Local Do: Practicing Mindfulness with Art Guy Workshop

by Jennifer Thai in ,

As most of you know, I do (and preach) my very best to live each day with intent - since I both work in the social media realm and maintain this blog and its social presence, it's important for me to be cognizant of the fact that mindfulness should take precedence in this digitally-driven world. And given that I'm kind of pre-disposed to forgetting to live in the moment, considering the environment I've willingly surrounded myself with (you know, taking pictures of my food before I eat it - that kind of stuff), it's nice to have reminders to practice mindfulness and be in the present.

Recently, I connected with Valerie, the owner of Art Guy Workshop, based in Sarasota. We bonded over our mutual passion for mindful living, and she introduced me to her beautiful-crafted lines of towels, ponchos and bags, made from fine textiles imported from Turkey.

Pictured is the Lanai Towel in Royal Blue - it's a heavier weight towel and oh-so-soft, perfect for making your mark on the beach without the gulf breeze blowing it away. Whether beach-side, lake-side or while picnicing, I've been taking my Lanai Towel with me everywhere, and Sadie enjoys cuddling up to it, too!

The story behind the creation of Art Guy Workshop is a heartfelt one:

We have Arthur Guy to thank for that inspiration. He came early, weighing 4 pounds and 2 ounces. He was released from the NICU fifteen minutes later with a clean bill of health. Then came the fight of our lives. My health was deteriorating and our tiny new baby would have to go home without his mom.  My husband and mother stayed at my side in the ICU as I fought for my life, driven to get home to our baby boy. The thought of not being here to watch Arthur grow was unbearable. Two weeks later, I had slowly recovered enough for my doctor to discharge me as I cried and pleaded that only my little family could heal me. And heal me they did. 

We will never forget how precious life is, how amazing friends and family can be, and how important it is to live fully, to be as present as possible in each moment. We often feel that the experience, as awful as it was at the time, was a blessing. We were able to exhibit our strength as a family, we were reminded that every moment in this life is a gift. 

Art Guy is created with love and helps to remind us that it is so great to be HERE.

Valerie has been so kind to offer 15% off your purchase from Art Guy Workshop - all you have to do is enter in code THISJENNGIRL at checkout. Will you join me in living life with intent, practicing mindfulness and living in each and every moment?

*Disclosure: I was provided with the item featured in this post in exchange for editorial consideration. This post was written on my own accord - opinions are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Art Guy Workshop.

Local Do: Tampa Bay Fashion Week 2017

by Jennifer Thai in ,

I live for Tampa Bay Fashion Week's runway show - Tampa's fashion scene is one that deserves to be showcased and honored, and I just love seeing all the gorgeous, insanely-creative looks that come down the runway.

My blogger girlfriend (Annie from Discovering Your Happy) and I sat front row, and although I didn't capture all of the looks, I am going to be sharing my favorites from the runway show - keep scrolling for more fabulousness!

Free People

We had such a lovely time - I always do! Wendy Ohlendorf and Elizabeth Carson Racker are my favorite TBFW designers, and I love seeing what new threads they have to debut for the fall fashion season - they never disappoint! This was my first time seeing Dolce Couture, and I was in awe of the magnificent looks that came down the runway - wow. Just wow.

If you haven't made it out to one of Tampa Bay Fashion Week's signature events, you need to mark off your 2018 calendar, stat!

Shop My Outfit:

Kimono: Marshall's (similar) | Pants: H&M | Heels: Vince Camuto | Purse: Marshall's | Earrings: Sugarfix by Baublebar | Bangle: Bourbon & Boweties | Choker: Modern Mesh

Local Bites: The Hall on Franklin

by Jennifer Thai in ,

This post is long overdue, but it's better enjoyed now than never, right? 

The weekend after its opening, a group of my family and friends stopped by The Hall on Franklin to check out what we knew from the get-go was going to be a hit. Although quite crowded (no, we weren't surprised), we somehow managed to snag seats for all of our party at the corner of Kofe and began our food hall adventure.

A little note before I get into the noms: The bar areas surrounding Bake'n Babes, Kofe and The Collection are up for grabs - if you see a spot, snag it! From there, you can order food/drinks from any of the seven vendors, which food runners will deliver to you. However, you can also opt for traditional seating and table service, and can head to the area in the center of The Hall to request a table.

Now, about the food - it was all amazing. Really, it was. Typically in my 'Local Bites' features, I'll highlight all of what we ordered and single out the items that you must order. In this case, I'll tell you ahead of time - it's all of the below. We were thoroughly impressed with what we ordered - start scrolling!

Kentucky Champagne from The Collection: Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh raspberry pur√©e, lemon and bubbles.

