Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Seminole Hard Rock St. Petersburg Distillery Co Dinner

Hi friends! Last Thursday, my husband Gabe and I were able to take a break from our renovation and unpacking with a fabulous pairing dinner at Council Oak, located inside of Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. Once a month, Council Oak hosts an innovative 4 course meal, paired with featured craft cocktails, wine or beer. This month's feature was local, award winning St. Petersburg Distillery.
The menu was carefully selected by Chef Dave Puata and it was one of our favorite Council Oak pairing dinners to date.
We started the night off with a vodka based cocktail called The White Oak. It was a play on the cosmo, made with white cranberry and St. Germaine. The vodka used was award winning St Pete Distillery Banyan Reserve. It was absolutely delicious - and smoking!

While sipping on the delicious cocktail, we sampled 3 small bites - Conch Fritters, Purple Potato Latke and  Scallop Ceviche. It was a great start to a delicious meal.
The 1st course was incredible and a perfect blend of flavors. Chef Dave took Grilled Cobia and placed it on top of English pea risotto with a heirloom tomato jam, shaved radish, beet leaves. The tomato jam was off the chain and this dish was perfection.
Course One was paired with another perfect cocktail, the Lavender Bee's Knees made with St. Pete Distillery Tropical Gin. I am not a Gin person but I would order this drink again in a heart beat.
The 2nd course was a Braised Berkshire pork cheek with smoked Gouda polenta, a blood orange mostarda, arugula salad and Port Wine-molasses jus. Every aspect of this dish worked amazingly together making for perfect bite after perfect bite.
The second course was paired a St. Pete Punch made with St. Pete Distillery Righteous Rum & Spice. At first sip, I was instantly transported to the Caribbean - which was perfect as we are leaving for a Cruise in 2 days!
The 3rd course was unlike any piece of meat I've ever had. My husband is still talking about it nearly a week later. Chef Dave took a Smoked Beef Rib and gave it a spice rub with a Coffee-Chipotle Barbecue Glaze, Crispy Smashed Marble Potato, Goat Cheese, Red Wine Vinaigrette. The only way I can begin to explain this cut of meat is the tenderness of a filet mignon with the flavor of a Rib Eye. The beef on the bone was like a short rib, which I took home with me and used to make a hash for brunch over the weekend! They nailed every aspect of this entree.
The third course was paired with a Strawberry Whiskey made with St. Pete Distillery Sweet Corn Whiskey. My husband is a Whiskey drinker, I am not. However, this drink was amazing and we both loved it.
The 4th course - AKA the course where I had no idea how I could possibly fit any more food into my body but somehow did. Pastry Chef Stephen Schubert is a mad scientest and this dish instantly disappeared. Seriously though - Grand Royal Chocolate Mousse, Passion Fruit Toffee, Lime Sable Crumbles, Coconut Lime Gelato, Banana Lime Compote. It is to no surprose that Chef Schubert is going to compete at the World Pastry Competition next month. It would be a surprise to me if he didn't win the entire thing.
The fourth course was paired with a St. Pete Distillery Royal Mead Honey Wine. Once again, Council Oak hosted a perfectly paired dinner. We enjoyed live entertainment by local artist, Jac of All Trades, who I wish played at our wedding. He sang everything from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to Andrea Bocelli. Crazy talent!

Follow the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa blog for details on the next dinner, which is taking place on September 22nd.

Friday, August 12, 2016

St. Petersburg Distillery Co. pairing dinner at Council Oak, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

On Thursday, August 18, Council Oak at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa will host a pairing dinner with  St. Petersburg Distillery! I've been fortunate to attend a few of the amazing pairing dinners at Council Oak and excited to see a local distillery being featured!
The event will start off at 6:30 with Hors D'oeuvres and cocktails, followed by an innovative dinner by Chef Dave Puatu.

