Jon’s Birthday

*Note: My apologies on the dated post, but I just realized I never hit publish on this puppy. Opps!

As if having your birthday on Thanksgiving wasn’t enough…

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I decided to surprise Jon by taking him somewhere he’s wanted to go for a long time…

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Oh yes, he was a happy guy!

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Cigar City Brewing Company is a local brewery in Tampa, FL. Named after the fact that Tampa was known for its cigars back in the day and had the nickname “Cigar City”.

Now, I am not a beer drinker…I just have never developed a taste for it. There are some beers I’ve tasted that I’ve liked, but I can only manage a few sips. But I still have an interest in the beer making process and have picked up some knowledge from Jon.

photo9(Some grains we got to taste that they put in the beer. It was yummy!)

Cigar City does tours for $5 and it includes a tasting glass and free drink. Pretty good deal!

The brewery is kind of small…at least smaller than I expected. But they actually opened another space next door to them that they’re not giving tours of yet. They’re also expanding their tasting room very soon, where they’ll have 50 beers on tap. Holy beer!

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Our tour guide, Bob, was great. He made the tour fun and welcomed as many questions as people had. He talked about Cigar City’s history, some of the beers and walked us through their process. We even got to taste a few of the beers.

And yes, I tried them. And yes, I kind of liked them. But as usual…I only had a few sips then poured the rest into Jon’s glass 🙂

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If you live in the Tampa Bay area I definitely recommend checking this place out! It’s a fun (and cheap) thing to do.

Jon’s parents were in town this weekend. I had a certificate to The Vinoy sitting in my dresser for forever and finally realized Jon and I were never going to use it (too close to home) so I gave it to them to use since it’s more of a vacation for them.

We met up with them later Saturday night.

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Yay Christmas!

We had a nice drink in the lobby. I hadn’t been to The Vinoy since they finished renovating their lobby. It looks really nice, but kind of too modern for the historic building that it is. Jon’s parents said they loved the place though and were having a great time!

We went to dinner at Red Mesa, which was wonderful. I had the pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes and black beans. We had a bite of all of our dishes and everything was delicious. Definitely a great spot that we need to go to more often.

Sunday morning I picked up my friend Tamsyn at the airport. (She lives in Ft. Myers but flew to visit her parents for Thanksgiving.) It seems we’ve started a tradition every time she’s in the area…Datz and shopping.

Oh Datz…I love you oh so much. I feel like I haven’t tried any other wonderful restaurants in Tampa simply because I always want to go to Datz.

I had to try their new Popsicle Cocktail. I got the pumpkin chai flavor.

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It’s a pumpkin chai popsicle served in sparkling wine. The popsicle melts down and you have a fun cocktail. It’s definitely a fun and unique drink. Flavor wise I think it could be a bit better.

For lunch I had the Holy Guacamole Mezrah. Turkey, muenster cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing on country white bread. Very good. I love how they put tons of meat on their sandwiches, but I actually wish there had been less on this sandwich. I wanted to tasted all of the flavors together, but there was only a small hint of the cole slaw and Russian dressing. I had a few bites of Tamsyn’s Havana Hottie too, which was soooo good!

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Tamsyn was in need of some furniture so we explored a few local shops before hitting up International. I always say I need to visit Tampa more often…there are so many cute little stores that I want to stop into! And warning for any shoppers…looks like malls are going to be terribly crowded until Christmas. International was crazy! Or maybe it was because it was Black Friday weekend?

Side note…I took this cutie with me to CrossFit the other day.

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She was really good. I tied her up by the door and she just laid down and watched us the whole time. Probably thinking “What the hell is Mom doing?”

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Do you take your dog to workout with you? Or do you workout with your dog at all? I’ve taken Maddie on a few runs…nothing over 3 miles yet. She seems to like it!

The Running Foodie

How was everyone’s weekend? Lots of eating and running around here 🙂

Friday was a yoga and Taco Bus kind of night. Yoga feels sooo good after a week of running. My poor hip flexors.

