Alumni Love, Philanthropy and Allergies

Hi all!

Some fun stuff has been happening around here.

I got my hairs chopped off. I’ve had long hair for quite awhile, but with the already hot and humid days we’re experiencing here in FL I couldn’t stand to feel it on my shoulders anymore. So off it went! I love it though…I really needed a change!

This past weekend was Eckerd Alumni Reunion weekend! I didn’t officially register (just didn’t have the $$$) but I was on a planning committee for a few of them and got to go to those those since they were open and free. One being the EC Night Out at The Hurricane on St. Pete Beach. I took my friend/neighbor/coworker Ashley with me who’s also an EC alum and we had a great time. I’m not a fan of The Hurricane’s food so it’s been awhile since I’ve gone there. The event was on the rooftop bar, which I never knew they had. It was so beautiful up there! It was a bit windy, the roof shingles kind of shifted below your feet but the view was wonderful and the drinks cheap.

The next day I planned to do my first outdoor run in my 5K training (I’m a treadmill runner) but because of a late night and cheap wine I didn’t think I had time to drive downtown so I just went down to the gym. Then it was off to EC Beach Day at Ft. Desoto. It was an absolutely gorgeous day out…perfect for the beach. I only stayed an hour, but wish I had brought Jon and my swimsuit to stay and soak up the beautifulness. P.S. BBQ food is so wonderful after a good run ๐Ÿ™‚

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That same night I had a team bonding event for work atย a Lightning game. Once again I got to live it up in a suite which was fully catered with tons of yummy food, beer and wine.

Unfortunately, they lost, but it was a fun time all the same. After the game Ashley and I grabbed Jon and another work friend to keep the night going. We ended up at the new Wood Fired Pizza next to World of Beer downtown. I tried a few bites of the bianca pizza they got. The thin crust was really good. The pizza itself wasn’t too exciting, but I’d definitely give it another try. It’s pricey too! But they had a lot of cool sounding toppings including sirachi!

Sunday was a perfect day of relaxation that started with yoga at The Dali. It was a nice class with a great instructor. The atmosphere was neat, but since it’s not an actual yoga studio the space lackedย a bit of the peacefulness that normally comes with a studio. Like people walking in during class and the sound of the cafe kitchen in the background. Still a nice experience though.

After yoga, Lora and I went to brunch at Cassis. I had a bellini with the smoked slamon BLT, which I’ve gotten before and it was just as good if not better. Cassis is one of my fav brunch places. It’s consistent and the atmosphere is so bright, airy and casual.

I’m a new member of the St. Pete Young Professionals, which is a part of the St. Pete Chamber, and they had a First Annual Philanthropy Fair yesterday. I ended up being “that person” who wore jeans and everyone else was in business casual…oops. Luckily, I’m not easily embarassed ๐Ÿ™‚ What a great event though! As if I need another thing on my plate (I just want to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way). It was fun learning more about non-profits that I knew about and learning about ones I’d never heard about. I really do love volunteering. It makes you feel good while at the same time giving you added life/work experience.ย 

I did my first outdoor run on Tuesday, which actually went a lot better than I thought. 2.5 miles in 27:42 at a 11:13 pace. Not too shabby for someone who doesn’t run regularly right? I’m right about where I want to be. I know I’m not going to “win” the race. I just want the experience! Unfortunately, this week I’ve had post nasal drip, a scratchy throat and a hacking cough so that did not make my run fun. I went to a doctor yesterday though and found out I just have allergies. I never have allergies! Thanks loads of oak pollen flying around everywhere! I guess it’s really high this year so people who don’t even normally get allergies are getting them. Crazy.

Do you have really bad allergies right now? Do you like volunteering?

Labor Day

Hey friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Labor Day! I had today off, but The Chef had to work ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Before I get too far into today, though, let’s talk about this…

This my friends is Pho. From Pho Quyen, our new go-to Vietnamese place, where we had dinner Sunday night. I’ve had pho once or twice before, but was never really into it. The Chef loves it though. I normally get BBQ Beef on top of Vermicelli, which I love, but this time I really wanted soup. So I decided to join The Chef and ordered pho. Traditionally, you get pho with not only rare slices of beef, but also tendon and all sorts of errie sounding parts. While The Chef is all about this, I just had to go with the slices of beef only ๐Ÿ™‚ This was SO good. It’s really all in the broth. Such flavor! And the thai basil is really the most important mix-in. What I love most about these types of dishes is that you add all of your own additional flavors: soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin, chili paste, siracha…they all go in the pool at our table! I’m so glad I decided to try pho again because now I’m officially a fan.

After dinner we headed to a friend’s for game night. Board games that is! We played a mix of charades and pictionary. What entertainment! Lots of fun with fun people.

Today, my friend had another meetup with her Florida Frugalista’s meetup group. We had brunch at Cassis. It wa sorignally going to be at Red Mesa Cantina, but they ended up being closed ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Cassis was wonderful though. It is a bit overpriced, but I still really like the food.

I had the smoked salmon sandwich with bacon and dill sour cream.

Mmm…this was so good! It was huge! I like smoked salmon, but I can only take so much so I actually pulled a few pieces off. And they make their own bread, which takes this sandwich to a whole other level. My sandwich was accompanied by a glass of white sangria. Didn’t get to snap a photo, but it was pretty, light, fruity and yummy!

We had a group of 7 girls and had a great time getting to know one another. I’m really digging these meetups…everyone is so nice! We extended our time together a little more by going down the street to Paciugo for gelato. I actually wasn’t in the mood for gelato and decided on a mango and raspberry sorbet mixture, which was just what I wanted. So light and refreshing.