Iced Caramel Latte from Kofe

The Poke Raw at Poke Rose: Tamarind-curry tuna, salmon, cobia, snow peas, mushrooms, cabbage, cucumber kimchi, kelp noodles, radish, chia seeds, sesame-ginger chicken & baby greens salad

Pork Belly Stinky Bunz at North Star Eatery

Soft Shell Crab Banh Mi at North Star Eatery: Fried soft shell crab, fried garlic, fried shallots, brown sugar, pickled vegetables, jalapenos, cilantro, ginger aioli

Pork Ramen at North Star Eatery: Pork broth, roasted mushrooms, fish cake, soft boiled egg and scallions

Tomato Soup and Zucchini Fries from Melt Shoppe

Nutella Liege Waffle at Bake'n Babes

Since this visit, I've been back to The Hall twice now - the only disappointment is that I still have not been able to try the Spicy Hue Style Noodle Soup. One of these days!

If you haven't been able to stop by The Hall of Franklin yet, you must make plans, stat. If you're looking to beat the rush, I recommend stopping in for a bite/drink is between 2-5 p.m.

The Hall on Franklin is located at 1701 North Franklin Street in Tampa. A limited early hours menu, including Kofe and Bake'n Babes is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Hall on Franklin is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the latest updates from The Hall on Franklin, follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

In Review: Colorado

by Jennifer Thai in

I didn't want to wait another minute to share highlights from our flight to Denver and road trip through Colorado for pH's best friend's wedding festivities in Grand Junction and Palisade. Watch our little "postcard" recap below, then scroll through for recaps and snippets of our adventure!

Denver, CO

The flight to Denver was a breeze, and I was in awe of the weather - it was a crisp fall day in the upper 60s, a nice change of pace from the 90-degree temps in Florida. After picking up our rental car, we headed downtown to explore the food scene. The day before our trip, I'd spent some time scouring hashtags and locations on Instagram to build our food itinerary with - when I came across mouthwatering photos of the brunch options at Sassafras American Eatery, I was immediately sold.

We, of course, had to celebrate National Coffee Day right, and I ordered a Southern Maple Pecan Latte while pH ordered a cold brew with almond milk. As for food, I was open to recommendations and our server suggested I try the Cajun Benedict - the Cajun Benedict featured Gulf shrimp and lump crab cakes, fried oysters and house-smoked tasso and crawfish hash, topped with two poached eggs and smoked cayenne hollandaise. My goodness, was it amazing. There were so many flavors within that dish, eat bite was something phenomenal. pH ordered the Chicken Fried Eggs and Buffalo Hash, which featured pecan wood-smoked buffalo hash and two fried, six-minute eggs, atop jalapeno cornbread and topped with Fresno chili hollandaise - this dish, too, was savory and delicious.

Vail, CO

As we headed toward our destination, we made a pit stop in Vail for some coffee at Yeti's Grind. Vail was ridiculously amazing - ridiculous in the sense that parking above 30 minutes cost $20, but amazing in that it's truly like stepping into a whole new world. We took our 45 minutes sipping on lattes and taking in the view.

Grand Junction, CO

We spent the majority of our time in Colorado in the Palisade/Fruita/Grand Junction areas, where the wedding festivities were. Although not the size of Denver, Grand Junction's food scene isn't to be missed - we stopped by the Bin 707 Foodbar during some downtime and were amazed by the food and cocktails. pH thoroughly enjoyed the Bin Whiskey Sour, and I tried something new in the non-alcoholic universe: Peach Shrub and Soda. I'd never tasted drinking vinegar before, and although the virgin cocktail threw me off at first, I really enjoyed sipping on the drink throughout my meal.

To eat, we ordered the Green Chile Pumpkin Tortilla Soup and the Fried Artichoke Hearts. Topped with pepitas and creme fraiche, the soup was absolutely delicious, with the perfect amount of spice, and was the perfect complement to the cold, rainy day. I'm a big fan of artichokes, and the Fried Artichoke Hearts captured my own heart - tempura-fried and served with a lemon and garlic aioli, they were everything my palate desired. With our tummies halfway full after appetizers, we opted to share the Berkshire Pork Tacos - although pork isn't my first choice when it comes to meat, I did enjoy the tacos, although when I return, I'll be giving the Bin Ramen a try.

After lunch, we stopped by Kiln Coffee Bar to wind down and cleanse our palates. The coffee shop specializes in pour over coffee, so we both opted for a Costa Rican blend. Admittedly, we'd never tried a pour over prior to this visit, and after trying Kiln's, I wondered why it took us so long to begin with!

We had such a wonderful time on this mini adventure in Colorado, and I am so grateful to have celebrated love with the man who I love. With Sassafras American Eatery and Bin 707 Foodbar on my mind, I will most definitely be returning to Denver and Grand Junction for more tastes of Colorado.

