#Cinderellatour Quotes


I was so excited to receive tickets to the Straz Center‘s Tampa Bay Bloggers night of the Broadway touring production of Cinderella. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the show:

“You’d be surprised how many beautiful gowns have crazy women in them!”

She’s a frothy little bubble with a flimsy kind of charm, and with very little trouble I could break her little arm.”

“I get to ladle.”

“Fight for your dream!”

“I’ll be back at eleven with weather and sports.”

“Now you have someone to believe in – yourself!”

Cinderella also says something like… “People will say my name and know they can be better.”

There were a few political quips that made the audience laugh, but that’s not my thing.

I think I laughed loudest when Cinderella and the Prince kiss at their wedding (woops, spoiler) and a little girl in the audience shouted, “EWW!” loud enough to make at least 5 rows of audience members giggle. I bet the front rows were wondering what we were laughing about back there! I think I even sensed a pause on stage, because it was not a typical point for laughter and we may have thrown the cast for a loop…


I saw Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella when I was little with my Grandmother and Mother at the Muny in Forest Park, St. Louis. You can my R+H Cinderella history lesson here or in the Tampa Bay Times article here.

Cinderella is playing at the Straz Center through October 26. Performances are Wednesday – Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2 and 8pm and Sunday at 2 and 7:30pm. Regularly priced tickets are $56-$95 and may be purchased by calling 813-229-STAR or 800-955-1045, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at the Straz Center. Handling fees will apply.





10155237_10152280778595923_1189989691_nFor one of her college scholarship applications, my daughter has to pick something she is passionate about and make a project centered around it. Anything under the sun. And what does my daughter love more than most (except maybe her boyfriend, books and great food?) – Princesses!

My daughter longs to be a princess and always has. This anti-Cinderella culture saying girls are negatively affected by princess role models is getting her down. So she’s doing her project about why princesses are awesome. That’s all I can tell you until it is complete… but *spoiler* thank goodness we live so close to Disney!!

Just a couple weeks after she started pouring herself into this project, we were notified that the Straz Center had tickets available for members of Tampa Bay Bloggers to view the opening night and blog about the touring Broadway production of Cinderella.

cinderella_posterI knew a bit about this show already. I saw a stage production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella when I was little with my Grandmother and Mother at the Muny in Forest Park, St. Louis. (You know, where they hang out in Meet Me In St. Louis…) My grandmother had season tickets to the Muny for years, and I was often her date to age-appropriate shows. I love wigs, costumes, singing, dancing – everything that makes a great musical. I would share little mother-of-pearl opera glasses to see details up close, and can still hear the vendors calling, “Ice Cold Lemonade HERE!” Giant, noisy fans would come on during intermission to keep mosquitos away. And we’d always dress up fancy schmancy.

But this was NOT a touring Broadway Cinderella. Know how I know? Because 2013 was the first time the show actually appeared on Broadway. The songs were written for a 1957 TV movie starring Julie Andrews. In 1965 it was remade with Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella, and my mom must have seen one or the other because I remember her singing “Impossible” to me when I was little.

Then, when my daughters were little – back when we still had an operable VCR, we had the VHS of the 1997 Walt Disney telefilm of Rodgers and Hammerstein‘s Cinderella starring Brandy, Whitney Houston, Paolo Montalban, Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber and Jason Alexander. Phew! What a cast! That’s when the songs really got played in my head over and over. The version my daughters grew up with:

Many of the songs in this production are the same, but they’ve added more songs to add length to the show. Apparently they were written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, but yanked from other shows of theirs, like The King and I.

In summer 2013, my daughter was interning for the Ray’s Baseball marketing dept, and was asked to review the Carly Rae Jepsen concert following a baseball game. It was the first time she enjoyed Carly Rae Jepsen and thought of her as a true performer. Most people, however, remember the night for her horrible first pitch. Right after that it was announced that she would be Cinderella on Broadway opposite Fran Drescher as the wicked stepmother. After CRJ, Keke Palmer was the first African-American woman to play Cinderella on Broadway and the youngest actress to portray the part on Broadway - plus she was another actress my girls watched on TV growing up. She’s still playing the role now, if you plan to be NYC any time soon!