Once I got home I spent 2 hours cleaning the apartment and then went down to the gym for a run. I’ve been real bad with my work out routines for the past few weeks so I was determined to move today. Earlier in the day I did The Fitnessista’s Cardio Ab burner, so pairing it with an afternoon run made me feel so much better.

When The Chef got home from work (yes, poor thing had to work) I was hoping we’d use up the chicken that’s been sitting in the fridge. But he was tired and didn’t want to cook. We finally decided on picking up Thai, butour fav place was closed! We called one other place that was also closed and then gave up. After a few minutes of pondering The Chef jumped up and got to work on this…

Chicken Piccata! Perfect. I’ve been craving pasta and Italian lately so this was just what I needed.

We always try to make dinner special with candlelight ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s a rule we always turn off the TV and put on music instead. Usually only when we cook…takeout is another story ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know about you, but I could use another vacation day!

Conversation Starter: Do you dine in front of the TV or at the table?

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Birthdays are so underwhelming.

You spend at least a month (if you’re like me) thinking and trying to plan fun stuff to do. And then (if you’re also like me) you end up with no good ideas. Then the day comes and your happy and excited. You check your Facebook constantly to see who has wished you a “happy birthday”. You get friends together for food, drinks and go out to your favorite bar. But at the end of the day, it just seems like any other day. You don’t really ever feel “different” like you always expect to.

Not trying to bring it to bummer town, because I DID have a fantastic birthday…just some insight ๐Ÿ™‚

The weekend fun started on Thursday, where I celebrated my birthday dinner at KitchenBar, which you can read about here.

On Friday, my birthday was celebrated at work with my fav cake (yellow cake with chocolate icing). A co-worker also took me out to lunch. We had heard about Vida de Cafe for awhile and finally decided to try it. Vida de Cafe is a small vegan/raw cafe located on Pass-a-Grille. The service could have been better, but the girl who waited on us actually said she didn’t work there and was just helping out…?

I had the Vida de Salad, which was huge and topped with corn, pico de gallo, peppers and “meat”. Everything tasted wonderfully fresh and the colors were so pretty! Not sure what the “meat” was, but it tasted a bit nutty. It came with a chipotle creamy dressing. I don’t know what’s wrong with me…I don’t like chipotle, yet I always seem to order it in some shape or form…as if I’m trying to force myself to like it. It hasn’t worked yet. I would have preferred a more ranch type dressing.

Coincidentally an after work happy hour was also planned that day. Lucky me ๐Ÿ™‚ We all met up at Harry’s Beach Bar at Sirata, which I’ve never been to…pretty neat place! I had a glass (or cup) of Chardonnay. Snacks were ordered…Gorgonzola cheese and balsamic drizzled chips and every flatbread on the menu. I tried a small piece of the BBQ chicken, muffalatta and a veggie.

I left after an hour since I had a friend’s dinner party I had to attend. After a quick shower and change at home I was off. My friend was hosting a girl’s night in party with Pampered Chef.

I’ve never heard of Pampered Chef, but the party sure was fun. Low key and just what you need on a Friday night. My friend had put together and adorable spread of finger sandwiches, cheeses and bruschetta. Wine and Skinny Girl margaritas were also in attendance ๐Ÿ™‚ I enjoyed the Pampered Chef presentation, but didn’t end up buying anything. The Chef pretty much handles all kitchen purchases. Even though I was tempted to get a few things…adjustable measuring spoons? Genius!

Saturday (my actual birthday) was low key. The Chef took me to breakfast at Cassis. I’m in love with their andouille sausage and shrimp ragout, although it was not the best it has been on Saturday.

I also treated myself to an April in Paris drink. Elderflower liquor, Absolut pear vodka and champagne…delish.

After our meal we headed to Fresh Market so The Chef could stock up on supplies he needed to make for food for my party. I tried to help all day, but he insisted that I not lift a finger since it was my birthday. I finally convinced him to let me clean though ๐Ÿ™‚

My friend graciously hosted my party at her apartment complex’s common room, which is a great space and has its own kitchen.

The spread…

The Chef made sausage stuffed mushrooms, panzanella (inspired from KitchenBar), sundried tomato dip (at my request) and chicken satay with a peanut dipping sauce ย (also at my request).

My birthday cupcake ๐Ÿ™‚

Friends slowly trickled in and a good time was had by all as we just sat around, talked and enjoyed one another’s company. Eventually we had to clean up and head out of the common room. There was only one place I really wanted to go…Wine Madonna! Newly opened, Wine Madonna is located next to The Ale and the Witch. A perfect pairing for ladies like me who love wine and whose boyfriends love craft beer ๐Ÿ™‚ Luckily, my friend lives downtown so our destination was only a short walk away.

It was very cute inside, smaller than I thought. Despite the huge crowd at Ale and the Witch there were only a few wino patrons in Wine Madonna. I ordered the Sauvignon Blanc despite my excitement over their wine flights. I was just too full from all the goodies and the presecco I had been sipping on all night. Everyone else decided they wanted drinks from The Witch…but when I asked the guy behind the bar if my friends could come in with their drinks they said “of course” and stated they had an agreement with The Witch. Good to know. However, shortly after my friends entered we were asked to leave because we were too loud. There were only about 6 of us and we were in no way being rowdy, but I’m guessing everyone talking at once was too much for the few patrons that had already been in there.

A mexican restaurantย and a sushi place is set to open in the same plaza, which is exciting. I love to see local businesses flourishing and glad to see this gem of a plaza being occupied after being empty for so long. Since BayWalk is still eerily quiet…

The next morning I had to go into work for a few hours, but The Chef got creative and made a yummy breakfast with some leftover panzanella.

And a smoothie!

It was a wonderful birthday weekend filled with good food, good friends and good fun ๐Ÿ™‚