Last Minute Local Gifts- Guide 3 | Tampa Bay

The holidays are here once again and this year is no different than the ones before. It is a scramble to the finish line and it’s time to cross those last names off my holiday gift list. Congrats to you if you are already done and wrapped, but I can’t say the same for myself. To help you out, I have rounded up some local gifts and retails shops that you should consider for quick, easy and unique gifts, plus you are supporting the local community by shopping small this season.

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1. If shopping for your man, definitely stop into London Phillips for some awesome finds. London Phillips has some of the best men’s fashion in the area. You can pick a signature piece from the new Gant Rugger collection or a staple weekender from Jack Spade to elevate his style. Don’t know what to pick? No worries, grab a gift card so he can come back and shop himself. Plus there is always the whiskey bar so he can browse with a fresh cocktail. Don’t forget to mention that!

2. Need a break from the crowded, busy parking lots of the sprawling malls? Then stop into the Blind Tiger Cafe in Ybor city and pick up an All-American gift from Black & Denim. Two birds with one stone; you are supporting a local cafe and brand. The Blind Tiger has fresh brewed coffee, tea and pastries. You can stay a while, catch up on some work, dive into a good book all while enjoying a fresh brew… that is before you check off another gift on your list. For a friend that loves the local flavor, pick up an exclusive Ybor Snapback Cap or a fresh new leather wallet.

3. A unique find from RareHues will make you the talk of the party. We cleaned up the first time we stepped into the store. You can find a small replica of the Empire State Building in our guest room and a reclaimed wood display with succulents on our dining buffet. This is the perfect location to pick up some art, jewelry, decor or accessories for someone you love. Prices range from low to high, so if there is someone you want to spend a little extra on this year, consider stopping here.

4. A pick me up from our favorite local coffee shop, Buddy Brew Coffee. Stop in here to stock up on some freshly roasted beans, a new mug for a bestie, or (my favorite) a #DoGoodBrewGood t-shirt. Buddy Brew went a step further and stocked some items just for the holiday season including some uniquely packaged peppermint bark.

5. Shop Juxtapose! For your convenience, you can stop in Hyde Park Village or at the new location at The Sundial in St Pete. It’s a small shop, but filled with tons of exclusive brands from apparel to beauty for all the women on your list. A candle is always a great hostess gift and Juxtapose even has one that smells like their store! So take a deep breath, because Juxtapose is here to save the day.

6. Want something hand made? KiDesigns has it- a holiday mug, a game day wreath or one of the many drinkware options. Kimy makes all the designs by hand and does a fantastic job. You can even email her for some custom work, but for the sake of timing you may want to stick to something on the site. What’s so great about these? You can throw the mugs and glasses in the dishwasher because Kimy bakes them. No extra work for a custom piece. Not to mention you will have a one of a kind gift that people will remember.

7. If all else fails… FOOD. Pick up a some fresh made sauce from Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pasteria downtown or some hot sauce from Datz’s spawn Roux. How about showing up to the party with some fresh baked cupcakes from Sweet Tooth Cakery or a gift card to my favorite Fruitwood Standup Market?

Happy Shopping! #ShopLocal

I Fit, You Fit, E-Fit

My workout schedule tends to be like the ocean; it comes in waves. I’ll be good for about a month or two and then decide that I’ve earned 4 months off. It’s not exactly the best idea but hey, those 2 months are intense. So when Audrey from 4 U Fitness invited us to come check out their new gym and Electro Fitness (E-Fit ) system over in St. Petersburg I figured with the holidays coming up, I should probably do some sort of athletic activity. This way, when I down my turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, wine, etc. on Thursday I’ll can feel a little bit better about myself.

Last Tuesday I headed to the gym over on 4th Street which is conveniently located right by my office. Going in I had no idea what to expect. Before my session I had watched a Youtube video Audrey had sent over about the E-Fit and thought, hmm this doesn’t look so bad. Boy was I wrong. I met owner Daniel at his space around 5pm. I say space because the gym isn’t much bigger than Fresh Kitchen. After some minor paperwork it was time to get started.

Each 4 U Fitness gym will have artwork dedicated to it's location. Can you spot all the places on 4th Street?

Each 4 U Fitness gym (Located on Kennedy in Tampa too!) will have artwork dedicated to it’s location. Can you spot all the places on 4th Street?

A few things that are awesome about E-Fit is that the workout is only 20 minutes, they provide everything for you, and you truly get in a great workout. They even have showers, changing rooms and a vanity for women available for those who like to get a workout done during lunch and head back to the office. I quickly changed up and then was fitted for my vest and shorts. Yes, that right, a vest and shorts, full of straps and pads and wires. By the time I was done I totally felt like a robot. This blog gets me into the oddest situations, I have to say.


Once I was all strapped in, I was ready to be hooked up to the machine. The machine had a series of dials that each corresponded to a certain muscle group. During the workout Daniel would turn up the dial to simulate weight against your muscle. Also, I have to add that all exercises were done with a 2lb weight. Here is some easy math for you:  2lb weight + 20 minute workout = death. After a series of curls, squats, calf raises, crunches, and more I was near passing out when Daniel so graciously pulled the plug- literally.

The Danger Zone

The Danger Zone

Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I will say- this was TOUGH. I am writing this almost a week later, and I swear I finally stopped feeling sore 2 days ago. (Granted my lack of previous exercise but that’s neither here nor there)  If you are thinking, “Yeah right Allison, you’re a wuss” I challenge you to try it yourself! Right now at their St. Petersburg location you can try it for a week for just $1. Yes, $1! Click here for more info! Make sure to tell them NHIE Tampa Bay sent you!


