Zoominations

Friday night, we got lit up- but not in the way you’re assuming (everyone calm down). Despite it being a Friday night in Tampa, we decided to keep things low key and  head over to Lowry Park Zoo for their new event, Zoominations.  With the boys off being fabulous at their Gala, I was lucky enough to be joined by our friend Milynn of Love and Whimsy. 

I have never been to the zoo and Milynn hadn’t been in years so we were excited to check things out. We walked in under a giant red gate and definitely knew we were in the right place. We continued under a lighted pathway and were suddenly in a different world. The giant plated towers were immaculate and we couldn’t wait to see more.

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For the next hour we weaved in and out of different lands and saw pandas, zebras, fish and even dinosaurs completely lit. It’s no surprise that we had to find out how these creatures were created so we snuck a little feel (we noticed we weren’t the only ones) We learned each piece is put together by numerous Chinese craftsman by melding together frames. The fabric almost feels like pantyhose stretched across the frame. The LED lights made the colored fabric pop and they were certainly eye catching.

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The entire experience is spread throughout the zoo so everywhere you turn there is something to look at. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any real animals but the illuminated animals were equally as cool. If you’re a parent looking to make a day of it, we definitely suggest doing the zoo during the day and staying to see the magic after dark.

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Making Fitness our Mantra

As you know, we are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest workout trends. From running clubs, to yoga, to dance classes and Pilates- there is no shortage of studios and gyms around town to keep us on our toes. When a friend asked us to come check out Mantra Fitness, which features the Lagree fitness method, we had no idea what we were in store for.

Unfortunately the boys weren’t able to make it, so I brought a friend along to check things out. Located on South Dale Mabry, this mix of Pilates and cardio, features an adaptation to the reformer, called the Megaformer. When we arrived, 13 Megaformers were lined up in front of a mirrored wall. We were given our choice of grip socks (I obviously went for the leopard print) and Jeannie our instructor let us know we were ready to start.

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We started off with a series of planks and lunges and within 5 minutes I was definitely feeling the burn. The nice thing about the workout is it is low impact so it doesn’t cause any stress to the joints making it an ideal workout for any age. They told us they have clients from 14 to 80 years old. Kudos to them because this workout is no joke. Another awesome aspect of the workout is that you have the option of making it as easy or challenging as you want.

mantra2With the music pumping, you don’t even realize you’re getting a total workout in just 45 minutes. But believe me, I’m realizing it today. The studio opens officially on Monday, February 16th and you can check out their website now to book individual classes, packages or memberships. Don’t live in the South Tampa area? You’re in luck because they also have a studio located in Sarasota too! We want to thank owners Kathy and Jeannie for having us out to try out this one of a kind workout. I can’t wait to get back in there. (and next time I’m bringing Nick and Ryan with me!)

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Ride The River

So this past weekend, Allison, Ryan and I were on the hunt to find something unique to do. We have been super busy the past month or so between the holidays, traveling and planning Tampa Bay’s first ever Startup Week (more to come). This January weather in Tampa is some of the best of the year, so we knew when planning we wanted to be outdoors and our goal was to find something active. As we threw around ideas, we stumbled upon Tampa Bay Water Bike Company, a local startup company run by husband and wife team, Dan and Amanda.

Opening at the beginning of this year, TBWBC offers guests the opportunity to experience Tampa from a whole new perspective, a bike seat floating in the Hillsborough River. After checking out their website and Facebook page, we saw how inexpensive this unique experience was and noticed that they also offer lots of discounts for military, students and TEACHERS! We contacted the owners and set up a 2pm appointment on Saturday.

We woke up Saturday morning to a chilly start, but don’t you worry, you won’t get wet on the water bikes, so you are safe to wear pretty much whatever you feel most comfortable. We decided to head over to Tampa Heights to check out some cool stuff happening their at The Better Block Project. But we didn’t just Uber or drive ourselves. In true NHIE fashion, we rented some Coast Bikes outside of Irish 31 and rode our way around town.

After some morning fun checking out Tampa Heights, we made our way to the Convention Center to meet Amanda and Dan down by the docks. In order to get the full one hour slot you sign up for, they suggest arriving 15 minutes before hand to sign paperwork and go over the safety guidelines. So around 1:45pm, we met on the dock right outside of The Sail to get our ride started.

