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!





What’s Going On?

6 02 2015

And I said HEY-YEA-YEAH -YEAH…anyone else singing that song? Just me? Oh. Ok.

Anywho- I figured I’d check in with a life update- I know, super exciting for a Friday post, but hey, you gotta take writing inspiration where you find it.

Fitness:

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I’m still struggling to find my run mojo. I ran a few times in December, and both times I did my “normal” 4k loop around my house. Unfortunately, I’m so out of shape that my calves were sore for several days after and that killed my desire to run. However, I ran earlier this week, just 2k this time, and a) no soreness and b) I actually wanted to go for another run, but rain and my yoga challenge got in the way. I guess technically I could have run on the treadmill, but who wants to do that when it’s perfect running weather outside?

Speaking of my yoga challenge, I’ve got 9 days left (well, I guess 8 by the time this publishes)- and I have to make ALL of them in order to get my 21 days in. I’ve missed 3 classes because I chose not to go (lazy!) and the studio was closed for Gasparilla and then the city shut off the neighborhood’s water so classes were cancelled. Thankfully, they’ve added one more day to the challenge to make up for the unexpected closing. I’ve really enjoyed regularly practicing yoga; however, I do find myself missing my beloved cardio. It’s too bad because the classes I like to go to just so happen to be at the same time I’d normally run (since I haven’t been able to get my butt out of bed in the morning to run). I’m glad I’ve learned this, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a 5x per week yogi.

Fun:

So I mentioned Gasparilla above- and for those of you who don’t know, Tampa has a festival every year at the end of January, where we “celebrate” the pirate Jose Gaspar and his “rule” over southwest Florida. Basically, beginning right after New Years, all things pirate-themed start popping up in Tampa. Houses are decorated, costumes are sold, and beads- tons and tons of beads are commonplace. It’s basically Mardi Gras with pirates. It just so happens to always be around my birthday, but since being in Tampa, I’ve never actually been a part of the festivities.

This year, I made a point to at least check out the parade. Drunken debauchery isn’t really my thing, but I really just wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Bill and I stopped at my friend Jennica’s house for some food and drinks before heading over to Bayshore to catch some of the parade.

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Oh, it’s also an excuse to dress up, which can be kind of fun!

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Holy masses of people. The crowd for the parade was probably about 10 feet deep, before it thinned enough to walk through, and the majority of people had been drinking since 9am (or earlier)- it was after 3 by this point.

Bill and I walked along the outskirts of the crowd, people watching, and occasionally grabbing some beads thrown from the floats. I noticed that there were a ton of police officers from surrounding counties there- there were so many people, the reinforcements were necessary. There were a few occasions where I saw a police officer hovering over some poor drunk person who was vomiting in the streets. Gross. Keep it classy Tampa.

The parade? To be perfectly honest, I thought it was pretty lame- just floats (some fancier than others) where people were throwing beads. Yay? We were there for maybe an hour before deciding we’d had enough and headed to one of our friend’s houses.

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The one thing that struck me as we rode home for the night was what I’ll call carnage- there were beads, cups, trash, and just loads of stumbling people all over town, hours after the parade had ended. It certainly is quite the day in Tampa, but I think I’ll stick to going to friend’s parties away from the mess of the parade.

And finally, Food:

Trader Joes is my jam y’all. The other night for dinner, I nom’d on wine, cheese, and other crudités. Have you guys had the caramelized onion cheddar from TJ’s yet? OMG I could eat it all in one sitting! And those cherry peppers? The perfect combination of sweet and heat!

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Another night, I went to TJ’s hungry, had a bite of what they were sampling, and hook-line and sinker the ingredients ended up in my cart.

IMG_7666Veggie Masala burgers with peach chutney (mixed with some Greek Yogurt) served on some of their frozen naan? DELISH! If I hadn’t taken the time to make the sweet potato fries, this would have been a complete meal in 10 minutes. Easy peasy.
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Another frozen section find: Vegetable Fried Rice. Bill and I could live on fried rice from Kombo Kitchen (me: pineapple fried rice; him: thai fried rice), so we decided to give TJ’s a go. I stir fried it in my wok, and doctored it up with some soy sauce, tempeh, tomatoes, and some frozen green peppers. It was really tasty, but it wasn’t Kombo. IMG_7681

And finally, there is nothing better than a warm croissant and a good cup of joe. Well, maybe if they were pumpkin croissants, which is what I got from TJs. I think they are typically a fall special, but the last time I was at TJs there were a few boxes left, so I grabbed one. They’re frozen, and come 4 to a package. You need to take them out the night before, lay them on a buttered baking sheet, and in the morning, they’ll have doubled in size (or even tripled!) and they’re ready to bake. As long as you remember to take them out the night before, this is SUCH a delicious and easy breakfast. They’re warm, buttery, and there’s just enough of this pumpkin pie-like filling. Breakfast perfection. And cheaper than the croissants at Starbucks. Win. Win.
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So, what’s been going on with you?