Hors D’oeuvres
Conch Fritters
Purple Potato Latke
Scallop Ceviche
St. Pete Distillery Banyan Reserve Gluten Free Vodka

1st COURSE
Grilled Cobia, English Pea Risotto, Heirloom Tomato Jam, Shaved Radish, Beet Leaves
St. Pete Distillery Tropical Gin

2nd COURSE
Braised Berkshire Pork Cheek, Smoked Gouda Polenta, Blood Orange Mostarda, Arugula Salad, Port Wine-Molasses Jus
St. Pete Distillery Righteous Rum & Spice

3rd COURSE
Smoked Beef Rib, Spice Rub, Coffee-Chipotle Barbecue Glaze, Crispy Smashed Marble Potato, Goat Cheese, Red Wine Vinaigrette
St. Pete Distillery Sweet Corn Whiskey

4th COURSE
Grand Royal Chocolate Mousse, Passion Fruit Toffee, Lime Sable Crumbles, Coconut Lime Gelato, Banana Lime Compote
St. Pete Distillery Royal Mead Honey Wine
Each guest will take home a bottle of St. Pete Distillery Banyan Reserve Gluten Free Vodka which was recently awarded 2016 Best Artisan Vodka - Southern Living Magazine.

There will be live entertainment by local artist JAC of all Trades

Limited tickets are available at $221 per person, which includes taxes and gratuity. Reserve your seat now by calling 813-627-6630.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Kitchen Makeover Sneak Peek and DIY Essential Oil Cleaner

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GiveItASparkle #CollectiveBias

There have been some big changes happening in my world! My husband Gabe and I just bought a house. What an emotional ride that process was!!! After 10 contracts that didn't go through, we ended up in a house that is perfect for us. The house was built in 2005 and was a rental for the past 5 years so it needed some updating. The kitchen needs a makeover, the flooring needs to be completely redone and the bathrooms need a face-lift.

We have a small budget for the updates and Gabe insists on doing everything himself (which means my poor father in-law has been here every weekend, working his tail off). Needless to say, we've been pretty busy since closing day. We are getting close to finishing up our kitchen makeover. Although we have some things left to do (flooring and backsplash) I wanted to give you a sneak peek of our progress.
Cabinets: The cabinets were in very good condition other than me not liking the color so we refinished them from a natural oak to a light grey (I will do a separate post on that!).
Appliances: We got new appliances prior to closing, taking advantage of an insane 4th of July sale. We ended up saving nearly $3k on the set which also took up a big chunk of our budget (full kitchen and washer / dryer). We pushed out the delivery date to the day after closing and my Mom lent us the money since you aren't allowed to make any big purchases prior to closing.
Paint: The walls in the kitchen were a mustard color so that was quick to go. The before photo above doesn't show how mustard it was. Since the kitchen already had granite, we decided to keep it and chose a neutral color that also worked well with the cabinets.
Backsplash: This task is not complete and has turned out to be the biggest decision we are making in the kitchen! Apparently we do not have the same taste when it comes to backsplashes. Wish me luck!
Flooring: We will use the same wood laminate in the kitchen that we're putting in the living room and master bedroom. It's a darker wood and will work really well with the lighter wall and cabinets.
Window Treatment: We have 4 small pocket windows above the fridge that bring in a lot of natural light. They have no treatments on them - not sure if we want to purchase blinds that match the rest of the house or do something different. Any suggestions on this are welcome!
Giving your kitchen a makeover is a lot of work but is also fun. I loved being part of the process and seeing all the progress made each day. There are times you get frustrated and want to quit but every time I look in that kitchen, I think of all the hard work put into it.
Our granite decided it wanted to join the paint party and got a few spots on it. Luckily I was able to get the paint spots off with ocelo™ No-Scratch Scrub Sponges which are gentle enough to use on delicate surfaces.
When I first saw the paint marks, I panicked. Our granite is black and the paint is a cream/grey color. There was no hiding it and I didn't want to risk scratching! I found the ocelo™ scrub sponges in a 6 pack at Super Target and gave it a try. They did the job!
Instead of using store bought cleaner, I decided to make a DIY cleaner using my favorite essential oils. I love that they are all natural and you can make them with whatever scent you prefer. Lemongrass is my all time favorite oil, it reminds me of being in a spa and I use it on almost everything. Nothing like catching a little zen while cleaning! Aside from lemongrass, floral scented oils such as rose and lavender also are also great for all purpose cleaners.
It's super easy (and cheap!) to make your own all purpose cleaner and has only three ingredients. In less than 60 seconds, you will have an all purpose cleaner using your favorite essential oil!

As I mentioned, I picked up my ocelo™ no-scratch scrub sponges from Super Target which happens to be located right down the street from our house in Tampa.