When I first heard about the CRJ Cinderella, they said it was modernized and had plot twists. And it was NOT just as you’d expect, but just like no one told ME what was going to happen, I certainly won’t tell you why everyone gasped at the end of Act One!!

The version from last night’s performance:

This lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping super-fast makeover transformations and all the moments you love—the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more; plus some surprising new plot twists – like the prince learning about democratic elections. See, pumkins…elections… it’s great timing to see this show!

Paige Faure was the dreaming and fiesty princess, and Andy Jones was Prince Topher. For me, he ALMOST stole the show. The only thing better was watching Cinderella’s dresses change right before your eyes in an instant, and the comedy of the new book (script). The audience laughed out loud quite a few times! (“You’d be surprised how many beautiful gowns have crazy women in them!”) You can get a good glimpse of the stars of the Straz performance here:


One thing that threw me off in the show… I knew the prince would sing, “Do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you?” But it seems so out of place in this new script. Cinderella is not about beauty this time around. She’s just helped him get through some political decision making, and coming back around to her dress and hair suddenly seems out of place. I want him to instead sing about being partners and how she has helped him grow into a man. But, alas, that is not what the great R+H wrote.

As a throw-back to seeing the show with my grandma, I borrowed opera glasses from the Straz for the production. Did you know they do that? They just ask for tips and hold your I.D. as collateral during the show. 

There were little girls in attendance in their dress-ups, and Alice got quite a hug from a total stranger – a 6 year old boy who thought she was cute, and there were adorable puppets, and just plain old good theatre. It was also so fun to sit with other Tampa Bay Bloggers! (Lora, Brad, Kellie, Xiomara and Denise not pictured.)


You too can be a Fairy Godmother! The Straz Center, Belle of the Ball Project and the company of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella are accepting donations of formal gowns, shoes and accessories (new or gently used) at the Straz Center during the performances of the Tony-award winning production. The partnership benefits Belle of the Ball Project, a nonprofit organization that provides homecoming and prom dresses to young women in need.

Alice brought her freshman homecoming dress to donate:


I wish they did that with a few of the tickets too… I hope radio stations have some giveaway contests for some little girls who might not otherwise be able to see something this lovely in the theatre.

Parents and Teachers: To help you with some talking points about the show, there is a teacher’s guide hereElla may have been given new dresses, but her newfound self confidence is the real makeover this story hits home with! Kindness is also a theme throughout the show.

*** SPOILER – you can read but don’t click ***

and if you’ve read this far, I have a surprise for you. The ball gown quick-change of Cinderella’s is so amazing, so crazy-fast, that I can’t ruin it by posting a video here. But if you have 7 seconds, watch this!! If you blink, you’ll miss it! (Here’s how it looks on stage!)

Cinderella is playing at the Straz Center through October 26. Performances are Wednesday – Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2 and 8pm and Sunday at 2 and 7:30pm. Regularly priced tickets are $56-$95 and may be purchased by calling 813-229-STAR or 800-955-1045, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at the Straz Center. Handling fees will apply.



Giving in to Hemptation

For the first time, Tijuana Flats is introducing limited-time menu items! And guess what they are made from… HEMP tortillas! My daughters couldn’t believe it. “They’re cooking with pot?” they asked. Well, hemp seed to be exact. “I guess the theme of the place is kind of good for stoners with the munchies,” my 17 year old stated about the look and feel of Tijuana Flats. She goes there with her boyfriend frequently for lunch dates.


My husband and I got to try the new Hemp items 2 days before they hit the menu at a special media event.


