stories…
Aladdin The Musical – What Straz Said About It
Discover a whole new world at Disney’s ALADDIN, the hit Broadway musical.
From the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of ALADDIN, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite.
See why audiences and critics agree, ALADDIN is “Exactly What You Wish For!” (NBC-TV).
Aladdin The Musical – My Review – (Warning! Spoilers ahead!)
Now, in my defense, if this review really has spoilers, clearly you’ve been living under a rock because how can you NOT know the story of Aladdin?!? Then again, I guess there are some differences between the films and the play. But, I digress… Alright, now – guess what I thought of the show tonight? Yep, you’re right! I LOVED IT!
I loved it so much I rushed home to write this review to share with all of you that I think everyone should see it. It was such a wonderful date night for me! Don’t tell anyone, but I even shed a tear or two from how much I adored watching the play.
From the opening number to the very last beat, I was tapping my toes, and singing along to every song that I knew. #sorrynotsorry (I at least tried to sing them as low as possible as to not annoy the other theatergoers. I think my mom would be proud that I didn’t sing too loud this time ha!) I was excited to hear new songs, but I was incredibly grateful that all of my favorites were in the score.
The show opens with the song Arabian Nights. And, the costumes were just as exciting and colorful as I hoped they would be. We meet the Genie for the first time in the first number, and then Aladdin, and later Princess Jasmine. All of my favorite characters (less a monkey) were in the show. Though I missed Abu, I appreciated that for the most part the musical stayed true to the story I first fell in love with.
There were some obvious tweaks here in there because, well, you can’t exactly include everything from the cartoon or even the full feature film in a live stage show. But, they came darn close while still capturing the magic and amazement of both films in my opinion.
Can we just talk about those sets for a moment?!? They absolutely took my breath away. This was especially true for the Cave of Wonders set. WOW! WOW! WOW! The gold, the shimmer, the pyrotechnics! It was just incredible. All of the sets were wonderful, but that Cave of Wonders was the highlight I wasn’t expecting. But I was there for it!
One thing that really tickled my fancy was all the magic and humor they added to the play. It was so much fun. Aladdin disappears and then reappears in one illusion, there are wardrobe changes that happen in the blink of an eye, and flowers appear out of what felt like thin air. It was just non-stop entertainment that dazzled and delighted me in a way I can’t even explain.
And, of course, the Genie steals the show in this production too! They could not have picked a better actor to portray him! He was soooooo good. And I laughed my face off.
Seriously, this show is great for the whole family and I highly recommend it! It’s perfect that it’s here during the holidays because it truly felt like Christmas as I watched this fun play tonight. I would definitely watch it again, and I sincerely hope I get to someday once more very soon!
Aladdin is playing at The Straz Center now through January 5, 2020. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!
Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center, I received complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to “Fiddler on the Roof”. This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
I’ve had a bucket list of shows I’ve wanted to see on Broadway, or even on tour, for years. Fiddler on the Roof was certainly one of them. So, when I learned that I had the chance to watch it, I couldn’t wait. I had a yummy burger at the cafe on the water at Straz, and then settled into my seat honestly not knowing what to expect. All I really knew is that everyone I knew that had seen it said it was amazing.
In fact, one of the women in line with me, as I ordered my burger, said it would be her fifth time watching the show that night. WOW! Before we dive into my thoughts, here’s what Straz posted about Fiddler:
Fiddler on the Roof – What Straz Said About It
Audiences across North America are toasting a new production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF!
Rich with musical hits you know and love, including “Tradition,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “To Life (L’Chaim!),” FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is the heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and life, love and laughter.
Tony®-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. Featuring a talented cast, lavish orchestra and stunning movement and dance from Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF will introduce a new generation to the uplifting celebration that raises its cup to joy!
To love! To life!
Fiddler on the Roof – My Review – (Warning! Spoilers ahead!)
The thing that struck me the most in watching the play, was how many of the songs were familiar and yet I never knew why. For example, Matchmaker –
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a match, Find me a find, catch me a catch Matchmaker, Matchmaker Look through your book, And make me a perfect match (Lyrics source)
Growing up, I’d heard this song a few times. I didn’t know where it was from. Or this one –
Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? … Sunrise, sunset Sunrise, sunset Swiftly flow the days (Lyrics source)
And finally, one that I knew the tune, but didn’t know the original words…
If I were a rich man, Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum. All day long I’d biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man. I wouldn’t have to work hard. Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. If I were a biddy biddy rich, Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man. (Lyrics source)
Admittedly, the reason I knew the tune for this song is because of Gwen Stefani’s “If I Was A Rich Girl”
Sure, the song is not the same, but the tune is very similar, and hearing the origin of this bop was certainly entertaining to me. Have you ever wondered where songs come from? I certainly have, and it often fascinates me to learn the inspiration for some of my generation’s biggest hits.
