Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday 🙂 I love birthdays and (so far) this has been one of the best in a while.

We actually celebrated Saturday. Normally the thing to do in our group of friends is to have a party at someone’s house/apartment, but I decided I wanted something different this year. I didn’t want everyone having to worry about bringing food, drinks and then cleaning up afterwards. I just wanted something easy and fun.

The day started with go-kart racing at Tampa Bay Grand Prix. So fun! I wanted to do something I’d never done before and go karts sounded like a blast to me.

Tampa Bay Grand Prix was a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be! For some reason I expected a go-kart place to be a run down hole in the wall kind of place. But it was really nice, clean and the service was great. And easy! First they send you to a computer to register, then you pay and then you wait for your race to come up. Simple as that.

I called a few days before to inquire about a good time to come on a Saturday. Of course they said it’s the busiest day of the week so we decided to come at 11 a.m. right when they opened. No one else was there except a little kid’s birthday party (ha).

I wish I had gotten pics of us in our huge helmets. So funny. They give you a few practice laps and then off you go at 45 mph! It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but once I did I was zipping around all the corners. That didn’t seem to help though since I came in last 😦 (Don’t let this photo fool you. My friends were nice and let me be #1 since I was the birthday girl :))

After racing I wanted to get a new dress for our night out later so it was off to the mall. I didn’t actually end up getting anything. I hate shopping when I’m looking for something specific! And I’m so picky. Oh well.

Boba tea and banh mi on the way home-made me happy 🙂

 

After filling our bellies we rested up for the night.

I was so glad that our friend Nick and Jon’s sister, Alyson, were able to come up from Cape Coral to celebrate with me! Nick spent the weekend with us, but Alyson could only stay for dinner 😦

I originally wanted to go to Red Mesa Cantina, but they wouldn’t let me make a reservation (even though I had over 10 people) because of the weekend and the RNC. So my friend suggested Ceviche, which turned out to be a lot better. We sat downstairs in the Flamenco Bar area, which has an awesome atmosphere.

The food was delicious as always. Our server was not exactly Mr. Personality, but that didn’t stop us from having a nice time.

Jon asked the band that was playing to play “Happy Birthday” to me. So sweet 🙂

And then a huge piece of tres leche cake came out with a birthday candle. Didn’t snap a pic, but it was quite yummy.

Then it was off to hit the bars!

First stop was Mandarin Hide for moscow mules.

Then Tryst, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I got the signature Tryst martini, which was delicious, but overpriced at $10. However I probably won’t come back anytime soon. It was a little stuffy in there and the staff kept eyeing us…we didn’t feel very wanted.

Last stop was Ale and the Witch…always a fun and friendly place to be!

So, overall it was a great night with great friends, food and drinks. Couldn’t have asked for a better time!

The next day before Nick hit the road we headed to The Burg Bar and Grill for lunch. I decided to go for the Chicken and Waffles. Oh my goodness.

This was ridiculous. Really yummy, but after a while it got to be too much. I was defeated and could only eat about half. Probably a good thing 😉 Also had a bite of Nick’s pulled pork sliders, which was the best pulled pork I’ve ever had out at a restaurant. Tried a few of the wings he got as well. They were spicy, but really good.

The rest of the day was pretty lazy. Today we’re keeping an eye on the weather to see if Issac will ruin dinner plans or not. Hopefully not, but if it ends up being a pizza and cake kinda night that’s fine with me too 🙂

What has been your best birthday celebration so far?

Shake It Up

First of all…can we talk about how awesome fresh fish is?

Our friend Scotty went on a fishing charter Tuesday and shared the wealth.

Fresh caught cobia, roasted broccoli and wild rice.

I’d never tried cobia before and it was delicious. Nice, light flavor…meaty texture but still a bit flaky.

We were sent home with some more fish and had a nice healthy salad the next night.

Perfect after my 5 mile run!

Florida summer rain storms are not very helpful when training for a race. I had a Bait Nite meeting Wednesday and went in my running clothes, hoping the rain would let up by the time the meeting ended.

Luckily, it did! And the storm left a nice breeze along the water.