 

Paperwork signed- Check

Safety guidelines- Check

Life vests- Check

 

The whole process of getting on the bikes took no time and before we knew it, they were untying our ropes and sending us on our way. As we were told during the guidelines, there were multiple routes that we could take exploring complete with a time of about how long it would take (to be sure we made it back in time). By this point in the day the weather had warmed up to about 65 degrees, so it was PERFECT for a day of biking both on and off land.

We spent our hour touring the river starting with a trip down to Curtis Hixon. The view from these bikes is like NOTHING we have ever experienced. We loved how cool our pictures turned out too! Oh don’t worry, there is a spot on the bikes for a water bottle, purse, phone, that you can get to easily as you enjoy your ride. So we rode down passed our old stomping grounds in Plant Park and threw a u-turn to head up towards Bayshore. We then rode up Bayshore Blvd. underneath the Davis Islands bridge and down a bit before turning around and making our way back towards our starting point. The ride was smooth and relatively easy to navigate. One part that took some getting used to was turning. We all had our moments of difficulty and it was fun to watch each other struggle a little.

 

On our way back to the dock, Ryan and I knew we had to share what we were doing with our friends, so we made sure to Facetime our frozen friends up north to add some salt to their wounds and show them where we were. Whoops! All in all, it was a really cool day of exploring another piece of our city’s puzzle that we love so much. We highly suggest you get over to Tampa Bay Water Bike Company as soon as you can to test out this unique experience! And as always, let them know NHIE sent you!

 

Ride on!

-Nicholas

Grab your Gaspy Garrrghb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….. That’s the song that was playing last month around our house and will continue to play on through January. Why, you ask?  Obviously it’s because January means only one thing to the TRUE locals here in the Bay Area, GASPARILLA!

The countdown has begun and since Ryan and I were absent from Gasparilla last year due to a close friend’s New York wedding, we are back in full force and ready to take on the drunken pirates stumbling up and down Bayshore Blvd. We have our out-of-towners booked in their “guest quarters” and have begun “bootifying” the house so to speak to be ready for the big day. Beads, pirates, skulls, treasure, and parrots are definitely a must when you think of the staple Gasparilla decorations. But where can you find these hidden gems around the Bay? Look no further! Just like last year, I have compiled a list of some great local spots that offer true pirates at heart a chance to dabble in all the Gaspy fun!

Disclaimer: In honor of Gasparilla, I totally pirated some of these pics from Instagram and Facebook! ENJOY!

Salt Pines: Located in Hyde Park Village, Salt Pines has tons of unique gifts and fashion merchandise. We love the skull and crossbones design fitted with a sweet bowtie tee! And for the ladies, Bourbon and Boweties has also designed an EXCLUSIVE Gasparilla bangles at Salt Pines. So AWESOME!

Why Not Boutique?: This boutique, located on W. Bay to Bay, has TONS of girly garrrghb for all the pirate gals out there. Check out their Facebook page for updated pics of their coolest pieces.

Gasparilla Pirate Poster.com by Nick Gulick: This online site, also a shop on Etsy, offers an annual Gasparilla poster. If you are looking to ad some original art to your home this year or if you are trying to find that unique gift to bring to a pirate party, then you should DEFINITELY snag a limited edition poster from Nick’s site. Since 2012, Nick Gulick has been designing and producing these really cool Gasparilla inspired pirate posters. This year’s design is being finalized and is available for pre-order now on the website. If you aren’t looking to spend a few bucks for an original Gasparilla poster, no worries here. Nick has even added FREE IPhone Wallpaper to his site. Just add it to your cart and it will download, FREE OF CHARGE. You will be stumbling around in style come January 31st! Also, check out the awesome video below of how last year’s pirate poster was created!

Etsy Nick Gulick Gasparilla 2015 NHIE Tampa Bay

The Making of a Gasparilla Pirate Poster from Creative Motion Inc. on Vimeo.

Blind Tiger Cafe (Black & Denim) Located in Ybor, Blind Tiger Cafe boasts not only the Black and Denim clothing line, but also Cowork Ybor and a coffee shop featuring Buddy Brew Coffee and baked goods from Piquant. While stopping in last week, we came across a few Tampa Bay original tees and lightweight scarves for guys and girls just in time for Gasparilla. Spoiler alert: I will be wearing my black v-neck tee this year thanks to the guys at Black and Denim. Additional designs will be released closer to the big day too!