I can honestly say, my favorite thing about the entire play was the music. I loved the songs more than anything. I am obsessed with music, and truly feel that it can make or break a play, or movie. Just me?
I also could genuinely feel the feelings the people playing these characters were exuding. You could feel the nerves of the father, Tevye, when he decided to let his two oldest daughters marry for love instead of money. You could feel the pain as he cast aside his third oldest for marrying outside of his faith. You could even feel his anger when things seemed to be going awry and the God he was praying to was not granting him a reprieve.
If nothing else, this play will make you grateful for everything you have. It will also make you appreciate your family, and the freedoms that you have. Dare I say it might even give you some insight to win family members don’t understand children making untraditional choices.
Overall, I felt the play was acted out very well, and the music was phenomenal. Though the storyline itself absolutely broke my heart into a million pieces, I think that was the point. You were supposed to feel upset at these people living poor lives, and ultimately being removed from their homes at the end. After all, change can’t happen unless people feel something is wrong. And you sometimes have to put it right in their face to let them see the truth.
I’m grateful for the fact I can say I’ve finally seen Fiddler on the Roof, and can cross that one off my musical bucket list. Luckily, the list is growing so I still have plenty more shows I can’t wait to see. I’ll have to share a post soon of all the shows I still want to see. The one on the top of my mind right now is coming to Straz next month – Aladdin. Dying to see that one y’all!
Until next time, I just want to say thanks for reading. I’m the luckiest girl in the world that I get to do what I love for a living. And, may we all continue to enjoy our lives, and the freedom to make things better if we want to.
Fiddler on the Roof is playing at The Straz Center now through November 10, 2019. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!
FTC Disclaimer: Huge thanks to Ottomanson for sponsoring this post. And, this post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE me some nice area rugs. They are great for adding a pop of color to your space, and they can completely transform a room. If you are thinking about getting area rugs for your home, below are three important things you should consider before making your purchase.
Consider the Best Size for Your Space
How big should your area rugs be? As Wayfair explains, when it comes to a piece like this, bigger is usually better.
They said, “A few inches can make all the difference between the rug pulling the room together or making it feel disjointed. Opting for the larger option, especially if you’re choosing between sizes, will prove that it is worth the extra expense every time.”
Ottomanson said your area rugs “should be large enough to fit under your major furniture in the room. If that would be way too expensive for you, it should at least be able to fit your key upholstered pieces.
Color goes beyond just the paint on your walls and colors of your furniture. You’ll want to also factor in your artwork that is on the walls, any pillows or fabrics you’ve used, and any accessories that are in the room as well.
Some design websites recommend choosing solid color rugs if you have a lot of other colors and patterns in the decor of the room you’re purchasing area rugs for. By choosing a solid color or a rug with less colors, it will be easier to tie the room together without it feeling “too busy.”
On the other hand, if most of your colors are neutral, choosing a rug with multiple colors can be a nice focal piece for the room. For example, the floral print rug above is in a living room with white furniture, and neutral colored walls. This rug with all the colors fits well in this space, and becomes a work of art for it as well.
Unfortunately, You’ll Need to Factor in Cost Too
Cost is often the deciding factor for folks trying to decide which area rugs are the best for their home. I understand this, believe me. It’s sometimes hard to justify a big purchase for a piece of home decor.
What I would recommend is to purchase the smaller rugs for the smaller rooms first. It’s no secret that smaller rugs usually come with lower price tags. In fact, your entire decor budget for a smaller room is likely to be much lower than your larger rooms. So why not tackle those first, and save the bigger rooms and bigger expenses for later.
After all, there is no rule that states you have to buy everything to fill your entire house all at once. You’re allowed to let your home’s decor be a work in progress. Take your time so that you can save up the money for the pieces that cost a little more.
I personally feel like decorating your home slowly over time is the better way to go because not only will it ensure that you get the pieces you really want, you’ll have time to change your mind. I change my mind all the time before I’m ready to commit to how I want to decorate! Can you relate?