 

Still became a sweaty mess 🙂

Last night was St. Pete Shakes’ Beer with the Bard event. I can’t say enough about how awesome The Ale and the Witch is. The owner Brett is so nice, easy-going and knows how to run a good business. He is always there chatting up people and helping out around the bar.

Last night was another awesome event. I ran in to so many familiar faces…both people who had come to the event and people who just happened to be there. It was the place to be!

We had our table set up inside in case it rained, which actually I think worked out better. More people seemed to stop by and ask us about our group, buy raffle tickets, etc.

But luckily the rain stayed away and we had our performances outside.

I’m starting to wish this event was more than once a month! It’s so much fun!

Not too much is lined up for the weekend. I have a Junior League meeting/brunch tomorrow and would like to do the Saturday Gallery Walk as well. And besides my long run, Sunday is wide open.

Hoping to get today’s Foodie Friday post up soon…in honor of last night this week’s post will be all about cider 😉

What’s your favorite hang out spot where you live? What makes you keep going there?

So Bad But So Good

Let’s start off with a cute puppy photo shall we?

Because every day should start off with cute puppies.

After the Chevy Fit 4 Life tour I scooted home to shower and change and meet up with Jon and our friend Alex’s house for dinner and cocktails. And hanging out with Lucy up above.

I had another cat encounter as well! We started to hear this meowing and finally realized it was coming from their neighbor’s roof. There was a poor kitty stuck on the roof! Alex thought it belonged to their neighbor across the street so she went to go inform him. At some point they were at a loss so the fire department was called. What is this, the 1960s? They came in no time and wouldn’t you believe it…the silly cat jumped onto a nearby tree as soon as the firemen got up to the roof to try and save him. Once it was on the tree it was easy for us to grab him.

And the kicker? It wasn’t even the neighbors cat! Luckily he had a tag with an ID number on it so Alex kept the cat for the night until animal services opened the next morning. I felt bad that the fire department had to come out and help, but they actually said they get a lot more calls like this than you think. Ha!

On Tuesday my buddy Tamsyn came to visit! She was flying out of Tampa to New Orleans the next day so she stayed the night to hang with us for a while.

The night started with some lovely vino. Seriously, the best wine I’ve had in a while.

And Jon made a lovely dinner of roasted pork tenderloin (cooked to perfection), roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus. I can’t get enough of roasted vegetables…seriously the best way to prepare them!

After our tummies settled we hit the town. Tamsyn and I went to college together and she doesn’t make it up to St. Pete a lot, so it was fun to point out new places to her or things that have changed.

She loves Mandarin Hide (as do we) so we had to stop there first for some Moscow Mules.

Then we hit up The Ale and the Witch. I was so happy to see that they had Angry Orchard on tap! I’m a Woodchuck fan, but I think this is my new fav cider. It’s the perfect amount of sweet and dry.

The third bar we wanted to go to ended up being closed so we were on the way home when we decided to keep the adventure going and went to the beach. We stopped at The Drunken Clam, which was a bit too divey for me. By this time we were in need of some food and a lightbulb went off in Jon’s head.

Let me just say…Willy’s on Corey Ave for the win. This place rocks. It’s small and beachy, but still clean and has a great vibe. Our bartender was awesome and the food…oh the food.

I hate flash, but it was too dark and this was the kind of food you want documented.

Jon has repeatedly raved about their Fried Bologna sandwich, which sounded gross to me, but now I’m a believer. It’s salty, meaty goodness. And I always get nostalgic when I see tater tots.

We also got the blackened wings, which were really good but I think I prefer wings doused in sauce 🙂 My fav was defiantly the Turkey Balls, which were fried turkey dressing (or what I would call stuffing) served with gravy and cranberry sauce on the side. So bad, but so good.