Monique from Tijuana flats marketing started out the night filling us in on the company and the history behind the limited menu items over their Trio – corn chips served with separate cups of salsa, guac and queso dips. And I also enjoyed a sangria with crushed ice – Carlo Rossi slushy Sangria, and we had beer and Woodbridge Chardonnay to choose from as well. I don’t think they’re adding wine to the menu – I think that was a special treat for us!

trio sangria meandb

Tijuana Flats started 20 yrs ago. The concept came from Brian Wheeler who was a student at UCF at the time. Camp Fitch joined soon thereafter. “Fitch came out of two retirements when he took on his current post as CEO and co-owner of Maitland-based Tijuana Flats Burrito Co., a Tex-Mex restaurant chain.” says this Biz Journal interview. Tijuana Flats #102 opens today in Gastonia.

Monique  introduced the PR people, servers, cooks, management, and most importantly the earth goddess Rachel, their tree hugging culinary chef.



Chef Rachel

Chef Rachel



My lovely date :)

My lovely date :)

Tijuana Flats had a contest, and all GMs sent in their ideas for hemp burrito flavors. Rachel’s idea was the Tree Hugger, one of the 3 chosen final menu items, and she was thrilled to introduce us to it. But first things first…

After crunching on the Trio, we were served an appetizer: atom bombs.

atombombsA lightly fried tortilla gets stuffed with cream cheese, shredded cheese, fresh jalapenos, Smack My Sweet Ass and Call Me Sally sauce, and sour cream. There were 6 pieces on our plate, each about the size of a standard egg roll. This retails for $4.49. The jalapenos were too much kick for Brian. “I don’t hold my peppers well,” he said. I loved the cheesy, gooiness of this. It’s not unlike a quesadilla, and you want to enjoy it quickly, while it’s hot and melty!

Next we were introduced to the three burritos made with hemp seed tortillas, high in protein and Omega-3s. Here’s a quick view of what’s in them if you don’t have time to finish reading:


The first was the pie roller, their answer to a Strombolli. It was a pizza burrito filled with pepperoni, fajita peppers, onions, mushrooms, red sauce and mozzarella cheese. Then it gets toasted and topped with red sauce, pepperoni and their power light cheese.

pizza pizza2

The pepperoni on the inside is sauteed with the peppers, onions and mushrooms, so all the flavors blend and everything is soft. With some sauce inside and more on top, this was a wet burrito with lots of flavor! I never had a pizza themed burrito before, and I liked the marriage of the 2 fun snacks!

Brian isn’t much for peppers for mushrooms, but he had a bite on the end that was “all pepperoni, and it’s awesome!” I told Chef Rachel that Brian doesn’t really like veggies very much. I asked if he’d be able to order this without mushrooms and peppers. She said patrons can ask to remove ingredients but not combine ingredients from other menu items with the hemp menu items. I went back to Tijuana Flats 7/16/14 and they told me they could not make this item without the peppers because they were all “premade”. “I could pick the peppers out of one for you,” a manager said. Eww, no thanks!

Next came the Tree Hugger burrito from Rachel, our chef. This vegetarian hemp burrito is stuffed with roasted poblano peppers, mushrooms, onions, scallions, cilantro cream cheese, crunched-up tortilla chips, cheese, and a drizzle of queso.


I learned two things while eating this yummy entree:

1) Rachel left the pablano skins on. I always peel mine. She said you don’t have to.

2) I got a few bites of plain hemp tortilla and I really noticed a flavor difference! I liked the kick in the hemp tortilla as compared to a plain flour tortilla. I’m guessing they use a blend of spices and it’s not just the hemp offering the flavor, but either way it was TASTY and I tried to get a few more plain bites around the edges.

Chicken and waffles is picking up down south as a fun treat, and Tijuana Flats wanted a tortilla that played with the same flavors. They now introduce the Sweet Hemptation!

sweethempThis delectable treat was a hemp tortilla filled with little balls of crispy fried chicken, and chunks of sweet chopped up churros, cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, queso, cheese – but then they added bacon and onions. You have the sweet, the savory, the fatty and the cinnamon – and it is just full of fun! I only wonder, could the churro bites be softer? Their crunch was a lot harder than expected.