Speaking of changing your mind – I want to revisit color for just a moment. Solid colored rugs tend to be cheaper. And, another benefit of choosing solid colored area rugs is that they will most likely match more than one room in your home. Let’s say you have changed your mind, and you no longer want a rug in your bedroom. Suppose the one you bought for the bedroom matches the colors in your living room. You can easily move it from your bedroom to your living room. No added costs, and it still can be used!
For me, I personally like trying to keep a lot of the colors in my home in the same palette for this reason. I can move things around without spending any extra money anytime I get bored with the space and want a change.
Caring for Your Area Rugs
It’s important to read about the materials and maintenance of your area rugs prior to purchase. Some area rugs can be vacuumed and others should not be. Some can be deep cleaned with carpet cleaners, and others should only be cleaned by professionals. You want to care for them regularly and properly so you can extend the life of them.
When you’re ready to buy area rugs for your home, check out Ottomanson Rugs. You can find Ottomanson area rugs in the following retailers:
Ottomanson was established in 2007. Today, it has become one of the leading wholesalers of area rugs in the United States, particularly the Tri-State Area due to their experience in the rug business, efficiency in production, and competitive prices. Ottomanson offers a large variety of high-quality heat-set, BCF, and printed area rugs in traditional to fashionable contemporary designs available in a wide array of colors.
Founded with the aspiration to embellish indoor and outdoor spaces applying a distinct taste and touch while adhering to current trends and worthy customer demands, Ottomanson Inc. combines years of knowledge and experience within the home décor industry to best serve this aspiration. Always bearing function and fashion in mind as well as offering premium quality for a broad range of budgets, Ottomanson has reached a large scope of product line in home décor including area rugs, runner rugs, kids’ rugs, indoor/outdoor rugs, printed rugs, grass rugs, doormats, stair treads, chair mats, towels, blankets and tablecloth. We take pride in our manufacturing, retailing, logistics and warehousing competencies which flourished from a modest business expanding to international growth and advanced customer service. Ottomanson’s mission is to further augment these competencies with the help of its professional and passionate administrative and operational staff in order to fully serve its commitment to high-quality standards and contemporary customer demands.
FTC Disclaimer: Huge thanks to Zap Cleaning for sponsoring this post. And, this post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
I’ve been becoming pretty obsessed lately with outsourcing all the things. Though I’m still not outsourcing as many things as I would like to, I’ve been enjoying handing tasks off to others so that I can focus on things that can either move my business forward, or that give me more time off to enjoy with my family and friends. One thing you can outsource that kind of surprised me is residential pressure washing.
I knew you could outsource laundry, cleaning services, lawn care, and even grocery shopping – but pressure washing? Though it honestly didn’t surprise me, the ability to outsource residential pressure washing was news to me. I thought that only big commercial companies could do something like that.
When I was growing up, I remember my dad rented a pressure washer at one point. Then, because he felt we needed one, he spent hundreds of dollars to buy a pressure washer of his own.
The problem with buying your own pressure washer is that not only do you have to shell out several hundred dollars upfront, you also need to know how to use it, and then have a place to store it. I recall several times where he nearly took the paint off the walls because he didn’t know how to properly use his pressure washer.
He’d spend the entire day reading the instructions, and then working his tail off cleaning the entire house. Especially the pool deck! Man, I can picture him outside putting in so much effort to clean the deck, and then having to go back over his work again because he missed so many spots trying to hold the hose steady.
And, I also remember him having to build a custom storage unit to house the pressure washer when it wasn’t in use. Sure, there was more than just that one item in there, but it seemed so silly to me that he had to house this product and many others that he only used once every six months or so.
To make matters worse though, some of the components rusted and wore out, and he ended up having to buy a new unit after a couple of years. I’m betting if he were around today, he would opt to outsource his residential pressure washing instead of having to buy and store such an expensive piece of equipment.
How Do You Outsource Your Residential Pressure Washing?
Here are the steps you’ll want to take to outsource your residential pressure washing for your home:
1. First, you need to find a company that does it in your area. If you’re in the Sarasota area, I recommend checking out ZAP Cleaning.
2. Find out what services they offer. For example, do they handle things like rust removal, roof cleaning, house washing, window cleaning, etc…?
3. Look up reviews on the company. You want to make sure that whoever you hire has a reputation for doing a good job. If you don’t hire someone that is professional, and that knows what they are doing, you could end up with a big mess on your hands.
For example, let’s say you hire a pressure washing company that isn’t as skilled as they should be to clean your roof. The company comes over to do the job, but doesn’t use care while cleaning and they damage your roof. Now, not only do you need to repair the damage, you still need the roof cleaned!