The next day we drove Tamsyn to the airport and immediately went back to bed. Once we got up I got ready for my 4 mile run (which I had to do on the tredmill, ugh!) and Jon got ready to go to work 😦

After my run I went over to my friend Lou’s house for a little 4th of July get together. A lot of people I didn’t know, but a cool bunch of people. Lots of hanging out, dog petting and hula hooping. I had dinner plans so I tried not to munch too much. I did have a bite of my friend Lora’s brownie, marshmallow, fruit skewers, which looked so good! Yay for Pinterest 😉

So my mom and I planned on getting some yummy mexican food for dinner. Little did we realize so many places would be closed! We eventually ended up at Macaroni Grill, which, as I’ve said before, isn’t all that bad. I had the Chicken Parm, which was pretty tasty and I love the rosemary bread they give you. And there’s always enough for leftovers the next day 🙂

Didn’t watch any fireworks this year. We didn’t want to deal with busy downtown, plus my mom’s dogs are scared of fireworks so she wanted to be with them. I still saw some from a distance from our condo, but I was just as happy catching up on my Real Housewives of the OC.

Now shall we end with a cute puppy photo as well?

Jon and I are dogsitting for our neighbor and friend, Ashley while she’s in London for a few weeks. Such cuties!

How was your 4th of July?

Beer with the Bard

Last night was St. Pete Shakes’ first Beer with the Bard event at The Ale and the Witch. We’re going to be doing this little friendraiser every 2nd Thursday of the month.

And the first one was a success! Ale and the Witch already has a lot of people who frequent their awesome bar, but we also had a lot of friends and supporters who came out for the event.

We had a small raffle, had free buttons and magnets out and had some of our awesome actors perform some monologues.

It was a great time hanging with friends, meeting some new faces and spreading the word of the Bard 🙂

Since we were there around dinner time I stopped into Rollboto for some sushi. This was my first time trying the “Subway of sushi” and wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s kind of cool. They have rolls that they make and you can customize them, or you can create your own, which is what I did.

Brown rice, 1 oz tuna, 1 oz salmon, avocado, sweet potato fries (!), cucumber and spicy aioli.

The sweet potato fries were actually good in this…you can’t really tell you’re eating fries in sushi, but you get the awesome flavor of sweet potato.

The sushi itself was a-ok. Nothing too special, but it hit the spot. And the fish tasted fresh, which is most important.

Later in the night, Farm to Forks Organics was selling small plates in the courtyard. They’re there every Thursday!

I tried some truffle mac and cheese.

I liked it, but the truffle flavor was almost overwhelming. I always thought I liked truffles, but it seemed too much in this? I also had a lot of garlic aftertaste, which I’m not a fan of. I don’t like my meal hangin’ around! But I would definitely try them again next time.

Throughout the night I sipped on Woodchuck Ginger, which was awesome. Light and refreshing with the perfect amount of ginger taste. I forgot how full cider makes me though. I got a 2nd one and could barely get through half of it.

If you’re local and haven’t been to the Ale and the Witch you must. It’s located in the Plaza Tower Courtyard and just has the coolest atmosphere. And the owner Brett, is one of the nicest people I’ve met and he knows how to run a good business. And he just genuinely loves his job and seeing people have a good time.

Can’t wait to do this event every month!

We’re off to Cape Coral this weekend!

 

My Week in Food

I swear I eat healthy. Even though all of the photos you see below will make you think otherwise. I just never seem to take a photo of the big, healthy salads we have for dinner. Maybe I think “bad” food is more interesting to document? 🙂 Either way I had some great and not so great food experiences this week. Time to share!

That glorious-ness was my lunch on Thursday. I have been so good about bringing my lunch to work, but we were low on supplies so I had to order out that day. There’s not a lot of healthy options nearby and I quickly got a craving for BBQ. Especially when I remembered that Smokin’ J’s just opened down the road. They’ve had a place in Gulfport for quite awhile and are pretty well known. I got the pulled pork with a small side of mac and cheese and beans. Yes, those are considered small sides. I love big portions, but I hate having to reign myself back from eating everything up! I hate of all this and brought the rest home for Jon. This was really good BBQ. The pork was nice and tender and slightly smokey. The sauce was on the sweet and tangy side, which is how I like it. I prefer the kind of mac and cheese that’s thicker and has bread crumbs on top, but this was pretty good too. The beans were excellent with little bits of meat mixed in. Could have done without the day old roll.

That same night after dinner, Jon and I went to meat up with a friend on the beach. Everyone on the beach knows about Twistee Treat.