For dessert we were served Banana Empanadas:
Two hand-held packages of fried doughy goodness stuffed with bananas, cinnamon, sugar, and topped with powdered sugar. Served with a side of caramel sauce. Yum, yum, yum. We brought some home to the kids.

banana banana-brian

Monique came around and asked what our favorite hemp burrito flavor was. I told her the Sweet Hemptation was great, but I’d never order it because of the food-guilt factor. I’d order a tree hugger though! I would possibly split the pie roller.

I was also lucky enough to win a jar of hot sauce while we were there!

winnerwinner winningsauce

We all got goodies like pens, koozies, kitchy glasses & mustaches, cups and $10 gift cards.


Really the only down side was our location. We were at their St Pete Roosevelt location, and we sat outside which looks pretty with lights strung and a pond with fountain within view, but I got eaten up by no-see-ums. The chairs are woven so they can nip you all over, and I have been itching for a whole week! Do yourself a favor and sit inside.

Tijuana Flats has a motto: When you come to Tijuana Flats, something inside will offend you, but it won’t be the food.

You’ll see “bad words” in the names of some of the sauces on their hot sauce bar, and some oddball art on the walls in a comic-meets-skater-style.

Remember, Hemptation menu items are only available for a limited time (thru early Sept.). Give in to hemptation while their hot!

My husband and I were treated to a free meal and take-away prizes. The opinions are my own. Everything was super yum.


Currently, July 2014

Current Book – In June I read “Into the Forest: A Novel” by Jean Hegland because I heard Ellen Page was going to make a movie out of it with Evan Rachel Wood. I give it a B. Maybe a B-. Very “Flowers in the Attic”. I was hoping for more. It did make me want to start my garden soon, though. I also finished reading “Banking on Burlesque“, which was like Pop Rocks for my brain. It’s written by a woman who was a banker in the UK and on the side for fun was occasionally a burlesque dancer, about a woman who was a banker in the UK and on the side for fun was occasionally a burlesque dancer. It’s fluff, but she expands to much on the work scenes and work drama than she needs to. You might want to just eat the Pop Rocks instead.

Current Shame-Inducing, Guilty Pleasure – apparently it’s still sugar because my clothes are getting tight. I’m getting it under control starting yesterday!! Had quite a power yoga class this morning – phew!

Current Drink – water

Current Favorite Blog – http://dadscribe.com. Because I think I O.D.’ed on mom blogs for a couple years, why not try reading a dad blog?

Current Song – Pharrell Williams – Happy (I still like to start my work day with the Official Music Video)

Current Wish-List – A housekeeper. And to find the manicure gift card that I misplaced when I moved.

Current Needs – I’m content right now…

Current Triumph – Started my new job in my new office with fun people, a great attitude, and support from my family and friends.

Current Indulgence – Lots of time with my daughters… except right now as I’m typing instead of watching “Full House” reruns with them.

Current Outfit – Ed Hardy jammies and new leopard print slippers that I got SO ON SALE at Bealls!

Current Banes of My Existence – I dreamed twice recently about fighting with DD2 and slapping her :(   I don’t slap! Also, I had to lay concrete with my husband a few weekends ago and I know another slab is coming soon! Wheelbarrows and I don’t do well together.

Current Excitement – My cute new purse that I bought with birthday money from my mom. It’s polka-dotted on the inside :)

Current Mood – excited to learn a few new techie tricks with this new job!


Ready for Roux?

In the past, I have sung the praises of meals at Datz. Owners Suzanne and Roger Perry know what they are doing! With food, drink, business… and they’ve expanded their enterprise to include Dough for (mainly) desserts, Dazzle for catering, and the soon-to-open Roux, for a taste of NOLA right here in Tampa. (NOLA = New Orleans, Louisiana)

But that’s not all they handle… Roux is not even open yet and already has almost 10,000 likes on Facebook. How? Their social media company, Chat. (Notice the Chat logo looks just like the Datz & Dazzle logos.)