Along with Taco Bus I picked myself up a bottle of Skinnygirl margarita. I can’t help it…I love sassy and savvy Bethney. It wasn’t actually as good as I remembered, but I still dig it. After dinner we watched Goon again and I promptly passed out on the couch. Crazy Friday night.

Saturday we started our day off with Pho Quyen. Pho for him and BBQ Beef with Rice Vermacelli for her.

Then we made our usual trifecta. A stop at Marko’s Meats for some yummy sausage, salami and Happy Hippos. And a stop at Total Wine where we had a lovely wine tasting and stocked up for the month.

On the way home we also stopped at Sports Authority, where I spent too much money on some much needed fitness gear.

I ended up with a yoga towel, which I need desperately. I’m tired of slipping and sliding on a sweaty mat! A handheld water bottle because I need to run with water on my long runs and I’m afraid my clutzy self will fling a loose water bottle from my sweaty hand. I may end up returning this though. I used it on Sunday and it leaks. I thought of getting a camelbak but they’re pricey and I don’t want anything on my back. I’m also not a huge fan of the fuel belts. Any suggestions?? Maybe I’ll just have to make due with a water bottle.

I also came out with a running hat and shorts. I LOVE the hat. I figured I should invest in one for long runs because they have more ventilation and protection than a regular hat. This thing worked wonders for me. And the shorts were surprisingly comfortable and I love them too. Running shorts are equivalent to finding the perfect pair of jeans to me. SO many shorts are “booty shorts” and I’m sorry, but I don’t want to have to worry about my butt hanging out when I’m trying to get my run on. Longer shorts tend to not be any kind of dri fit material. And these shorts I’ve strayed away from because I’m not a huge fan of elastic waistbands and I’m always worried the attached underwear is going to ride up. The waistband on these though is great…very comfy. And the underwear inside is more the length of boyshorts so no riding up. I approve!

Dinner on Saturday was very notable. One of the best dinners we’ve had in a while. I love when Jon’s in the kitchen 🙂

That there is roasted lamb with a rosemary, garlic, deliciousness rub. On the side are roasted red potatoes and broccoli rabe with lemon, garlic and a special ingredient 🙂

Delicious!

I needed to get an 8 mile run in this weekend so I got up at 6 a.m. on Sunday, downed a clif bar and some water and headed downtown.

Although I’m not really a morning person, I love seeing the sunrise and watching the world wake up around me.

I definitely did not run 8 straight miles. I kept having to slow myself down because I was running too fast and knew I’d wear myself out. Around mile 4 is when I started my stop and go routine. It makes a run so much harder…any time I stop, starting up again kinda sucks. Especially when I started to feel blisters forming on my insoles. (Any suggestions for special running socks?) With my walking breaks I’m guessing I actually ran a total of 7 miles, which I’m still happy about. I just keep reminding myself it’s only the second week of my training and that was the first time I attempted 8 miles.

On my way home I stopped for everything bagels with cream cheese and lox for myself and a sleepy Jon. And after a shower and a power nap I went to pick up my buddy Tamsyn from the airport.

We had a full day of fun starting with…

Datz. Aka Foodie Heaven.

I started with a Huckleberry Lemonade, which I wasn’t expecting to come out so “cocktail” looking. It was darn tasty. Very light and refreshing.

You can’t go wrong with the sandwiches here. I got the Ty’s Two Fister which was pastrami (house smoked), corned beef, honey mustard and swiss cheese on pumpernickel. Yum is not the word. And I love the chips they serve with a blue cheese drizzle.

We were joined by Tamsyn’s sister and her boyfriend. And we all tried bites of each other’s meals, which was quite hilarious as we were passing sandwiches around the table.

I can’t leave this place without a sweet treat. I tried a salted caramel macaron and it was truly delectable. And the perfect size treat.

I also had a few bites of Tamsyn’s limencello gelato, which was like a sorbet and so light with nice bursts of lemon. Perfect ending to a hearty meal.

Datz Tampa on Urbanspoon

Next we were onto some shopping. None of us had been to Nordstrom Rack before so we decided to check it out. Definitely one of those places where it’s hit or miss. There’s a lot to go through and I was on sensory overload by the time we left. I ended up a pair of turquoise earrings (my fav) and a pair of heels for work.

