Birthday Weekend Fun

1 02 2016

On Friday, I turned 33. Thirty three is such a weird age/number to me. I like even numbers (my favorite number is 2) or multiples of 5. And 31 isn’t so bad because you’ve survived your first year in your thirties. But thirty three? It’s kinda like your sophomore year: that awkward, in-between year that just isn’t very special.

But, I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who made this birthday extra special and I’m so thankful for that!

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On Friday, my actual birthday, I started off my day with a cup of coffee in my new favorite mug from World Market.

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I don’t think you could drink from this mug and NOT be happy. It was a great way to start my day!

Later in the afternoon, Bill and I went to Ybor to enjoy a late lunch/early dinner at a fantastic Italian restaurant called Bernini’s.

They were serving $2 martinis ’til 7. Yes, please!

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We shared this amazing Caprese salad, made with Burrata cheese (LOVE!) with a white truffle balsamic reduction on top. It was so delicious!

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We topped off the night with a show! We saw the Hellcats Burlesque troupe perform at a bar in town. It was fun to get dressed up and see one of our friends perform!

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On Saturday, I knew Bill had something else planned, but he hadn’t told me what. I picked up on a few clues along the way, but he did a great job of keeping it a secret!

I started my morning with a spin on the trainer- I knew that I’d likely be eating well today (i.e. cake, cheese, wine, etc.) and I didn’t want to feel too badly about it after. I would have gone for a nice long run, but unfortunately, I sprained my ankle last weekend and haven’t been able to run:-( (Side note, looks like BDR will be a DNS for me. Side note #2- Of course I had to include a sweaty selfie in this post).

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In late afternoon, it was time to get ready. Bill and our friend Domenique helped me pick out an appropriate outfit, after finally spilling where our first stop would be: Ciro’s Speakeasy.

It must be noted that this weekend is also Gasparilla weekend in Tampa. Gasparilla is like a pirate-themed Mardi Gras here. I went to the parade last year and though I’m glad I went once, I really don’t have a desire to go again. Huge crowds, lots of traffic, drunk people EVERYWHERE. No thanks.

Well, Ciro’s is just two blocks off the parade route. Though the parade had ended several hours before, the party was still going strong, making it kind of a nightmare to get there. With a crazy stroke of luck, we were actually able to find parking a few blocks away. Seriously, it was like something out of the movies- cue the angels singing and lights glowing. Unfortunately, some of my other friends weren’t so lucky in the parking department and ended up throwing in the towel. I totally don’t blame them- they were there in spirit!

We got into our cozy booth and ordered some cheese fondue and fancy cocktails.

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Bill then gave me the most thoughtful gift anyone has ever given me. He said, “It’s Steph Appreciation Day” and he had asked friends and family to contribute. Basically, he asked them to anonymously write a few words or sentences or a paragraph, about what they appreciate about me. The idea sprung from a conversation we had had months earlier, about how we go through life and never really hear how appreciated we are until it’s too late. Doesn’t it bring you such joy, knowing that someone really thinks your awesome? So why aren’t we spreading that joy all the time? Why aren’t we making people feel special, loved, and important while they’re still here on this earth to bask in that wonderful feeling?

Yup. That’s my boyfriend. He’s pretty amazing.

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I spent the next part of the evening reading each one aloud, with many stops for tears and laughter. It was quite emotional! Anyone and everyone who is reading this: Please replicate this with a loved one in your life. You will not regret it!

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This was after reading the notes. I was happy that most of my makeup stayed put!

After our time at Ciro’s, we went to Edison food + drink lab where we shared an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert. Everything was delicious, but the dessert stole the show! We got the sugar-crusted butter cake with brown butter ice cream, pistachio, orange, and toffee sauce. OMG this was to die for! We cleaned the plate and we all agreed that the ice cream was some of the best we had ever had in our lives.

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Finally, we came home and had second dessert. Because, duh, it’s my birthday and you have to have second dessert on your birthday!

My friend Domenique is an amazing baker and she made a Boston creme pie (cake) from scratch. Chocolate ganache, moist butter cake and that amazing cream filing was the perfect ending to my night.

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Thank you so VERY much to everyone who made my birthday the furthest thing from an awkward, in-between kinda day!

Domenique and Bill- you two are amazing. I am so stinking lucky to have you two in my life!

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Got Cake?

26 04 2011

While Chloe’s weekend theme was go, go, go, my weekend seemed to have an ongoing theme of cake! And who doesn’t like cake?

I had my latest cake decorating job for one of my dearest friend’s boyfriend’s brother. How’s that for several degrees of separation;-)? Anyhow, it was a Chicago Bears themed cake, which despite being a big fan of Chicago as a city, I’m DEFINITELY a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Regardless, I got right to work on his cake, which was pretty fun to make:-) Here’s a peek of the finished product:

The 3-D football on the cake is from the Easter section at Target. It’s a plastic egg filled with candy!

