Tampa Bay Watch, Spring for the Arts, Girls Day

I am a bad blogger.

I had such an amazing weekend. However, there are few to none photos to prove it :/ Sometimes I just plain forget. Others I feel awkward taking photos of every little thing. Either way I wish I had more to showcase my fun. Guess you’ll just have to settle for words πŸ™‚

Thursday wasn’t so much “fun”, but still an experience I’d like to note. I volunteered with the Junior League at Suncoast Center’s Illuminating Hope event. Suncoast Center offers help to those who have suffered things such as physical and sexual abuse and Illuminating Hope was an awareness event and encouraged people to speak out. There were expressive art pieces on display as well as a series of speakers. Tears instantly welled up as the first speaker, a 20 year old girl, spoke about she had been through. It was some hard stuff to sit through, but I am glad I got to be a part of it.

On Friday my work had a volunteer day with Tampa Bay Watch. We met at Weedon Island where we were presented with a huge pile of fossilized shells. Our job was to shovel these shells into mesh bags, transport them down onto a boat and then go out on the boat and help place them along a shoreline to create an oyster bar. This oyster bar helps to restore lost habitat systems to the bay, prevent further erosion of the shoreline and improve water quality through natural biological filtration. We spent 3 hours in the FL sun doing real, physical labor. By back and arms were sore all weekend, but I loved it! I love that sense of accomplishment and being able to actually see the difference you make. Can’t wait until we do it again!

Saturday morning was spent at our Junior League Leadership Retreat. Our speaker talked a lot about different personalities and eventually we got seperated into our different personality groups and learned a lot about how we work and how to work with others with different personality types. It was really helpful!

That night I got to attend Creative Clay’s Spring for the Arts fundraiser on behalf of Creative Pinellas (I’ll be blogging for them soon). Never knowing how much food is actually available at events Jon and I went to Ceviche beforehand for a few nibbles. When we got there there was a half hour wait so we went downstairs to their Flamenco bar area where there were very little people…score! We grabbed some seats at the bar and enjoyed some lovely wine and tapas. We hadn’t been to Ceviche to eat in so long and we forgot how much we enjoyed it. And we definitely favor the downstairs area better…it’s less hectic and I just like the atmosphere a bit better. The service seems to be better as well for some reason.

We had the Tabla Mixta, which hadΒ Chorizo, Morcilla and Serrano ham withΒ Mahon, Manchego and Tetilla cheeses, sliced fruit and homemade pΓ’te. Piquillos rellenos which are stuffed red peppers with ground veal and chorizo served with a sherry sauce. This is by far my favorite dish here. The flavor is perfect and they’re just delicious! We also had an asparagus dish, which was a nice side…got to have those veggies!

Spring for the Arts was a great event.

Beautiful music and wonderful artwork.

Tons of raffle and silent auction items.

A good amount of food and drink. I enjoyed some white wine and snagged some bread pudding from Ricky P’s for dessert.

(Since I’m reporting on this event for Creative Pinellas I won’t give too many details away.) We ran into a few people we knew and ended up chatting away the 2 hours we were there. They had member artisits doing free portraits and unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do that 😦 The event was on the third floor of The Pier, which is used for lots of events. Beautiful views of the water and St. Pete!

Sunday I joined some lady friends for yoga at The Dali. This was actually my second yoga class of the week…imagine that! Afterwards we had a late lunch at Red Mesa Cantina. Jon and I had gotten dim sum that morning so I only had half of my mahi mahi torta, but it sure was good. Complete with a pomegrante mimosa πŸ™‚

This week is going to be quiet. Jon is working nights this week so I’m on my own meals wise…might try my hand at some dishes! But I also don’t have anything planned outside of work for once. The only thing I do have planned this week is taking my mom to Hard Rock this Saturday for an early Mother’s Day present so that should be fun!

What fun things did you do this past weekend? Have you done any volunteering lately?

 

Diana Ross, Italian Night and Mexican Birthday

Hey all!

Last week was pretty uneventful besides me being productive on a freelance project. It involves interviewing local business owners and I’ve been loving getting to know a bunch of them. It’s so fulfilling to see what a tight knit and caring community we have here in St. Pete.

Anywho, my mom’s birthday was yesterday, but we celebrated last Friday. I took her for a yummy dinner at BellaBrava and to see Diana Ross at Mahaffey. BellaBrava is really growing on me. I never disliked it, but wrote it off as whatever American Italian food. But the service is always great there and the food is consistently good. Unfortunately we got seated next to a large party, but they were packed so no matter where we were it would have been noisy. That’s their biggest downfall. My mom got the Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini and I got the Chicken Picatta with mashed potatoes and green beans. Very good and a nice alernative to pasta. I also had a glass on Pinot Blanc, which I’d never heard of before, but it was very crisp and refreshing.