Loving Lately: September 2017

by Jennifer Thai in , ,

Holy moly, where did September go?! I blame Hurricane Irma for making this month feel like a complete whirlwind - a stressful whirlwind, at that. Fall is here, and this Florida weather is not in sync with the season (you'll hear me complain about this through November, sorry). But, before I forget and leave for Colorado this weekend, I'm sharing the things I've been lovely lately this month:

LIKELY NYC - Manhattan Dress in Scarlet

This oh-so-sexy-yet-sophisticated, classic red dress is a stunner, and I could pretty much find any reason to wear it to any occasion. I'm wearing an XXS in this photo, and it's the perfect fit for my slender curves.

Deputy Kotfila Memorial Dog Park in Channelside

Ever since we went to the grand opening of the Deputy Kotfila Memorial Dog Park in the Channel District, this has been our go-to spot to hang out with Sadie on the weekends. She absolutely loves meeting new furry friends and running around like a crazy pup, all while keeping cool under the shade that the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway provides. Personally, we enjoy not having to endure the sun beating down our backs, either.

Caffeine Roasters Tampa on Kennedy Boulevard

Speaking of weekend hangs, the Caffeine Roasters Tampa location off of Kennedy Boulevard and Armenia Avenue is where we'll head to after Sadie's all worn out from the dog park. I love sipping on a Late Latte and nomming on the delicious menu options (my favorites are the Avocado Egg Salmon Toast and Chicken Pesto Mozzarella Baguette), while Sadie cools off and attracts the oohs-and-ahhs of local dog-lovers.

Lolita's Wine Market in St. Petersburg

If you've yet to check out Lolita's Wine Market in St. Pete, you need to make plans ASAP. It's a charcuterie and cheese lover's dream, and you have the ability to create your own platter - simply choose the size of meat/cheese you want from the fridge, place it in your basket and bring your selections to the bar, where it's all sliced and plated with your selected accoutrements. The wine selection varies by day, and wines are priced by the glass or the bottle.

Latin Lunch Box Food Truck

Okay, so this is not so much a favorite for this month, as it is every month. At the hospital, we have the pleasure of having the Latin Lunch Box, a St. Pete-based food truck, park on campus every Friday for lunch. And each week, I always look forward to Fridays solely for this reason. Between the avocado salad, grilled chicken, beef empanadas and crispy tostones paired with a flavorful pink-orange sauce, you really cannot go wrong.

I'll say a brief 'au revoir,' as we'll be in Colorado for a wedding this weekend, but you can bet I'll be back with some highlights from our trip!

Local Bites: Cassis American Brasserie

by Jennifer Thai in ,

Since I started working in downtown St. Pete at the beginning of this year, I've been making an effort to further explore its food scene, whether through dinner after work or making the drive from South Tampa over the weekends. I'm not even close to being halfway there - slowly, but surely.

I was invited to try the brunch menu at Cassis American Brasserie, a spot I'd heard a lot about from friends who live in St. Pete. The restaurant has a very clean and bright feel, and plenty of natural lighting from its corner location on Beach Drive, which I can definitely dig.

Overwhelmed by all the delicious options, pH and I were finally were able to make our brunch decisions after spending some time taking in the menu. To drink - Ruby Cubes for pH and a non-alcoholic White Cranberry Mojito for myself. To eat - Tomato & Basil Soup and the Meat Lover's Omelet with a side of crispy bacon for pH and French Onion Soup and the Andouille Sausage & Shrimp Ragout for myself.

Keep scrolling below for all the deliciousness!

Ruby Cubes: Four Roses bourbon, orange juice, ginger, lemon juice | White Cranberry Mojito: Mint, limes, white cranberry juice, club soda

French Onion Soup with spiced croutons and gruyere cheese

Tomato & Basil Soup topped with parmesan cheese

Andouille Sausage & Shrimp Ragout: Roasted pepper, caramelized onion, cheddar grits

Meat Lover's Omelet: Breakfast sausage, smoked ham, bacon, cheddar (subbed with goat cheese)

Verdict: We'd definitely return. Warm, friendly service paired with savory selections make for a wonderful brunch experience and Cassis American Brasserie offered just that. The cheddar grits were full of flavor alone, and even more so paired with the sautéed andouille sausage, shrimp and sweet peppers. My keto-friendly man thoroughly enjoyed his low-carb, meat-heavy omelet, so much that there was not one crumb left on his plate.

Cassis American Brasserie is located at 170 Beach Drive Northeast in St. Petersburg. The brunch menu is available daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the lunch menu offered daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cassis is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. For the latest updates from Cassis American Brasserie, follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

*Disclosure: The meal featured in this post was provided by Cassis American Brasserie for editorial consideration. This post was written on my own accord, and opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Cassis American Brasserie.

Local Do: Pet Photo Shoot with AGoldPhoto

by Jennifer Thai in

pH and I are 100% unashamedly pup parents - as in, we treat our little furry one like one would treat his/her human child. And why wouldn't we? These unconditionally loving and patient creatures deserve all the love and attention in the world! 