When I baked the cake, I used 2 cake mixes (shh!), which is too much for my one 9″ x 13″ pan. So, I filled two teeny ramekins with the remainder of the mix, and baked them along with the cake. The result was 2 individual sized cakes, aka cupcakes:-) I ate one for breakfast (um, its like a muffin, right?) and decorated the other for my roommate:

I dyed some of my leftover white icing and some coconut shreds, topped it with two peanut butter M & Ms (of course!) and, voila! You’ve got a bird’s nest cupcake:-)

This weekend I went home to my parent’s house for Easter, and of course, my mom went all out with the Easter meal. Friends, it was AH-MAZING. Here’s a pic of my plate:

Starting at 1 o’clock and going clockwise we’ve got: homemade corn souffle, homemade pineapple stuffing (more like a bread pudding, and hands down my favorite part of the meal), homemade apple sauce, homemade mashed potatoes, homemade cole slaw, ham with homemade raisin gravy, sweet potatoes and apples (the only thing besides the ham that wasn’t homemade), zucchini bread and mini blueberry muffins. Whew! Talk about a feast!

And of course, the cake, which was a CHEESEcake;-) Also homemade:

Topped with Easter candies!

Let’s just say I had my fair share of calories on Easter, but it was well worth it. My mom’s an amazing cook:-)

One more cake appeared in my way this weekend. While at home, I went to the Verizon store to get a new phone! Since starting the blog, I’ve been really wanting a smart phone, to keep up with all the social media outlets. Now I can tweet at ‘ya from anywhere; I don’t have to be sitting at my computer!

At the store, I was chatting with a woman who was trying to make the same decision as me: Droid X or iPhone ?

(I went with the iPhone;-) )

We started talking, and somehow food came up (um, that seems to happen with me). The woman mentioned that she liked to bake and she had made some carrot cake muffins for her Easter meal. She happened to have the cupcakes in her car, and she graciously offered one to me and the sales guy, to which I immediately replied, “Sure!” Um, you don’t have to ask me twice!

(Sorry for the blurry picture, this was pre-iPhone)

They were made with baby food, super moist, and topped with a yummy cream cheese icing. She gave me the recipe, so I’ll definitely be making these myself!

Questions of the day:

What is your favorite kind of cake? OR

If you have a smart phone, are you an iPhone user, or Blackberry, or Droid, or something else?





Double, Double

8 04 2011

This week, I (Steph) did my first double. By “double” I mean two workouts in one day. I guess that’s a sign tri season is officially under way!

On Wednesday morning, Chloe and I met at the pool for a swim workout.

Normally we swim at least 3K, but we chatted on deck for 10-15 minutes before getting in, and had to cut our workout short. Whoops. Here’s what we did:

1000 warm up

1 x 400 (free)

4 x 100 (stroke-free; IM order)

1 x 300 (pull)

3 x 100 (free)

100 warm down

Then, we planned to meet after work for a run. Chloe mapped out a 6.2 mile run for us, and to be perfectly honest, I was not super excited about it. Having run 7 miles on Monday I was really only interested in going about 4. We decided to just go for it, and see how the run went. Before we both knew it, we were back to our starting point! I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever had a run fly by that fast.

I guess that’s what you get when you run with a good friend and chat the whole time:-)

Double was the theme for the evening, becuase I went home and made a double batch of gooey butter cake bars. I made one batch by following the recipe, and the second by making a few swaps. Here goes:

Original Gooey Butter Cake Bars (recipe adapted from Summertime Fun Cookbook– compliments of Ann)

Ingredients:

1 box butter-recipe yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened

3 eggs

1 pound powdered sugar

How to:

1) In a bowl, combine cake mix, butter and 1 egg. Mix until crumbly.

2) Press 1/2 of the crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan.

3) In a separate bowl, beat together cream cheese and 2 eggs. When smooth, gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well as you as you go along.

4) Pour into prepared pan.

5) Sprinkle evenly with remaining crumb mixture.

6) Bake at 300º for 1 hour. Let cool completely before cutting.

Dig in.

They’re soooo sweet. But SOOooooo good. Don’t say I didn’t warn you;-)

For my 2nd batch of the day, I made Chocolate Peanut Butter Gooey Cake Bars.

Duh. Chocolate + Peanut butter is one of the best combos ever.

All I did was follow the above recipe, but swap chocolate cake for the butter cake mix, and add about 1/2 to 1 cup of peanut butter to the cream cheese/egg/sugar mixture.

Thank you, I’ll have two…of each…

Hey, I deserve it; I did a double:-)

Question of the day: What do you double up on?