4. Call the company, and ask them about pricing, scheduling, and all the details you need for them to do the job you need done.
5. Hire them for the job, and then sit back and relax while they do the heavy lifting.
Your house will look like new, and you will barely have lifted a finger. Doesn’t that sound so much better than spending all that time and money trying to do it yourself? You might want to check out cleaning businesses like a dfw power washing company and see if they can help with residential cleaning as well as business area cleaning, you never know until you try!
Why Hire ZAP Cleaning for Your Residential Pressure Washing?
At ZAP Cleaning, their goal is for their customers to be extremely satisfied. Because of this, top-notch customer service is their number one priority. The areas they serve in Florida include: Sarasota, Vamo, Venice, Laurel, Nokomis, Southgate, North Sarasota, Bee ridge, Osprey, South Venice, Sarasota Springs, Venice Gardens, and Siesta Key.
However, they sometimes service other areas. So give them a call for more information if you’re close to, but not quite in the Sarasota area.
ZAP Cleaning’s services include a variety of exterior house cleaning options. Some of these are pressure washing, window cleaning, roof cleaning, and other home exterior cleaning. If there is an outdoor cleaning service that they don’t offer, however, they encourage you to call them to see if they can complete those tasks for you! To learn more about ZAP Cleaning, call them at (941) 404-0423. Or visit their website at https://zap-cleaning.com/.
I have always wanted my own indoor herb garden, but to be honest, I have a black thumb. True story. Any time that I have brought a plant into my apartment, it doesn’t stay long before it withers and dies. But, thanks to the following guest post from Francesca Singer and Lawn Starter, I might just try my hand once more at growing an indoor garden of my own. Check it out below.
How to Make Your Own Indoor Herb Garden
Who needs a spice cabinet when you can grow herbs and spices in your kitchen? Growing edible herbs makes it easier to grab a seasoning while you’re cooking. Here are some tips on how to make your own indoor herb garden.
Find a Sunny Spot
Most herbs do best in full sunlight. A place in front of the kitchen window (preferably facing south) is perfect for giving them six to eight hours of direct sun. Don’t have a windowsill? No problem. Just place a pole near the window and use hanging planters.
You may need to move the planters during a frost since most herbs thrive when the temperature is between 65 and 70 degrees.
Use Potting Soil
There’s a difference between potting soil and dirt. The right mix will contain vermiculite and fertilizer, giving your plants the moisture and nutrients they need. Dirt from your garden may hold onto too much water and outdoor pests — the last thing you want in your kitchen! Make sure your containers have small holes in the bottom (or put gravel in the bottom), so the soil can drain.
What to Plant
Your herbs will add flavor to all your dishes. Some also have medicinal qualities and can save you a trip to the drugstore.
Mint will add flavor to your tea, dessert, and even meat dishes. It’s also soothing and helpful with relieving indigestion and gas. Mint is easy to grow in the kitchen, and flourishes in moist soil and indirect sunlight. Pick the leaves and chop into your salad or marinade. Peppermint can also freshen your breath.
This fast-growing herb is great in tomato sauce, pesto, in salads or sprinkled over tomatoes. Pick a few leaves at a time, and tear them instead of chopping to get the most flavor.
What’s a baked potato without sour cream and a few chives? You can also chop these up to use in salads and sauces. You’ll get the taste of onions with a little greenery in your dishes.
Known for its mellowing properties, German chamomile is well-suited to growing in a pot, provided the container is at least twelve inches across. This soothing herb loves low-key lighting and will do best in a north or east-facing window. Harvest the flowers and use fresh or dried to brew up a calming tea.
This pungent herb is best known for its seeds, but grown fresh it has many many uses. You can serve it raw in salads, chutney, or pickles, cooked in rice, or made into a tea. It’s also an effective cure for bad breath, and its leaves pureed into a paste and applied to the scalp are a cure for dandruff.
Pungent and cooling, lemon balm is an antiviral herb that can also be crushed and applied to cold sores to heal them or rubbed on the skin to repel insects. It adds a lemony flavor to tea and can help with anxiety. It’s also a tasty addition to salads or can be used to brighten up fish and seafood dishes.
Also known as cilantro, this herb is a traditional spice in many regions. The leaves and seeds are also good for treating digestive disorders and stimulating one’s appetite. Pinching and removing the leaves encourages growth and guarantees some spice in your favorite dishes.