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along with fellow Tampa Bay Bloggers to a Roux tasting. I had followed their progress with the new space online for months, and was thrilled to get a sneak peek! I was hoping for gumbo, something made with cornmeal, and a fun dessert.




When I entered the Roux space I loved the blend of reclaimed brick, vintage gas lighting (some repurposed to be electric) and graceful wrought iron details. They plan to complete the experience with “dark-wood accents and sumptuous fabrics.” Personally, I love the tiled ceiling. (Is it copper?)


Roux promises to be a casual, friendly spot for a quick NOLA-style lunch: muffuletta, gumbo, po’ boys – honoring the Cajun and Creole flavors of Louisiana with a modern twist and local flair.

Then at night, Roux will be more of a white linen scene, which is what we had for our special evening.

Our tasting kicked off with a bar serving specialty NOLA potent potables. For those who like light and sweet, there was the French 75: gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne. The champagne was the dominant taste with a bit of lemonade flavor.

drinkssaz-useThe more daring drinker can enjoy the Sazerac – the oldest known American cocktail with roots in New Orleans before the Civil War. The blend of absinthe, rye, creole bitters and sugar is served neat with a twist. (I think I had 3 sips, but I am a lightweight and wanted to remember the fine details of my meal.)

We were seated to an awaiting salad of smoked shitake mushrooms over bitter greens with satsuma (mandarin orange flavor) vinaigrette. The mushrooms were meaty and flavorful, while the salty dressing paired perfectly with the sweet sauteed onions. I tried to get a few bites that had a little bit of each taste in them.


I could have enjoyed the whole salad and a fun dessert and called it a night, but I knew we had more yet to come and saved tummy space.

springrollsOur next course was Vietnamese smoked duck spring rolls with mayhaw gastrique. Suzanne came to our table and gave a brief NOLA foodie histoire. Cajun culture moved in from the country to slowly become part of mainstay NOLA culture and blended with the already-present creole. That was before I was born… Then in the ’90s, similarly, Vietnamese culture and food began blending in. Suzanne calls NOLA restaurants “schizophrenic” for this reason. (During the months following Hurricane Katrina, the Vietnamese American community in New Orleans was among the first to return to the city.)

Thus, Vietnamese duck spring rolls make sense at Roux. They didn’t skimp in the duck (which I love!) and they had a great crispy, crunch to the outer wrapper. I didn’t try the sauce because our server said Mayhaw is related to squash, and I can’t eat eggplant or zucchini, so the risk scared me away.

Our next dish was divine: Cajun duck and andouille sausage gumbo with wild pecan rice and duck cracklings. True gumbo, the official dish of LA, combines cuisine of West African, French, Spanish German and Choctaw cultures. The blend of flavors in the gumbo at Roux was such that I couldn’t pick out or guess anything in particular. It just blended in deliciousness. Again, we had chunks of duck, and halved slices of andouille in a dirty gravy with some heat.


Don’t worry nut allergy peeps – pecan rice doesn’t even have any nuts in it. Sometimes it is rice with bran left in so it tastes like pecans without having pecans in it, but when it’s done right it’s a a hybrid variety of Della rice with a distinctive aroma similar to popcorn and a flavor that provides a rich nutty taste. And, surprise, it’s indigenous to Louisiana. “I don’t even like rice and this is good!” was Alice’s testament to the yumminess.


We were then treated to jumbo lump crab beignets with house-made creole cream cheese and saffron remoulade. Golf-ball sized crab balls were lightly and served on a plate drizzled with remoulade.

Up close you can see the beignets batter fluffiness

Up close you can see the beignet batter fluffiness

Don’t let the color fool you, this is no thousand-island dressing crap. Up until now, creole cream cheese could only be found in Louisiana, but Roux brings it to Tampa. Here it is flavored with saffron to create a condiment you won’t want to stop dipping in.