These are the only sponges I use and they're great for delicate surfaces without scratching and ideal for glassware, china, stainless steel, non-stick cookware, glassware, china, and bathroom tile. Plus they come in cute bright designs.

Click here to save $0.50 off One ocelo™ Scrub Sponge Multi-pack.

Stay tuned for more house updates! I will be posting all of our projects on here with tutorials on how we did it. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Florida Resident Discount at Hyatt Regency Orlando

Hello August! Where did you come from? August in Florida is an amazing time to be a resident. Most of your resorts offer resident weekend discounts and amusement park blackout dates are a thing of the past. While most in the country are getting ready for the kids to go back to school, the locals are able to take advantage and extend their summer a few additional weeks.
My friends at Hyatt Regency Orlando have the perfect excuse to extend your summer and stay at a AAA Four Diamond Orlando Hotel. Hyatt Regency Orlando is currently offering Florida residents a 10% savings on best available hotel rates and late check-outs. Click here for more info!
We love staying at Hyatt Regency Orlando - it is convenient to all the theme parks and right off of the updated area on I-Drive (walking distance to bars and restaurants). Aside from location, Hyatt Regency Orlando also happens to be home of our favorite steakhouse in O-Town, Fiorenzio.
“Late summer is the best time to visit Orlando,” said Chris Collins, director of sales and marketing at Hyatt Regency Orlando. “From our convenient location on International Drive, minutes from Orlando’s best theme parks, attractions, dining and entertainment, Florida residents can afford more fun with exclusive savings on select weekends in August and September.”
Hyatt Regency Orlando has 1,639 luxurious guest rooms, including 192 suites. A perfect place to take a romantic weekend getaway, a girls (or guys) weekend, or the nicest centralized location for taking a theme park getaway. Plus if you are a foodie or wine lover, you will love this place. Urban Tide was recently named one of Orlando's best restaurants. Wine Enthusiast named them one of the best Wine Travel Destinations. And New York Times named them one of the 52 places to visit in 2015.
Florida Residents rates start from $139, plus tax and resort fee, with valid Florida ID. For more information and reservations, please visit http://orlando.regency.hyatt.com or call 407.284.1234. Also be sure to follow Hyatt Regency Orlando for the latest specials and events! Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Ol' Bay Burger at Hard Rock Cafe, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Hard Rock Cafe Tampa recently announced the Ol' Bay Burger, their latest Local Legendary Burger. This burger was created by Chef Doug of Hard Rock Cafe. The Ol' Bay Burger consist of a house made 8oz burger seasoned with old bay topped with a jumbo lump crab cake, Jack Cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and house made “Davy Jones” sauce. We had a chance to try it the other night and it was incredible!
How did this burger get on the menu? There was a month long contest that was held internally throughout Seminole Hard Rock Tampa’s Food and Beverage department. Several employees took part in the contest and five finalist got to have theirs taste tested and voted on by Hard Rock team members. Chef Doug's Ol' Bay Burger won and is now featured as the Local Legendary Burger on the Hard Rock Cafe Tampa menu!
While we were at Hard Rock Cafe Tampa, we had a chance to try out some specialty cocktails. Gabe got one of the Jam Session featured cocktails which came with a souvenir Hard Rock Mason Jar glass for $14.99. Meanwhile, I got the Triple Platinum Margarita (Sauza Tres Generaciones Plata Tequila, Cointreau and Grand Marnier).
We also enjoyed live music by Cutty Jones while dining. Seminole Hard Rock Tampa lists all their live performances on their calendar of events. If you are looking for a fun and delicious night out, I strongly suggest a visit to Hard Rock Cafe Tampa - and get the Ol' Bay Burger!

Follow Seminole Hard Rock Tampa: Blog |Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CeSar Caipirinha Recipe by Loews Don CeSar

I cannot believe the Rio 2016 Olympic's start next Friday! I will be glued to my TV cheering on Team USA! My friends over at Loews Don CeSar created a delicious cocktail for the Olympics, The CeSar Caipirinha available for a limited time (August 5-21). If you find yourself in the area (visiting or local), stop by Rowe Bar and give the CeSar Caipirinha a try! If not, you're in luck as I have the recipe for you!
Inspired by the traditional Brazilian cocktail, below is the CeSar Caipirinha recipe that Loews Don CeSar is serving up for guests to enjoy during their visit or recreate at home:

CeSar Caipirinha featured at the Rowe Bar

Ingredients
1.5oz Leblon Cachaça
6-8 Cubes of Pineapple- cut pineapple into ¾ in cubes
.5oz Kiwi Simple Syrup*
Tablespoon of fresh lime juice - optional
Ice
Pineapple wedge

Instructions
In a short glass combine the pineapple cubes with kiwi simple syrup and use a muddler to gently crush and squeeze out the pineapple juice.
Add the cachaca, ice and, lime juice-shake well with cocktail shaker. Serve immediately garnished with a pineapple wedge. Add additional ice if needed.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend Medals Released

Today is the day I've been waiting for! The inaugural Disnelyand Paris Half Marathon Weekend Medals have been released!

During the 2015 runDisney Princess Half Marathon, they announced the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. This would be runDisney's first international event. My friend Nicole and I instantly started listening intently. When they mentioned the dates, September 24-26, we both got starry eyed. That is my anniversary weekend and it will be the weekend following Nicole's wedding. SOOOO it was a no-brainer.
Night one of our honeymoon, September 2014
In less than two months, my husband Gabe and I will be heading back to Paris, where we kicked off our honeymoon two years ago to run the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. We will meet up with Nicole and her brand new husband - and crash their honeymoon for a few days! Gabe and I will also be spending our second anniversary in Paris! After spending 5 nights in Paris, Gabe and I will head over to Amsterdam for a few days. We cannot wait.

The runDisney Paris medals are PERFECT - but it's the fleur de lis on both the Castle to Château and the Half Marathon that made me squeal (literally). We got married in New Orleans and we have fleur de lis all throughout our house. It's a special symbol that means so much to us.

All Photos rights of Disney Parks Blog
The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon medals were released today and they blew my expectations away! Let's chat about the big dog first - the Castle to Château which is what pushed me to sign up and take this trip. This challenge combines a race in the United States, either at Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World, and a race in the heart of Disneyland Paris. This will be my FIRST Castle to Castle medal and I squealed when I saw it. The "Castle to Château" medal features the unique design of the French park's icon. The two countries’ flags symbolize the extraordinary feat and French-style gilding highlights the prestige of achieving this challenge. Runners who have completed the half-marathon both at Disneyland Paris and in one of the runDisney races at Disneyland Resort California or Walt Disney World Florida in the same calendar year will be awarded this additional medal.
The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Medal reminds me a great deal of the Disney World Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon Medal's mixed into one! The Half Marathon medal gives pride of place to Mickey, who proudly takes on the challenge of the route around Sleeping Beauty Castle. This gold medal with fleur de lys detail is both magical and prestigious.
The Disneyland 5K medal may be the cutest 5k medal Disney has ever produce and I seriously regret not signing up for it. REMY! Proud of the success of his tasty attraction, the hero of Ratatouille takes pride of place on the first Disneyland Paris 5K medal.
Finally, the runDisney kids race features Mickey! For the weekend's youngest runners, Mickey is in great shape and full color for his appearance on this medal! The ideal reward for little participants in the special runDisney kids races.

Make sure you follow runDisney on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram as we share more about this exciting event. For more information on the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend click here!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Rock n Roll Marathon Virtual Race Series - Making a Band

Have you always wanted to participate in a Rock n Roll Marathon series event but couldn't make it to one of their destinations? Here is your chance to get gorgeous medals while virtually running with some really cool people. The Rock n Roll Marathon Series recently announced "Making a Band", a virtual series of three 5K races you can do anywhere and anytime! If you live in the south, this is a great way to stay motivated during the hot summer months.

Here are a few reasons I love virtual races:
Flexibility
No lines
Run at your pace
Awesome medals
Online cheering squad
Runner Perks
Save Money!

Making the Band consist of three 5K's during the summer. Guitar Solo, Drum Solo and Lead Singer. If you register for Making a Band you get all three medals and a bonus medal!

GUITAR SOLO: JUN 26 – JUL 20 $29.99
Start your summer off with a Guitar Solo! Jam out as you rock a 5K from anywhere you want! Get a medal for your run and a personalized finisher zone! Let’s Rock this Run!

DRUM SOLO: JUL 21 – AUG 14 $29.99
It’s time for your Drum Solo! Get up and run with your favorite music through a park, on a treadmill, or wherever works for you! Get a medal for your run and a personalized finisher zone! Let’s Start Drumming!