Jon and I hadn’t been there since we were in school. Soft serve has definitely grown on me over the years. Could have had more vanilla flavor, but this puppy was still delish…espicially with the rainbow sprinkles 🙂 Felt like a kid again!

Friday I had a meeting at Ale and the Witch after work. I tried the new Woodchuck Spring cider, which was crisp and light with a hint of caramel. Perfect on a sunny, slightly breezy day.

After my meeting I headed to Three Birds Tavern to meet up with Jon and a few friends for dinner. We were so excited since we hadn’t been in awhile, but unfortunately we ended up having to leave. One of my friends is a vegetarian and she was looking forward to their grilled chedder sandwich. It wasn’t on the menu anymore (which we know menu changes happen) so she tried ordering the grilled cheese menu off the kids menu and they wouldn’t let her. They have very few vegetarian options and she didn’t want the other options they had. They pretty much refused to do anything for her…even when she offer to may double the price of the kids grilled cheese. It was not a good experience so we finished our drinks and decided to head to The Avenue.

I had been here for drinks before, but not food. We sat out on the back patio, which lacked some greenery, but was otherwise quite nice. Our waitress was friendly and very nice. I ordered the hunch punch and the Bacon Cheeseburger with BBQ sauce and fries.

I eat burgers very rarely. This was a good one. Flavor was great and it was cooked perfectly. I asked if they make their fries, which the server said no, but they were still crispy and tasty. Hunch punch was fruity and refreshing. I love when drinks are served in mason jars.

The next morning Jon and I were up early to take our cars in for oil changes. We decided to get bagels at St. Pete Bagel Company. We’d never been, but I’ve heard it’s the “go to” place for bagels in St. Pete. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. We actually think that the bagel place by our house is much better…they have bigger bagels and they have more flavor. Something was off about the dough too. Also wasn’t crazy about the cream cheese either. Jon got their lox spread, which had the lox already mixed in where as the place near us actually has huge bits of lox mixed in with the cream cheese. We also shared an apple fritter, which was pretty good. All of their donuts looked fantastic! And Jon said the coffee was excellent. The service was also pretty good. They had a lot of people, but the line moved quickly and efficiently.

Later that day, this happened.

I’d never seen a 3D movie before and it was pretty cool. Especially the parts where they show the ship under water and all the water particles are flying at you.

Have you had a bad restaurant experience lately? What was the worst experience you’ve had?

Local Love

Whew, I am loving these busy weeks but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am looking forward to a few low key nights next week. Let’s get to it!

Keep St. Pete Local Launch Party

St. Pete has been flourishing with a live local movement and it’s really been at the forefront (at least for me) in the past 6 or so months. Keep St. Pete Local is a new business alliance that has recently formed to be a resource for businesses and residents alike about living local. They had their launch party this past Tuesday and Jon and I attended.

The party took place at Nova 535, which I’d been to before, but never for a party. It’s really a cool space. Brick walls and tons of unique art hanging. Cool lighting and awesome local music playing. They have an upstairs too with an outside patio that’s a nice place to hang if the crowd gets to be too much for you. There was a lot of local restaurants that brought food, but we didn’t end up getting our hands on any. We were only there about an hour. Long enough for one drink and to hear a little bit about KSPL’s plans.

Really neat thing they did was write questions on paper on all the tables for people to answer. Great way to let everyone voice their opinions.

After we left we were HUN-GRAAAY so we headed to Taco Bus. Taco Bus = Love.

We were still alive and kickin’ after our burritos and decided to end the night with a drink at nearby Steelhouse Brewery. They don’t seem to get a lot of foot traffic, but it really is a cool little hole in the wall type of place. Nice atmosphere, nice people, nice everything!