Diana Ross put on a great performance. The only thing I didn’t like was that she didn’t really talk to the audience like most performers. She didn’t even give a “thank you and goodnight”. Just did her last song and walked off. At first we thought she’d come back to do an encore like most performers, but when the lights came up and people started clearing the stage we knew that wasn’t going to happen. This was my first time seeing a show at the Mahaffey though and I loved it. Although our seats were in the second to last row we had a clear, full view. And the theater itself is very pleasing to the eye. Not a bad price for drinks either!

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It was only 9:30 when the show got out so we headed to Old Farmer’s Creamery for some ice cream. This place is SO good and my go-to place for real ice cream. I tend to always get Superman (I’m such a five year old) but I was craving chocolate so I got Rocky Road. Mmm…they use real mini marshmallows too! I also always get a kids size. It’s the perfect size…you feel like you’ve satisfied a craving without feeling gross and that “oh my god did I just ALL of that?” feeling.

The next day I did a Junior League volunteer shift. Afterwards I called my friend Lora, who I needed to pick some stuff up from. Turns out she was out with some other lovely ladies having an afternoon cocktail so I decided to join them.

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Yummy sangria overlooking the water at Fresco’s. Perfection. Except for the $9 value of that drink (!!!)

Later that night we headed to our friend Jan’s for Italian night. There was tons of pasta, chicken parm, turkey meatballs and wine. We were supposed to pop in a movie, but ended up chatting all night. How is it that always happens πŸ˜‰

Sunday we were supposed to meet up with an out-of-town friend for brunch, but she ended up not being able to make it. We headed to brunch anyway! Red Mesa Cantina, another consistent fav.

We started with the dip trio which has guac, queso and black bean dip. I tried their new Duck torta, which was good but not as good as the roasted pork. I’ll never get enough of those yuca fries though!

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Enjoyed with a margarita πŸ™‚

For dinner that night I got to taste Jon’s Italian Wedding soup.Β 

I get a free turkey from work every Thanksgiving and it finally made its way out of the freezer. Earlier in the week he made BBQ turkey legs…

…with a sweet potato and kale with bacon. I know, I’m lucky. Then the turkey breasts got grinded for turkey meatballs and the bones went into a pot to make stock. Quite a lot of meals from one turkey!

Fast forward to yesterday, my mom’s actual birthday. We had her over and Jon made vegetable enchiladas with rice and refried beans. I love how I’ll set out to make something, he’ll say “want me to help?” and he’ll end up doing all the work…although we wouldn’t have been eating until nine if I had cooked πŸ™‚

Mexican feast!

Plus carrot cake for dessert. A tip for getting rid of uneatten birthday cake? Bring it to work the next day πŸ™‚

March is shaping up to be quite the exciting month. For one thing I signed up for my very first 5K!!! I’m so pumped and excited. I’ve been wanting to do one for a while now and finally sucked it up and registered. Training has been going well but I haven’t run a full 2 miles yet let alone 3. My goal is to run the whole time without stopping. It’s the Robinson Perseve Twilight 5K, which sounds really neat and pretty. Plus there’s a shindig afterwards.

What fun and exciting things do you have planned for March?

Salad Galore

Hey all, long time no blog…let’s get right into it…

My First Official Salad Beast

I love me some salad. And sometimes I’m in the mood for them more than other times, and this week seemed to be one of those times. Its also something that is so easy to throw together after a long, hard day. So earlier this week, when The Chef was working late and I was too tired to even think I decided to throw a salad together. Usually, I’ll just toss together the standard, tomatoes, cucumbers, meat and cheese, but this time was different…

It was pretty rad. I forgot how good canned tuna is!

New Things I’ve Tried This Week

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Wasn’t too crazy about these at first, but they grew on me. A nice, chocolatey dessert when you don’t want to down 100s of calories. These are only 60 calories a pop and you’re getting some fruit intake too πŸ™‚

The Chef wasn’t big on these, but I really dig ’em. They’re nice, bite size, crunchy, nutty bits with a slight cocoa flavor. I find them a bit addicting actually.

Not So Antipasti

The reason you haven’t been hearing from me lately is that we’ve been busy getting my mom’s condo fixed up before she moves down here. The past two weekends we’ve been cleaning, painting and other odds and ends. The Chef’s dad has come up to help us as well, which has been a huge help. Also, with these weekends have come takeout. Last night we took out from Westshore Pizza, which isn’t our fav place, but it’s just around the corner.