Pinky’s: A breakfast favorite here at NHIE, Pinky’s also has a small “annex” next store to the restaurant. On my stop in, I found a few quirky items to help take your Gasparilla gear to the next level!

Squaresville Tampa: If you have lived in South Tampa as long as we have, you know this place really well. Formerly located on S. Howard Ave, Squaresville offers retro decor and clothing options. Each year, they are an easy stop to find pirate coozies and Gaspy tees for both guys an girls. Beware though, they typically wait until closer to Gasparilla to put out all of their tees.

The Gifted Fig: This small shop located on W. Bay to Bay was one I happened to stumble upon this year. A new stop on my route around town, The Gifted Fig has items for people both big and small. From baby gear to pirate rings, they had tons of unique items at really reasonable prices.

Creme De La Creme: Located right next door to The Gifted Fig, you can kill two birds with one stone by stopping here. This shop offers wreaths, jewelry, clothing, pirate swords and much more. Not to mention, they had tons of other fun items to snag along the way.

Oh Whatever/ Forty Three Oh 3/ Summer House Marketplace: Located on S. Manhattan and an antique favorite of ours (See our other adventures here), we stopped in to surprisingly find TONS of cool Gasparilla gear. The coolest part… most of it was vintage and reasonably priced! Our favorites were the sweet skull glasses, the VINTAGE Gasparilla charm bracelet and the ceramic pirate cookie jar (I snagged the cookie jar on my way out). Updated daily, these spots are all right next to each other and share the same parking lot. If you are looking for really cool gifts for those party planners, look no further!

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Ki Custom Designs: Another NHIE staple, we LOVE the original, handmade items Kimy creates. If you are stuck on what to get or don’t have the time to go on an adventure to find something fun, check out the website and order online!

Crave Spa: And since the ladies aren’t breaking the bank with these awesome steals around town, they might as well stop in at Crave to take advantage of the January Special: The Gasparilla Pedi!

Crave Spa NHIE Tampa Bay

I don’t know about you, but it’s DEFINITELY a pirate’s life for me!

Cheers Mates!

-Nicholas

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

A few weeks back, we participated in an Ybor City ghost tour. We know what you’re thinking- December seems like a weird time to go ghost hunting in Ybor right? Well, when we looked into it during October, tours were all booked up (checking into it on September 29th probably wasn’t the best idea). None the less, we decided we could always search for the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future; but mostly just past.

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After talking to a friend about a ghost tour she had done in downtown Tampa, I was super amped on finding one to do in Ybor given all the amazing history of the area. I reached out to Lonnie of The Official Ybor City Ghost Tour and he let me know tours were open for December, so we promptly scheduled our tour for mid December. Nicholas, Ryan, two friends and I headed over to King Corona where we met Greg, our amazing tour guide! After the boys grabbed some Cuban coffee, we were ready to get started. We began with a stroll down 7th Ave to Centro Ybor where we stopped to learn all about Roland Manteiga. Next, we headed to the old Trelles Clinic (now the Ybor Resort and Spa) on 8th Ave. where we spent some time talking about Jorge Trelles and the Goddess/Whore of Ybor, Conchita (what a hot mess that situation was).

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Finally, we headed to The Don Vincente Inn where we got to really get into it and use “The Ghost Meter”. Some of us had been to the basement before, but that was before I knew about all the stuff that had gone down in there. Don’t get me wrong, the Don Vincente is a gorgeous inn but dang, that was some scary stuff. Here we didn’t have much activity on the meter but it was all about to change when we headed to the Cuban Club.

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As you may know, we’ve frequented the Cuban Club on occasion for The Rum Fest and Guavaween. Luckily we were drinking and clearly not thinking about how haunted the place was. Yet, when we went into the pitch black, totally silent club the other night, my stomach immediately went into knots and I was totally rethinking my great idea to do a ghost tour. Eventually I got over my fears and we were off with our meters once again. Here, there was tons of activity and I could see why given all the stories that came out of that place.

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After about 3 hours, we decided to say adios to the tour. I have to say, despite me being a total wuss when we got to the Cuban Club, I am so glad we did it. Just learning about the history of Ybor was enough to have piqued my interest, the ghost hunting was an added bonus. The tour is great to do any time of year, but if you do decide to go during October, make sure to book early. This year they did two tours on Halloween, each with about 45 people! Be sure to tell them Never Have I Ever Tampa Bay sent you!

 

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