Local Bites: Carriage House Tampa

by Jennifer Thai in ,

A social haven is coming to downtown Tampa, and I cannot wait for the official launch! Last week, I was invited to a special preview of Carriage House, a new restaurant in partnership with Saltblock Catering Co. built off the concept of handhelds and baskets.

The idea is to pair great eats with entertainment offered at soon-to-open Franklin Manor, where Carriage House will be housed. A huge outdoor patio will also welcome furry friends with open arms.

The preview was such a great time, and the food was phenomenal. As usual, I'll let the images do most of the talking:

Frosé: Blended rosé, vodka and fruit purée  

Cuban Nachos: Mojo pork, queso, mixed pickles, cotija cheese & chili-scallion sauce

Queso, ceviche & black bean hummus

Meat & Cheese: Genoa salami, soppressata, Irish cheddar, queso, fried bread sticks & olive tapenade

The Double Burger: American cheese, bread & butter pickles, minced onion, Saltblock sauce

Wings: Sesame-soy, classic buffalo & bourbon BBQ

Grouper Taco: Chili-rubbed Gulf grouper, pickled onion, cilantro, chili-scallion sauce & Texas Pete aioli

Roast Pork Taco: Shredded cabbage, pickled onion, cotija cheese, jalapeno mayo

Strawberry Shortcake Soft Serve

S'mores Soft Serve

True to Saltblock Catering Co.'s philosophy, each dish was thoughtfully crafted and creatively delivered. I absolutely loved their take on a classic double cheeseburger - it was juicy, savory and all-around delicious. Each handheld/basket was full of flavor and paired various textures for a well-rounded meal that definitely satisfied my palate. I really enjoyed the deconstructed soft serve and waffle cones - I'll admit, it was fun to break off waffle cone pieces and dip them into the ice cream like chips and dip.

I'm really excited about the location - between Fly Bar and Restaurant and the Tampa Theatre, this portion of downtown Tampa is barren and calling for rejuvenation. The addition of Franklin Manor and Carriage House will help bridge the gap in this part of downtown and hopefully pave the way for additional establishments to cultivate the area.

In about 6-10 weeks, Franklin Manor and Carriage House will open its doors at 912 N. Franklin Street in downtown Tampa. For additional updates from Carriage House, follow along on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Surprise Date Night

by Jennifer Thai in , , ,

I adore surprises - both getting and giving them! pH would tell you otherwise, but I'm talking actual surprises, not those "it's a surprise," or "I have a surprise for you," shenanigans where you know it's coming, but you don't know what the heck it is and have to wait x amount of days to find out - I'm not a fan of those.

I know that not everyone is a romantic like myself, but every now and then, I think it's the sweetest thing to be surprised with such a gesture, and even more so to plan one for your significant other (s/o), to thank him/her for putting up with your weird, crazy self and to say, "I love you with all of my heart."

In celebration of This Jenn Girl's two-year anniversary, both myself and pH, with help from Delane Ashley Photography, have put together some inspiration for surprising your s/o with a well-planned out date night, whether you're a gentleman or a lady!

Choose the right dateProbably the most vital aspect for making this work is making sure that you're taking everyone's schedule into consideration. Double-check and make sure that your s/o doesn't already have plans for the day/evening you're planning the surprise date night.

Time for some detective work. If you plan on purchasing an outfit for your s/o, it's time to figure out sizes. If you live with him/her, see if you can find out his/her shirt size, pant size, dress size and/or shoe size. If you don't have access to his/her clothing, use subtle conversations and friends or family members to figure it out.

Time to shop. Whether it's at a local shop, like A. Haley Boutique, or straight from his/her closet, it's time to lay out the outfit. It helps to choose one item to help style the rest of the outfit around. In this case, pH chose to develop my ensemble around a pair of Forever 21 black, open-toed heels that I already had in my closet.

Romper: {a} haley boutique | Cuff: {a} haley boutique (in-store) | Necklace: {a} haley boutique (in-store) | Purse: c/o pursecase

Time to get ready. As the recipient of the surprise, the outfit that your s/o has laid out for you is a hint toward how you should primp. In this case, a blush-toned romper and delicate jewelry calls for a "romantic pretty"-esque look - pink blush, soft eyes and loose curls.

Curling Iron: Rehab Curling Iron c/o Cricket Company

Time to eat. And really eat. It might be date night, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for a knife-and-fork entree because you don't want to get wing sauce on your fingers and outfit. My biggest belief is that a date should allow you to be exactly who you are, and if you're craving a seafood boil complete with unpeeled shrimp, snow crab legs and crawfish on a date, go for it. Why not?!

In our case, we went to Flybar, one of our favorite spots in Tampa and one of our first date spots, too. We ordered the Poutine, Sofrito Green Beans, Broccoli & Cauliflower Sauté and Shrimp & Grits. I always enjoy everything that I order from Flybar, but if you have to order just one thing, you must get the Shrimp & Grits. It's my favorite shrimp & grits dish in the Tampa Bay area!