Then it was on to International Plaza where most of our time was spent in the new H&M. So glad I finally made it in to check it out. And I came out with this cute little number.

Tamsyn has always been my best shopping buddy! I don’t see her nearly enough and will miss her 😦

Can’t beat a weekend with a mix of food, shopping and fitness!

Where are your favorite places to shop?

View of the Water

Hello friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Mine was filled with fun, fun, fun so let’s get started 🙂

Clay and Cabernet

After work on Friday my friend and I headed to the Morean Arts Center for Clay for an event put on by the Morean Arts Center Ambassadors called Clay and Cabernet. The Center for Clay is located in an old historic train station and is one of the coolest buildings (in my opinion) in St. Pete. I love old buildings, especially brick ones. I’ve heard of this event before and always wanted to go so I was excited to finally see what it was all about.

We explored the center.

  

  

Ate some yummy appetizers.

    

  

Had some wine.

  

Watched some clay demonstrations.

There was also live music, which was a nice touch and set the mood for the event. It was fun to look around as I’d only been there once before. Our only complaint was that we were expecting to get down and dirty with some clay ourselves, which was promoted. However, we weren’t sure how to go about it. There were demonstrators there, but they seemed so intent on their pottery wheels it seemed awkward to disturb them.

We only stayed for about an hour and then headed back to my friend’s place to snack on cheese and champagne. We ended the night with a drink at Mandarin Hide with more friends. We didn’t stay out too late since we had to get up early in the morning for…

Blogger Brillance Conference

I was so excited for this conference since there don’t seem to be many blogger conferences in the Tampa Bay area. And this was my first blogger conference in general!

  

There was a good crowd. A mix of fashion and food bloggers. The morning consisted of a panel of bloggers talking about creating the right content, there social media preferences, how to work with brands, etc. Most of the info was stuff I already knew, but I did learn a few new things and it was nice being around other bloggers and hearing their experiences.

There were more events later in the day, such as a food tasting for the food bloggers and a fashion show (with Tim Gunn!!!) for the fashion bloggers, but alas I couldn’t go because of our friend’s wedding that night.

Since my friend had other things to do as well we had a leisurely lunch at Datz. LOVE Datz. I can never get enough of that place and want to go there anytime we’re in South Tampa.

  

I had the new Salmon Burger. The salmon could have had more flavor. I loved the dill mustard that it came with and the addition of cucumbers. But the salmon itself could have had some more flavor to it. And the bread was SO good. So fresh tasting and nice and soft. It also came with Datz’s signature chips that are drizzled in a blue cheese sauce…mmm.

  

Paired it all with pomegranate iced tea. I’m not a big iced tea person, but this was very refreshing!

Wedding Fun

Later that night The Chef and I had the honor of attending our friend’s wedding. It was held at The Rusty Pelican. Don’t let the name through you or mistake it for The Sloppy Pelican. I’d never been here, but this place was SO nice. The ceremony was outside and the couple was married in a cute gazabo with violins playing.

  

There was a cocktail reception with some awesome looking hors d’ouevres.

  

Complete with beautiful water views.

The reception was gorgeous. Their colors were blues and purples.

  

The bride did the flower centerpieces herself…beautiful!

Surf and turf for dinner.

Then dancing and fun times!

  

  

This is one of those couples who you just know belong with one another, and they compliment each other perfectly. We’re so happy for them!

Dim Sum Sunday

The Chef had to work unexpectedly Saturday. That paired with working until 1 a.m. the night before and the wedding, he was beyond pooped. We enjoyed sleeping in and then heading to one of our favorite places, Halong Bay, for dim sum.

We haven’t been here in for-ever…ever since we found Pho Quyen, we’ve just abandoned Halong Bay for a bit.

The dim sum was so good and fresh tasting today, though I hope we start coming back more often!

We always start with a pot of jasmine tea.

The dumpling cart came to us first…the pork and shrimp dumplings are our favorite. We also tried the pork and bok choy dumpling. It was good (nice and light) but not my favorite.