Bonefish Grill

Wednesday I had a Junior League meeting at Bonefish Grill. I haven’t been here in forever. Jon and I used to go, then I think we had a few bad experiences and stopped going. It was really good though! Prices are definitely steep. My total was about $30 for one drink and an entree. I tried their new Winter White Cranberry Martini. I’m not normally a martini person and was afraid it’d be too strong. But it actually turned out to be super sweet, which was what I was in the mood for. We got an order of Bang Bang Shrimp (duh) for the table. So good. For an entree I had the crab cakes, which were just perfect. Lots of lump crab with little filler. They flaked perfectly and the remoulade with them was a great side kick. My sides were mixed veggies and the potatoes au gratin. The potatoes were very cheesy, but in a good way 🙂

Ale and the Witch Birthday Party

Happy 1st birthday to our fav place ever, The Ale and the Witch. We stopped by last night to show our support and have a nightcap. It was extremely crowded so we didn’t stay long. I had the Blackberry Pear Fox Barrel cider, which I thought would be too sweet, but it was actually just right! Very similar to a lambic. They had some local restaurants giving out food for just $2, but we didn’t partake. Although I was jonesing to try Farm to Fork Organics‘ mac and cheese.

Up on deck is First Friday tonight, then Les Miz tomorrow plus fun with Jon’s fam!

What fun things do you have planned for the weekend?

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Wow, has it really been almost a week since I’ve posted?? Oops. Sorry folks, lots of fun has been happening over here!

Thursday

When I last left you it was a day where I actually got to go into work late. With no food in the house I asked my friend Lora if she wanted to meet up for lunch. Off to Meze 119 we go!

This was my second visit and Meze didn’t disappoint. They’re proved their consistency. (At least with the food…our waitress didn’t know how to smile.)

Cyprus BLT with house salad.

Last time I was here, Lora got this and it looked so good I vowed to try it next visit. Tempeh bacon, panko encrusted tomato, olive tapenade, caramelized onions and syrian cheese on a whole wheat pita makes this sammie filling yet healthy tasting. Never had syrian cheese…loved it! It kind of tastes like mozzarella. The house salad was also bigger than expected and overflowed with my beloved sundried tomatoes. Love the vinaigrette they use also.

Friday

After work and a long Saturday ahead of me all I wanted to do Friday was drink wine, eat pizza and watch a movie. Only part of that happened. Pizza was nixed and we ended up getting Taco Bus. Aka the food I could eat every day for the rest of my life and be fat and happy.

The chochinita pibil burrito never gets old. But the butternut squash centro did. Don’t think we’ll get it again. We’ve gotten it a few times and finally realized we’re not big fans.

Weekend

Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in awhile.

I started off hugging strangers at Keep St. Pete Local’s Free Hug Fest. Sounds strange I know, but it was really a great thing. The idea formed from it being National Hugging Day and also KSPL’s goal to bring together the community and support local businesses. Basically residents could sign up for hugging shifts that were located throughout downtown St. Pete. You hold a sign that says “Free Hugs” and wait for people to ignore you, give you a nervous look or actually come up to you and ask for a hug. The mayor even gave out free hugs! I was a lone hugger on my block and while I felt a bit strange it was nice to start off the day with hugs!

Then it was off to Edible Peach Patch, where I joined fellow Eckerd alums and St. Pete residents in building a garden for a local elementary school. I helped dig 3 feet into the ground. My arms were sore for 2 days.

Later that night Jon, my mom and I went out for dinner at Moscato’s Bella Cucina. I had been here once with my mom before and was so thrilled to have finally found an authentic Italian place. Unfortunately it wasn’t as good this time 😦 I had the Linguine Pesto and substituted angel hair and added grilled chicken. It was ok, but not as good as the Chicken Saltimbocca I had last time. Jon got a shrimp pasta dish, which was served in a small bowl and looked like a child’s portion. There was also very few shrimp and he said the pasta, although fresh, was undercooked. I was so excited to show off this place to him so this was definitely dissapointing. He also noted that the majority of the wines they had were not Italian. I wrote a review on Yelp though, and got a nice response from the manager. She said they’d take my comments into consideration and to also note that they would be having grand re-opening soon and were trying to get rid of all their current wines to make room for more Italian wines. I still have hope for this place! Plus my mom likes it so I know I’ll be back 🙂

Besides the food, I love the live music they have. There was a guy who knew the band playing and actually randomly sang a few opera songs. He was so good and it was so cool! The whole restaurant literally fell quiet while he was singing.

After dinner and after we dropped my mom off, Jon and I decided to go back out to The Ale and the Witch, which is by far our fav bar in St. Pete.

Hot cider with more awesome live music.

Sunday was uneventful unless you think furniture shopping is exciting. It’s not.