Time to wind down. Whether you decide to walk around town or snuggle up on the couch, don't let the end of your meal mean the end of your date. pH and I watched the sun set from Downtown Tampa, and it was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.

Special thanks to:

Delane Ashley Photography: Website | Facebook
Tim Halperin: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
{a} haley boutique: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Fly Bar & Restaurant: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Cricket Company: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
pursecase: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Mother's Day 2016 Gift Guide

by Jennifer Thai in ,

There's just a little over two weeks until Mother's Day, and I've got just the inspiration to help you figure out the perfect gift(s) for the mother figure in your life.

  • LOUISE & ELEANOR is a unique and chic handbag brand that is dedicated to positively impacting and empowering women worldwide. A percentage of each bag sold is donated to select women's non-profit organizations. // VENICE Clutch, $128
  • Mixbook offers a simple way to to create customizable photo books just in time for Mother's Day. Mosaic is an app that allows you create a stunning photo book comprised of your mom's favorite memories from your phone, making it the perfect personal and thoughtful gift. Mosaics are printed within 48 hours and arrive in 4 days - easy peasy! // $30
  • If your mother is an avid beach-goer, Dune Jewelry is the perfect Mother's Day gift for her! Dune Jewelry allows you to customize beautiful jewelry pieces with the sand from her favorite beach - there are over 2,000 beaches to choose from! // Beach Bangle - Anchor, $40
  • Treat your stylish mom to some additions to her wardrobe - Metaphor at Sears has a chic collection of affordable, staple pieces perfect for the trendy mom, the working mom and the boho chic mom. // Microsuede Miniskirt, $14.99 // Sleeveless Trench Dress, $28.80
  • With mom-life, anything can happen. But with TaZa's Unbreakable Wine Glasses, red wine disasters are a thing of the past. These shatterproof wine glasses look like glass, are party-friendly and travel-safe. // Set of 4, $22.95
  • Zeel delivers top-quality massages to your home, in as little as an hour. What better way to thank Mom for all that she's done than by giving her the gift of rest and relaxation? // Starting at $99

Local Bites: Hawkers Asian Street Fare in St. Pete

by Jennifer Thai in ,

St. Pete has just welcomed a new foodie gem to its EDGE business district, and I couldn't be more thrilled! Earlier this week, I was able to help Hawkers Asian Street Fare celebrate its St. Pete grand opening with my girlfriend, Jen, and I can't even begin to explain how amazing the experience was.

If you're headed their way this weekend, you are in for such a treat. Hawkers offers an awesome vibe, with an blend of Asian and industrial interior design. The menu is extensive, offering items from the grill, soups and salads, your typical Asian street fare small plates, and rice and noodles. A wide range of craft brews are also offered.

My beautiful date, Jen!

I'll let the images do the talking:

Roti Canai: Malaysian flat bread served with a side of spicy curry dipping sauce.

Green Papaya & Shrimp Salad: Poached shrimp, green papaya, carrots, basil, and cilantro tossed in spicy Vietnamese vinaigrette dressing. Topped with mango salsa, fried shallots, and roasted peanuts.

Malaysian Prawn Mee Soup: Egg noodles, jumbo shrimp, yow choy, bean sprouts, chicken breast, boiled eggs in a spicy prawn broth garnished with fried shallots.

Braised Pork Belly Baos

Grilled Bulgogi Beef Skewers served with kim chee.

Crispy Roast Pork Siu Yoke: Seasoned tender pork belly, roasted to a crisp and served with a hoisin dipping sauce.

Cinnamon Roti

Lychee Colada, Salted Caramel and Matcha Green Tea & Chocolate Chip Mochi Ice Cream

My must-order picks:

  • Roti Canai: This is the most popular of traditional Asian street fare, and it is oh-so-delicious. The flatbread is flaky and the perfect crispy texture, and the curry dipping sauce is extremely savory, with the perfect amount of spice.
  • Green Papaya & Shrimp Salad: I wasn't expecting this to be as good as it was - honestly, when it comes to Asian food, my expectations are pretty high, since my mom has always spoiled me with delicious homemade cooking. We eat papaya salad often, and some places just don't get the Vietnamese dressing right. But let me tell you, Hawkers gets it right.
  • Malaysian Prawn Mee Soup: If you love seafood flavors as much as I do, this is right up your alley. I loved this dish - it reminded me so much of a soup my mom makes from time to time. The soup has so much flavor, and everything from the noodles to the yow choy was cooked perfectly.
  • Grilled Bulgogi Beef Skewers: Oh my goodness, these were absolutely amazing. Perfectly charred, the skewers are so flavorful and paired amazingly with the kim chee. Even if you aren't a fan of kim chee, you must give Hawkers' a try - it's not sour at all, and has a fresh, perfectly spicy flavor and crunchy texture.
  • Green Tea & Chocolate Chip Mochi: Okay - so, I think my mochi ended up melting under a heat lamp or something. At first, I thought that was the way it was supposed to look, but after comparing it to images off of Yelp, I'm thinking it just melted haha. But still, the Matcha Green Tea & Chocolate Chip Mochi was the most delicious out of the flavors I chose.