Tulsi ‘Holy Green Basil’
The most revered of all Indian herbs and often called “the elixir of life.” It’s used for both repelling insects and treating insect bites, regulating stress, and encouraging healthy gums and teeth. You can also eat it in salads or chew on it as a snack.
The same plant that most people have in the garden or potted indoors is a powerful healer. Aloe heals sunburns, rejuvenates the skin, and aids in digestion. The plant is easy to grow and to use. Remove a leaf and peel away the green skin and rinse thoroughly before ingesting, or slice open a leaf and generously apply to the skin.
You don’t need a green thumb or a lot of space to create your own indoor herb garden. But you may need a little patience. Some seedlings such as parsley and oregano can take more than a month to mature. Once they’re ready for the picking, you’ll be enjoying these herbs for years to come. Bon appetit!
Francesca Singer is a DIY enthusiast who designed an Ayurvedic herb garden for the American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas. When not writing or wrangling a toddler, she can be found wielding power tools or working in the garden.
While this Cran-Apple Chicken Salad Appetizer post is sponsored by Envy Apples in partnership with Publix Apron's Schools, all opinions are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links.
I LOVE apples. More specifically, I LOVE Envy Apples. That’s why when they reached out and asked me if I had any interest in creating another recipe for a sampling night at Publix Apron’s Schools, I jumped at the chance to do so. Last year in 2018, I shared my Granny Betty’s Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings. This year, instead of a dessert, I wanted to do an appetizer that could easily double as a quick lunch or after workout snack.
I chose to make a Cran-Apple Chicken Salad Appetizer on apple slices. While I often eat chicken salad on a croissant, or hamburger bun, I wanted to make this version low carb and gluten-free so that even if I’m trying to watch my diet, I can indulge in this delicious snack. Here’s how I made it:
Cran-Apple Chicken Salad Appetizer
– Approximately 1 1/2 cups of rotisserie chicken chopped (I pulled it right off of a Publix rotisserie chicken!)
– 1/4 cup celery chopped into small pieces (I used Dandy pre-washed celery because it has such a great crunch and I don’t have to cut or wash anything. It’s ready right out of the bag!)
– 1/3 cup of mayo*
– 1/3 cup of sour cream*
– 1/4 cup of dried cranberries chopped (I used Craisins)
– 1/4 cup of grapes sliced
– 2 or 3 medium sized apples (I used Envy Apples – highly recommend these because they don’t brown as fast as other brands)
-A handful of crushed walnuts (optional!)
1. Mix all ingredients except for the apples in a bowl
2. Salt and pepper to taste, mix again, and then chill your chicken salad mix in the fridge for about an hour
3. Wash and dry your apples
4. Cut thin slices of your apples. You want them just thick enough to hold something on them.
5. Lay the slices onto a serving platter
6. Scoop about 2 tbsp of chicken salad mix onto each one of the apple slices
7. Serve and enjoy!
*Recipe note: If you like your chicken salad a little drier, cut the mayo and sour cream back to 1/4 cup each.
This Cran-Apple Chicken Salad Appetizer is perfect for barbecues, baby showers, and all kinds of parties!
The weekend I made these we went to a Memorial Day weekend party and they were a hit! The cold chicken salad on a crisp apple slice was the perfect kickoff to a delicious barbecue. You can make a huge batch of these before any party.
If you won’t be serving them for a while you can soak your apples in a bath of Sprite before hand. Envy Apples already keep their color a long time, but the Sprite adds even more time before browning occurs.
Want to Try a Sample of this Cran-Apple Chicken Salad Appetizer?
If you attend the in-store event, you’ll be givin a special discount promotional code to their upcoming An Evening with EnvyTM Apple Demonstration class on September 28, 2019!
About the Envy Apples I Used in my Cran-Apple Chicken Salad Appetizer
Envy TM apples are premium apples with extraordinary crunch and texture and refreshingly sweet
Envy TM have naturally higher citric acid content which prevents the ‘browning’ enzyme from activating. This means they are VERY slow to brown, which makes them ideal for kid’s lunches, picnics, salads, charcuterie boards and party platters – they will look great for hours!
Envy TM is cross between Braeburn and Royal Gala. They are non-GMO and are grown naturally in Washington State and New Zealand.
Envy TM apples can be found nationwide at grocery stores including: Publix, Whole Foods, Walmart, Market 5 one 5, Central Market, Raley’s, King Soopers, IGA, Wegmans and more. For the store nearest you, visit envyapple.com and click on the