Top Gun Triathlon 2014

22 08 2014

So, I owe you guys a race report. Yes, I realize that August is almost over, and I raced Top Gun in July, but better late than never, right?

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The Thursday before the race, a deal I couldn’t pass up came my way for the hot pink Rudy racing helmet I’ve been drooling over for past year. I paid the extra shipping to have it overnighted so that I could race with it on Saturday.  I think they look so silly, but I’ll take the little bit of extra speed any day!

I picked up my packet on the Friday night before the race, surprised to see that we got race tattoos and a silicone cap. Dear race director: Silicone caps for July races in Florida are a DUMB idea. I was overheating standing on shore waiting for my wave. And race tattoos? This is a local sprint, not a 70.3 or Age Group Nationals. Is that really necessary?

Okay, okay, I understand that for some those are perks of this race, and that’s why they do it, so I’ll end my rant there.

Anyhow, my morning alarm came way too early. 7:00am start time for the first wave and nearly an hour drive to get there meant a wake up time that began with a 4. OOf.

 

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I arrived at Ft. DeSoto and used my cell phone flashlight to guide my path over to transition since it was still dark out. Thankfully transition had a bunch of flood lights on, so I could get myself set up. I filled my hydration bladder, started drinking my PreLoad, and made sure everything was set before wandering around transition to see my friends. Soon enough, it was time to head down to the water.

I looked at the flags and was disappointed, as I always am with sprints. The swim was just so short (but I think it actually was longer than when I raced two years ago!)- how was I going to get any advantage there? Sigh. I warmed up, swimming nearly the entire course, and then got out and waited for my wave. We started late and my wave was one of the latter ones, so it just felt like forever until I actually got to go! Finally, the gun went off!

Swim: 6:51 (1st female)

I lined up to the right of the pack, since that was closest to the buoy. We’d be going against the current for a very short time to get to that first buoy, so no sense in making it longer! I was out in front with a few other girls, but kept my stroke strong and steady. Shortly after making the turn and the first buoy on the straight, I started passing people from the waves in front of me. Hello men doing backstroke, breasstroke, kicking their little legs away, and just floating there. Sheesh. I tried to stick as close to the buoy line as possible, and definitely ran in to some people doing that. I didn’t have a good idea of where I was within the pink caps, but I knew there were definitely girls on my tail. I picked up my pace, turned the last buoy and didn’t stop swimming until my hand hit the ground. I popped up and hightailed it out of the water.

T1: 3:15

Hello long transition. As I ran up the beach I remembered that Ft. DeSoto races have such a ridiculously long run to get to transition. Add to that the fact that they’re paving the parking lot where transition usually sits, so transition was move a little further away than usual- and it makes for one long run! On my way in to transition, I was passed by Brittany Pierce, and I did a little happy dance, because I beat a pro on the swim!

Bike: 25:53

I grabbed my bike, helmet, and sunglasses and hit the road. My goal for the bike was to give it all I had to see how fast I would actually go. The bike is about 9.5 miles on a one loop course. I didn’t wear my watch, I wasn’t looking at numbers, I just wanted to get out there and go. At about 7 miles or so (if I remember correctly) I was passed by another female. Darn it. I kept pushing, and didn’t let anyone else pass me. I don’t think there was anything else memorable to report on that short bike!

T2: 1:02

I got in and out as fast as I could here. In transition, I saw the girl that had passed me on the bike, and I was determined to get out before her. (I did- she was in there for 1:42!)

Run: 25:19

I was really hoping to average 7:XX per mile on this, so at first when I saw my split, I was disappointed. But then I learned that the run was a bit longer than a 5K, so my average was actually better than I thought. My goal for the run was to have a better run than I did 2 years ago, when I had to stop and walk. It was hot, but I was not going to give in. I knew that the only woman in front of me was Brittany, so I had a chance to be one of the top females overall. I just put one foot in front of the other and kept ticking off the runners in front of me. Thank you late wave. I had no clue what pace I was holding, since I didn’t wear a watch, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to keep going. With about half a mile to go, I was passed by a woman in a blue tri kit. I immediately looked to her calf, and saw she was in my age group. My heart sank. I thought about slowing some, but told myself no, that I was going to finish strong. I was hurting and very hot, but I only had a half mile to go- I can do this! I forged ahead and soon, I finally saw the finish line. Thank goodness- it was over!

Total: 1:02:19, 2AG, 4th F OA (I think)

Overall, I was quite happy with how the day went. I dropped time in the bike and run from 2012, and I’m pretty sure the swim was longer this year. I would have loved another 1st place podium spot, but 2nd ain’t so bad;-)

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