LEAD SINGER: AUG 15 – SEP 05 $29.99
Finish your summer with an epic 5K Run! Whether you are headed back to school or back from vacation, rock this run! Get a medal for your run and a personalized finisher zone! Belt out this run!

MAKING A BAND: $99
Want to make your own Rock ‘n’ Roll track? Register for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Run- Making a Band for $99 and run all three races and you’ll get a 4th Bonus Medal! Run with friends, on a treadmill or with your local running group. You’ll receive all 3 medals and a bonus 4th medal for Making A Band!

RUNNER PERKS!
If amazing medals weren't enough, here are a few other reasons you should participate in the Rock n Roll Marathon Series Virtual Race.
Discounts! Because who doesn't like saving money
Win Prizes! Share your runs using #RnRVirtualRun for a chance to win awesome prizes and entry in to a Rock ‘n’ Roll event!

Friday, June 24, 2016

2 Days in Savannah #VisitSavannah

A few weeks ago, my husband Gabe and I went to Savannah GA for my Birthday. Savannah is a very easy drive from Florida and took us less than 5 hours (including a few stops). We had a fantastic time and wished for a few additional days of exploration. If you find yourself in Savannah for only 2 days, here are a few must visits:
Explore the Squares!
After arriving in Savannah, Gabe and I took a walk down Riverwalk. We grabbed a drink, visited some of the shops and made our way up to the many squares located in Savannah. There are 22 squares throughout Savannah (originally 24), all of which have a piece of history behind them. I do however, strongly suggest wearing closed toe shoes in Savannah. The cobblestones are no joke and my big toe lost a battle against it. Two weeks later, I still cannot wear sneakers, meaning my marathon training has taken a major delay. More on that later!


Take a Trolley Tour
Trolley Tours are a fantastic way to see the city. They have a hop on hop off route through all the cities landmarks and give you a piece of history throughout your drive.


Go on a Ghost Tour
Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in the US so you cannot visit without taking a Ghost Tour. Even if you don't believe in the paranormal, ghost tours do give you a bit of history and hear stories of Savannah's most interesting families and events. You can take ghost tours in the day or at night. We did two different ghost tours - a ghost pub crawl and a ghost trolley tour. I do wish we chose more of a paranormal experience vs. the tours. The Pub crawl was more about going to the next bar vs. hearing stories where the trolley was very long drawn out stories. That's a fun part of Savannah, there are so many different tours, there is always going to be something for everyone.


Take a River Cruise
A River Cruise is a great way to see Savannah by water. Savannah Riverboat cruises offer a few different options, lunch, brunch, dinner, narrated harbor sightseeing cruise, sunset cruise and moonlight cruise. We did the harbor sightseeing cruise and even saw a canon being fired from a fort.



Visit Forsyth Park
During your trip to Savannah, be sure to take a trip over to Forsyth Park. You can even have a picnic while there. We stopped by on our way out of town on Sunday. The park wasn't too crowded and it was the perfect time to go.
EAT!
There are so many different restaurants in Savannah. I had two amazing meals - both of which names may not blow your socks off.
A.Lure Meatloaf, ground filet mignon, foie gras, caramelized onions, roasted garlic cauliflower puree, black truffle mushroom madeira demi glace. I ate every bit of it.
On the second night, we dined at Girabaldi's, what was my favorite restaurant in Charleston. The dish, Crispy Diamond Scored Flounder was every bit as delicious as I remember it with Apricot Shallot Sauce, Orzo Provencal, Julienne Vegetables.
We had a slice of Pizza at Vinnie Van Go Go's which was was delicious and now I want Pizza for lunch.
You cannot come to Savannah without getting Ice Cream at Leopold's. Yes it is worth the 45 minute line. Yes, their ice cream is that good.
We also tried two of the 200 martini's served at Jen's and Friends.

Other places not to miss are The Olde Pink HouseMrs. Wilkes Dining Room, if you can't make it to Mrs. Wilkes (not open on the weekends) you can get a delicious southern buffet at Paula Deen's Lady and Sons restaurantVic's on the River is always a crowd favorite and Rocks on the River has the best sunset you will find in Savannah - grab a cocktail up on their rooftop.

Check out the Sunset
We saw two spectacular sunsets on our trip. Be sure to check out what time the sun sets as it seemed to set much later than in does FL. Odd!