But Lamb Provencal is.

So. Delicious. I’m so spoiled.

Monday

Jon’s sister and a friend came to stay the night with us Monday since they were in town for a conference. This week is also his sister’s birthday so Jon made her a special dinner of homemade spinach pasta and lamb ragu.

I really should have turned on the light for this pic.

For dessert I picked up some goodies at Sweet Divas, which I’d been dying to try. I asked the woman there (who happened to be one of the owners) to just give me some of her favorites. I ended up with 4 different kinds of chocolates and 3 cupcakes. The chocolates did not disappoint. The only one I wasn’t a fan of was the dark chocolate grand mariner. Not sure why, just wasn’t my fav. But the dark chocolate salted caramel was definitely the table favorite. Also on the plate is a milk chocolate champagne (in the shape of a cork!) and a white chocolate key lime.

The cupcakes weren’t as good. I loved the frosting, but we all agreed the cake part was a bit dry.

Overall a fun and gluttonous night!

More fun things coming up this week!

How has your week been so far?

 

Resisting the Urge of the Donut

Hello friends!

It’s been a pretty uneventful week around here. Rest assured that when you don’t hear from me for awhile it’s not because I’m out having fun, it’s because I have nada to write about.

The week has been filled with an eye doctor visit (holy moly I always forget how expensive contacts are), a Junior League meeting (always inspiring) and sloppy joe leftovers (sloppy joe plus spaghetti equals awesomeness btw). Are you snoozin’ yet? Cause I am.

The only semi-exciting thing that happened was The Chef and I having a nightcap at our beloved bar, The Ale and the Witch.

We love this place. Even though I’m not a beer drinker I still love me some cider.

 

There was live music, which was lovely and the courtyard was hoppin’. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day.

I wouldn’t expect too much excitement from us in the next few weeks since we’re hoarding our money in order to save up for our trip to Portland next month. SO excited, and you can bet we’ll be eating our brains out over there so I want to have the monies to do so.

So with the lack of excitement here’s a bit of an informational bit for you…

Resisting Snacks at Work

I love people who bring goodies to work. And I hate them at the same time. It’s always a nice gesture to bring in cookies or donuts for co-workers to snack on during the day, but hunny, it’s not doing anything for my figure.

However, I am usually pretty good at resisting office goodies. There’s one department that has goodies A LOT and I have to walk by them on my way to the bathroom. I have the opportunity to grab and go, but I just keep walking. As soon as I’m back to my desk the yummy treat is not even on my mind anymore. I truly believe in out of sight, out of mind. It works for me at least.

But it’s a different story if something is in my department and I have to stare at…all. day.

Some tips?

1. Always make sure to pack healthy snacks. Seriously. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but just do it. There’s a lot of times where I forget so I always make sure to leave any snacks I bring from home in my office. So they’re always there. Nuts, dried fruit, whole fruit, carrots and hummus, yogurt, etc.

2. Always eat a hearty, filling lunch. Don’t eat like a rabbit. Have a lunch filled with protein, healthy carbs and color. That way your tummy won’t be rumbling an hour after you eat.

3. Chug water. Down 8-16 oz and then see how you feel. Most of us confuse hunger for thirst.

4. If you still can’t pry your eyes from the goods, go ahead and have it. But only take half. Enough for a taste.

Or you can be like me today and say screw it, I want that damn donut.

(Yes, I’m a little kid and I love sprinkles. Especially cute little pumpkin sprinkles.)

I had a good lunch, I chugged water and I have healthy snacks. But I’ve been good on the sweets department lately (oddly enough) so I figured one donut was not going to kill me. Especially when we haven’t had any dessert in the house for a few weeks, except popsicles. And those don’t count because they’re the whole fruit ones and I consider them semi-healthy.

The main thing is to try and stay away from foods that are uber processed and that serve no nutritional value to your body. But every once and awhile I believe it’s ok to give yourself a treat. Especially when you’ve been “good”.

Conversation Starter: Any additional tips on avoiding office goodies? When someone brings a goodie in do you dig in or decline?

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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙂

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  (also at my request).

My birthday cupcake 🙂

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 🙂 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 restaurant 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 🙂