Good Luck!- Allison

Boozin’ and Bakin’

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (well almost) and the holidays mean 3 things: family, food and a few too many cocktails. And while I would much rather indulge in the later two than actually prepare the meals, I have my domestic moments from time to time. From a young age I’ve been the boxed brownie queen of the kitchen but as time goes on there are only so many ways to spice them up. However, “spiking” them up never occurred to me until I headed over to Chef Beth’s Cupcakes & Cocktails class at the Epicurean Theatre.

Chef Beth, of Cloud 9 Confections hosted her second class at the theatre on Tuesday night and I have to say, I’m bummed I missed the first one (especially the margarita cupcake) but I was lucky enough to catch this one. This class featured fall themed cupcakes that included Pumpkin Spice, Hard Apple Cider and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan. During the class, she demoed the Bourbon Chocolate Pecan cupcake while we had the pleasure of sipping on some cocktails crafted by one of my favorite Elevage bartenders, Roger.


The first was a Pumpkin Prosecco. With Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and Pumpkin Spiced beers popping up all over the place I would expect nothing less than to mix pumpkin with a little Prosecco. And while I can’t really categorize myself a “basic” since I don’t rush right out to Starbucks on the day the PSL is released, this cocktail had me rethinking my “basic” status. We sampled the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan batter and whewww could you taste the bourbon. We were about 45 minutes in and I was beginning to feel my buzz before the second cocktail was in my hand or the first cupcake was on my plate.

Next up, Chef Beth would be mixing up the Bourbon Chocolate Buttercream while we were handed the hard apple cocktail, my favorite cocktail of the night. A mix of gin, lemon juice, Concord juice and Crispin Hard Apple Cider, this may become my new go-to when visiting the Epicurean. A few minutes later, it was time for the hands on portion of the night. We headed to the front of the theatre and took our places at different work stations where we were able to fill, frost and top off the cupcakes to our liking, all while enjoying a bourbon cocktail.


At the end of the night we were lucky enough to go home with a strong buzz and 6 cupcakes in a take home container. The only thing I’m upset about is that I didn’t get to try the homemade bark that I’ve heard so much about (or the toffee, chocolate covered pretzels and cookies) If you’re interested in checking out her next class, it’s December 16th and you can get your tickets now here.





The Blind Tiger Sinks Its Claws Into Ybor City

Ybor is getting a new flavor and the bite that packs the biggest punch is The Blind Tiger Cafe, located at 1901 E. 7th Ave in the historic Ybor City district. Serving up delicious coffee brewed from Buddy Brew and teas made by TeBella Tea Company, this place knows how to keep customers craving more. Not only are they a cafe but, the Blind Tiger is also the home to local retailers, Black and Denim Apparel Company.

Black and Denim is a lifestyle brand created with 100% American raw materials and is inspired by Americana, Music and the American lifestyle. Specializing in clothes and accessories for both men and women and sold right here in Tampa Bay, Black and Denim promotes the “shop local” motto and invites customers to try their “made in America” apparel and leather goods.

This past week, we were invited to check out the space at 1901 E. 7th Ave for a media preview before the grand opening and found lots of cool design elements happening in the space. After a few seconds glancing around the room, we knew why we loved the decor so much… Schiller Salvage had put their touch on the space! Working to transform an old, beat up office space into a funky and sleek new cafe and textile shop was not an easy task, but The Blind Tiger Cafe has done just that.

And I almost forgot… the above is only HALF of the space at the location. In the adjoining space next store, CoWork Ybor has opened up shop. CoWork Ybor offers a space for creatives to utilize aside from their home or office to work. It provides killer WiFi and a funky space for people to come and work and gain support from like-minded individuals in the community.


All in all, this new addition to Ybor City has so much to offer there is no doubt you need to stop in and check it out! Veronica from the Cafe and Chris and Roberto from Black and Denim have created an experience that you have to go and see for yourselves. The grand opening is this Thursday, November 13th from 5-7pm, so head on down to Ybor City to check out this awesome new edition to Tampa Bay! And when you do, be sure to grab a coffee, some new threads and enjoy 1901 E. 7Th Ave!

- Nicholas
Blind Tiger Cafe on Urbanspoon

Zeal, For Real?

zeal 1


We all know that I am quick to find a need to go shopping for household items for no real reason, so when we heard our friends at Rarehues were having a party and ribbon cutting for the newly- added Zeal Coffee Roasters that is located inside their store, I found a way to “clear my schedule” to make it there on Friday night to check it out!

Zeal Coffee Roasters has its original location in Lutz, a bit of a hike for this South Tampanian, but none the less, we followed them closely on social media and a few months ago and Allison and I were lucky enough to check out their mobile, Cold Brew party Bus to snag a taste of the coffee they make!

zeal 2

From our past trips to Rarehues, I knew that they serve up some really unique housing gifts, furniture, jewelry and more (all with a modern, vintage twist). With the addition of Zeal Coffee Roasters opening within the market, they now serve up even more awesomeness to customers. When we walked up to the counter, we were immediately intrigued by the design of the coffee shop. It was very modern and sleek with varying tones of gray with pops of crisp white (our favorite)! I ordered myself a iced caramel latte, white I chugged down during one lap around the store. We are so happy for both our friends at Rarehues and Zeal Coffee Roasters for all of their continued success and look forward to many more shopping experiences while sipping on a coffee to keep me moving (Shh, just don’t tell Ryan).

Vintage Tampa Bay Carrollwood

Rarehues Modern Vintage Market



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