The next course stunned a few of us – New Orleans’ famous head-on BBQ shrimp with grilled french bread. Now I’ve peeled a shrimp, but we needed a lesson from Suzanne on how to eat these shrimp. But not Alice! “I just got 100% on this in my science dissection class. Just grab it by the cephalothorax and pull up.” She took care of 3-4 shrimp for herself and one for me (I did another one just to feel brave for a moment).

Can't take these 2 anywhere...

Can’t take these 2 anywhere…

Basically you rip the head off then the tail, then dip the shrimp in the sauce. the shrimp were easily 5″ long, and the staff was apologizing that they were not larger. “The prawns coming later will be even bigger!” we were assured.

The next course was my favorite: sauteed red snapper in Maker’s Mark pecan brown butter and sweet potato hash. The hash was diced sweet potato with onions and peppers. The snapper on top was crispy and sprinkled with great flavor. The Maker’s Mark pecan brown butter left a buttery flavor on everything.


Our eyes grew wide as the colossal wild prawns stuffed with shrimp & crab came our way. They were indeed colossal! About the length of Alice’s forearm, and she’s 5’7″. Katie named hers Al.


The head of each prawn was resting atop what I thought might be a crab cake. Alice took a bite. “I think it’s potato.” I didn’t buy that. I took a bite just as Suzanne came over to tell us it was a grits and Creole cream cheese cake. The grits were white and dotted with creamy goodness. I didn’t dig into my prawn and eat it all – the way some friends of mine surely would, but I certainly enjoyed the center, already cut open and overflowing with finely chopped shrimp and crab. The sauce on the plate was red and chunky and delicious. Our server thought it was tomatillo.

Our tummies got a break momentarily as Roger Perry told us more about the restaurant and what they have planned.

“We’re all excited about the menu!” he emphasized for the group. “And the wood-burning grill for wood steaks and chops.” They are even bringing down a NOLA expert to educate everyone on char grilled oysters.


Along with our meal(s), we had been drinking Brancott Estate Flight Song Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, with hints of pink grapefruit and passionfruit that I tasted immediately. (Their website has a cute, chalkboard feel. You should click!) But for dessert we were treated to cafe au lait made from Community chickory coffee. Community is the largest family-owned retail coffee brand in the U.S. “Experience a little bit of Louisiana in every cup,” they say.

Dessert was torched baked Alaska made with creole cream cheese ice cream. I’ve never had baked Alaska, but knew it existed since 1982 from the movie “Annie”. I remember once thinking that I didn’t even know what it really was, and Googled it, so I was prepared for something with apples… but not this! A dense wafer base topped with creole cream cheese ice cream surrounding a dollop of apple cinnamon goodness. Then the server torched the topping at our table, browning the cloud of white fluff on top. It was fun and yum, and left a sugary scent of s’mores over the table.



Little did we diners know, that back in the kitchen Roux was experiencing the WORST. Earlier that day, the gas went out and the whole night they were cooking on butane burners and small fryers. “The kitchen looks like we’re camping!” Suzanne said. Katie laughed and said, “If the food were like this every time I went camping, I’d camp more often.” Seriously, except for perhaps the extra crisp on the edges of the snapper or odd consistency of the sweet potatoes, we never would have known anything was going on in the kitchen! We had gourmet course after course prepared on camping stoves and we were still wowed! That’s how great this team is!

When Roux opens, I could totally see myself sipping at the bar, Toula’s, with my husband. The bar will be made of Carrara marble, like antique French Quarter bars. “We hope to have a sexy absinthe room in back,” an employee said that night. “And a tasting space for Dazzle, our catering arm.”

Dazzled we were! Who knew this hole in Tampa Bay cuisine existed? Now that I have the taste of NOLA on my pallet, I’ll certainly be back for more!