And, if you've got some time during the work week, Hawkers features Hoppy Hour from 3-6 p.m., with select small plates and draft beers for $3 - it can't possibly get any better than that!

Hawkers Asian Street Fare is located at 1235 Central Avenue in St. Pete. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. You can view the menu here.

I had come to Hawkers with the intention to pay for my meal and feature it on the blog, but the manager surprised us by taking care of our meal. As always, opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Hawkers Asian Street Fare.

Scrumptious Skin with FarmHouse Fresh

by Jennifer Thai in

One of my favorite skin care brands is FarmHouse Fresh - I live by its Sundae Best Chocolate Softening Mask and really love how the facial products aren't harsh on my skin, especially since my skin tends to dry very easily. I'm pretty sure the most enjoyable thing about them is how amazing they smell. I really do have urges sometimes to see if they taste anything like they smell - I haven't yet, and you shouldn't, either. Like, ever.

I was able to test out two of its brand new face masks, Pudding Apeel, a yummy rice and fruit glycolic mask, and Guac Star, a soothing hydration mask made with creamy avocado. Pudding Apeel is a gentle resurfacing mask that allows you to exfoliate your skin without having to go through the abrasion process. It smells heavenly, just like vanilla tapioca pudding. Honey, coconut milk, green tea and honeysuckle extract are combined to help soothe your skin as you exfoliate. Unlike most glycolic treatments, this one is very gentle, while doing the job well. It leaves my skin feeling super soft to the touch, and I feel comfortable using this mask every other day.

This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 1
This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 2
This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 3
This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 4
This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 5

Guac Star has a cooling, hydrating blend of avocado butter and powerful antioxidants like goji berry, pomegranate and coffee seed. I put the jar in my refrigerator for an even more cooling sensation when I use it - I absolutely love it! It's so gentle on my skin, and I use it every single day. I can definitely notice a change in the complexion of my skin in the mornings when I start my makeup routine - what once was dry skin is now nourished and hydrated, and my complexion looks more even and smooth.

This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 6
This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 7
This Jenn Girl - FarmHouse Fresh 8
My Zoolander look ;)

My Zoolander look ;)

Both of these products are fantastic, and well worth the $22 per jar. FarmHouse Fresh is a brand that I trust and have had great experience with, and I really love how my favorite Rock Spa over at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa trust and use FarmHouse Fresh products, too. 

*Disclosure: The product featured in this post was provided by FarmHouse Fresh Goods for feature/review. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of FarmHouse Fresh Goods.

The Brush Guard Cleaning Kit + GIVEAWAY

by Jennifer Thai in

As a follow-up to my review of The Brush Guard, I finally had the chance to test out The Brush Guard Cleaning Kit - keep on reading for my full thoughts on the Cleaning Kit, and for a chance to win a deluxe package from The Brush Guard!

The Brush Guard Cleaning Kit comes with all of the essentials you need to clean and take care of your make-up brushes, including two foundation, two cheek & blush and two shadow & liner Brush Guards. I've highlighted the steps to a squeaky clean brush below - I am so amazed by how easy the process is and how clean my brushes turned out! The Brush Guard Cleaning Kit makes cleaning your make-up brushes so simple, something I wasn't doing on a regular basis before because I found it so difficult, messy and time-consuming.

Step 1: Wet make-up brushes completely

Step 2: Squeeze a couple of drops of Squeaky Clean Brush Shampoo into Washing Cup

Step 3: Rub bristles gently against sudsing surface to work up a full lather

Step 4: Rinse brush thoroughly, until lather is gone

Step 5: Blot brush thoroughly with the blotting cloth

Step 6: Slide on The Brush Guard, and place brush, bristles down, in the Drying Vase

I've partnered with The Brush Guard to give you the opportunity to win a deluxe The Brush Guard package, including:

  • The Brush Guard Cleaning Kit
  • The Brush Guard Variety Pack
  • The Brush Guard Foundation Pack
  • The Brush Guard Powder & Kabuki Pack
  • The Brush Guard Cheek & Blush Pack
  • The Brush Guard Shadow & Liner Pack

Earn entries using the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is available to U.S. residents only, and you must be at least 18 years of age or older. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on March 18th.

*Disclosure: This post and giveaway is sponsored by The Brush Guard. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of The Brush Guard.