My plate

White pizza with ricotta and spinach…not terrible, but a bit salty. We also got the strombolli, which had TONS of mozzarella and some ham. I liked that better than the pizza. And for some green we got the antipasti salad, which…was…not really antipasti…unless you normally put things such as tuna and brocolli in antipasti? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Has anyone else ever heard of this? Cause we certainly haven’t.

A Few Notable Dinners (sorry no pics)

Tried the duck quesidillas at Red Mesa Cantina. Came with pineapple (I question it’s freshness) and a nice spicey sauce that had a smooth heat. Great flavor and perfect if you aren’t that hungry (I wasn’t obviously).

Went to Bella Brava for the second time since they moved into their new space. This time it was with The Chef, who is a harder critic. He got the Bolognese, which he wasn’t thrilled with…mostly because his is better πŸ™‚ I got this baked rigatoni dish with sausage, which sounded like perfect, cheesy comfort food. Little did I know it was going to come out encased in a GIANT pizza dough shield. I really wish I had taken a pic of this, but I wanted to deflate it as quick as possible so as not to draw attention. Yes, it was THAT bad. It was a pretty simple dish and I dug it.

These next few days are gonna fly as The Chef and I prepare for our trip to Portland! Can’t wait. Sorry to say, but it will probably be another long period in between blogs. Will try and update if I can…maybe with some quick photo posts πŸ™‚ Have a great week everyone!

The Trifecta

Last weekend we had a long weekend of family and fun in the Cape. So we were more than ready for a nice quiet, relaxing weekend at home.

We had a friend move to Georgia about a year ago and she finally came down for a visit! We only got to see her for a few hours over brunch, but it was so good to catch up. Brunch was at Red Mesa Cantina. We’ve never had a bad meal there…one of the few restaurants in St. Pete that is consistently good.

I had the chorizo and egg breakfast burrito. Very yummy, but I had orderers remorse in that I wish I had gotten something more exciting, like the steak and eggs I had also been eyeing.

I also enjoyed a very yummy and refreshing hibiscus mimosa:

The boy had the Vuelve a la Vida (ceviche), which he “mmm”ed about the entire time πŸ™‚

The rest of the day was spent on the couch until dinner time. We both had been very healthy all week…just the night before we had salad galore with quinoa topped with salmon. So we thought we’d be a little “bad” and make macaroni and cheese. Topped with breadcrumbs and bacon of course πŸ™‚

Oh baby…

Since we were lazy bums yesterday, today was donned the adventure day. I don’t mind lazing about one day out of the weekend, but at least one day has to feel productive/fun.

We’ve had an abundance of fresh fruit in our fridge so the boy has been making these uber delicious smoothies for us:

After one of these I’m ready to tackle the day. So we decided to head out and do our “trifecta”, which consists of Pho Quyen Vietnamese, Marko’s Meat and Deli and Total Wine. It’s the “trifecta” since all three of these stops are along the way to the next πŸ™‚

First stop was actually Target, where we’ve been trying to find pillows for our “new” couch (actually a hand me up from the boy’s brother and sis-in-law) and a few other household items. We searched to no avail 😦

By the time we got out of there our tummies were starting to rumble. Pho Quyen it is! One of our traditions has been to go out for Vietnamese on the weekend. It used to be Ha Long Bay for dim sum, but we recently stumbled across this place and pretty much fell in love. Although today was not as good as the past two times we’ve been there…we’re hoping it’s just an off day.

Our feast…

I got my favorite BBQ Beef on vermicelli.

Very, very good, but not as good as last time I got it :/ Their meat is always perfect though…the flavors are just to die for. The boy usually gets Pho, but decided to try the shrimp and sugar cane on vermicelli. The shrimp was a bit off (he thinks too much shrimp paste), but knawing on the sugar cane was pretty awesome.

We also split a grilled pork bahn mi…the pork was excellent and the bread tasted fresh, but we both agreed that Thuy Cafe is our go-to place for bahn mi.

I was also craving a thai tea, but there’s was way too sweet…the boy had to finish it for me along with his Vietnamese iced coffee.

After our bellies were full it was off to Marko’s…a pretty awesome little European market and deli. They have the BEST meats including sausage and cured meats that they make in house. Alas, we drove up to the entrance only to find a sign on their door that says they’re on vacation and won’t be open again until July 29. Boo!

So we moved on to Total Wine…love the wine tastings they do on the weekends! That’s usually our first stop since we always seem to like one or two of the wines they offer. Plus they give $1 discount if you decide to buy one. We more than stocked up today…don’t think we have to go back for about a month.

I wanted to stop by Border’s on the way home to check out the sale (such a shame they’re all closing), but the parking lot was looking all sorts of crowded so we just booked it home.

Conversation Starter: Do you have any weekend traditions that you follow?