At the grand opening of the Deputy Kotfila Memorial Dog Park in the Channel District a couple of months ago, I got the opportunity to finally meet and chat with Adam Goldberg, owner of AGoldPhoto Pet Photography, a local pet photographer who tells the story of rescued/adopted animals and promotes animal adoption via his photos. I'd seen a lot of his work on social media prior to us meeting in person, and I really admired his unique style and branding with his photography. He also got to meet our rescue, Sadie, and happened to capture a really great photo of her shortly after the event, which surprised me, because Sadie does not like the camera. 

He invited us to join him during a photo shoot in the upcoming months, and I couldn't resist the idea of having gorgeous photos of Sadie to show off and ooh and ahh over. What I really appreciate about Adam's work, is how he gives back to the animal community. At his events, which are typically hosted at a pet-friendly business or animal shelter, 100% of the sitting fees go back to the animal community, via donation to the local Humane Society or animal charity. And while he is based in Tampa, he often travels around the country offering photo shoots and giving back to local Humane Society chapters and animal shelters. You can view a list of upcoming charity events here. You also have the ability to book an in-home photo shoot, in case your little pupper is easily overwhelmed in new settings  

Here are some behind-the-scenes images that I was able to capture during our photo shoot session at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay:

And - drumroll, please¬† - the stunning images that Adam captured of Sadie. Each photo perfectly portrays her personality, from sweet and unassuming to "I do what I want."

I am so in love with these images of Sadie, and we cannot wait to get mini square canvas prints to decorate our walls with! 

While he typically only shoots photos of pets, Adam is offering a special in-home photo shoot for both your pet and you, October-only. You can view more details and book here

The man behind the AGoldPhoto lens, Adam Goldberg.

*Disclosure: The service featured in this post was provided by AGoldPhoto Pet Photography for editorial consideration. This post was written on my own accord, and opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Adam Goldberg or AGoldPhoto Pet Photography.

Local Bites: New Chef (And Menu!) at Marlow's Tavern

by Jennifer Thai in ,

There's a new chef at Marlow's Tavern in Carrollwood and he's putting his own creative culinary spin to the menu. At a blogger event hosted by Marlow's Tavern a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Chef Matthew Beilstein and taste some of the new items on his menu, along with some of Marlow's traditional favorites. Keep scrolling for all of the delicious eats!

*Special thanks to Caitlyn from Live. Sweat. Sleep. for being my knight in shining armor and lending me a lens to capture these images with!

Pom Collins: Tito's Vodka, Pama Liquor, House Made Sour Mix, Simple

J.T.'s Kettle Chips: Crispy Potato Chips crowned with Gorgonzola Cheese, Bacon, Roma Tomato and Scallions

Marlow's Famous Hummus: Grilled, Toasty Pita Points, Crisp, Fresh Veggies, Pickled Okra, Olive Oil, Spiced Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds

Handcrafted Flatbread: Chicken Pesto

Caesar Chop Salad: Crisp Romaine, Shredded Baker Farm Kale, Radicchio, Chopped Egg, Parmesan, Caesar Dressing and Ciabatta Parmesan Croutons

Banh Mi Chicken Wrap: Soy Glazed Chicken, Roasted & Pulled or Fried, Napa Cabbage, Pickled Veggies, Fresh Cilantro, Firecracker Sauce in Grilled Tortilla

Grilled Chicken Stack: Herb Marinated Chicken, Roast Fingerling Potato, Rosemary, Thyme, Blistered Grape Tomatoes, Artichoke, Baby Arugula, Green Beans, Lemonette and Parslied Olive Oil

The Verdict: I can't get over how fresh the hummus and its accompanying array of vegetables were, and continue to be - Marlow's Famous Hummus and J.T.'s Kettle Chips are still my favorite, go-to appetizers. This visit was my first time trying the Caesar Chop Salad, and I'm always pretty wary when ordering a Caesar salad, because some spots have definitely gotten it all wrong, from the greens used to the dressing prepared. This isn't the case with Marlow's Tavern - I ate every last bite of that chopped salad!

The Banh Mi Chicken Wrap really blew me away - the flavor encompasses the familiar taste of the traditional Vietnamese sandwich. And although I know that pH will miss the formerly keto-friendly Grilled Chicken Stack, which featured a squash carbonara and sauteed spinach, the new version is something that truly satisfies my palate and my tummy.

Marlow's Tavern is still a spot that I consider a hidden gem in the Tampa Bay area - the food is phenomenal and authentically chef-inspired, and the plus is that it's pet-friendly, with a yappy hour menu offered daily.

Marlow's Tavern is located at 13134 N. Dale Mabry Hwy in Carrollwood. The restaurant is open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. You can view the menu here.