Something else new we tried were the potstickers. These were awesome…full of flavorful pork with a hint of smoke.

We also got my favorite…BBQ steam bun! Seriously SO good. Chock full of BBQ pork goodness.

Lotus leaf sticky rice is another favorite.

And we ended with the custard bun, which is pretty much like an Asian doughnut 🙂

The best part? All of this for $20. SO cheap and we’re always stuffed to the max.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. A trip to Home Depot and then some lounging at home. Dinner time quickly neared so we headed to the store and stocked up for the week.

The Chef had a genius idea for dinner…sloppy joes!

Ya…I swear I eat healthy most of the time 🙂 There’s nothing wrong with a little comfort food! Paired with Cape Cod salt and vinegar chips.

And cider. I’ve been seeing so many fellow bloggers springing into fall while enjoying pumpkin beers. And while they sound good, I know my taste buds won’t agree (I just hate beer). Fall drinks to me are cider, so I celebrated fall today with a cider. (Even though here in FL we’re far from it.)

That about wraps up the weekend! Here’s to Monday 😦

Conversation Starter: What were some of your weekend highlights?

Datz Yummy

It has been quite the delicious week 🙂

Monday I had an appointment in Tampa so I figured it would be the perfect opporunity to meet up with a friend who lives in Old Hyde Park. We chose Datz as our dining destination. I’ve only been here one other time and it was no less than awesome. Definitely a place that lives up to the hype.

I had their High Steaks Cesar Salad.

I would have liked some more actual salad, but they certainly loaded it with yummy steak. The pineapple salsa was a bit too citrusy for me but everything came together really well. And that little darling cornbread on the side? Easily the best part of the dish…reminded me of a hostess cinnamon crumb cake.

My friend got her favorite: the Roasty Toasty sandwich (love the name).

I refused to leave without getting dessert. For those who have not been to Datz before, it has a market downstairs filled with goodies, a cheese display, beer and wine, chocolates and tons of yummy looking cakes and cookies.

I chose this massive piece of red velvet cake. Oh. My. Goodness. It was beyond good.

Lunch highlights of the week:

Boar’s Head jerk turkey and chipotle gouda Publix sub…I love when Boar’s Head comes up with these ever so yummy and creative subs. I was originally going to order a simple turkey and cheese sub, but then saw this special and decided to give it a whirl. Verdict? A little too spicy for me…I also always seem to forget how much I really don’t like that chipotle taste. But the jerk turkey was good. My fav Boar’s Head sub is still the Everroast Chicken sub…everroast chicken, cheese, bacon, gourmaise…mmmmm.

We had some leftover quinoa to use up so I decided to make this spinach quinoa bake. Everything is already cooked when you mix it together so you actually eat it just like that. But the texture was awesome once it was baked. I bought a simple rotessiere chciken to pair with it, but of course the chef stepped it up a notch. He mixed it with some greek yogurt, peppers and spices and voila…yumminess is created.

I made a stop in Earth Origins this week (formerly Nature’s Finest). During my visit I picked up Dr. Praeger’s California veggie burgers. I’ve always heard good things but never tried them. I made myself a simple garden salad one day and topped it with one of these babies. Very flavorful! A bit mushy, but it went great on the salad.

Added this on top.

Some dessert highlights:

My favorite Caribbean Coconut Talenti gelato with a banana on top.

Homemade seven layer bars.

These are SO easy to make, and easily one of my favorite desserts ever. Just mix 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs with 1/2 cup of butter and spread it on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. On top sprinkle evenly 1 cup of coconut, 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1 cup of butterscotch chips and 1 cup of nuts (I chose walnuts). Yum. E.

Hope everyone’s weekend was grand! Mine was espicially lazy. It was filled with a nice dinner at Red Mesa Cantina with friends, chicken and dumplings, a Rays Watch Party and steak and bleu cheese salad. Sorry, no pictures 😦

Conversation Starter: How creative do you get with your work lunches? Do you make it easy with just a frozen entree or leftovers? Or do you go out of your way to make a salad or sandwich.