Posted by: Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle | August 17, 2011

My Weekend of Birthday Surprises

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The last time someone surprised me for my birthday, I spent a good hour sulking. No lie. It was that moment I realized that surprises are not something that I… well, appreciate. Not normally.

However, when a certain special someone insisted that my weekend would be completely in his control and the only things I was allowed to know were that beach attire and boats were involved, I decided to just go with it and embrace the surprises. Not saying I didn’t try to wrangle a couple additional details out of him beforehand, but he’s pretty good about keeping secrets.

So last Friday I packed my big purple lululemon bag (which fits pretty much anything) with extra outfits for almost every kind of situation – fancy evening, beach bum, outdoorsy, casual every day, even party-girl – and tossed in flip flops and my black platforms (because those two go with ALL the outfits believe it or not) and drove up to Tampa, ready for anything.

The weekend began with a dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Tampa, Datz. If you haven’t been, you don’t know what you’re missing, but just take my word for it that you are seriously missing out. It was mobbed, even more so than the White Party we attended there a couple months ago…


We lounged at the bar with our favorite bartender Marissa (who is always working it seems) and stuffed ourselves with Mushroom Queso, Fish Tacos, 10 oz Burgers (Nick, not me) and a pile of Black Truffle fries the size of my head.

Needless to say, we may have overindulged. Nick’s amazing roommate Katie and her friend had whipped up a red velvet cake for my birthday by the time we got back though, and despite being about to burst, I just had to have a little piece. I think I passed out after that. It’s all a blur from the food comatose.

Saturday though found me still full, but able to eat some yummy blueberry pancakes that Nick whipped up before embarking on my maiden voyage to… IKEA! Two hours of touring through this massive village-in-a-warehouse had my head spinning and ironically I only bought a package of IKEA tupperwear. Still, my inner interior decorator is plotting my first furniture purchase there.

Next, the real surprises took place. An hour long drive took us to Clearwater Beach. This was part of the surprise since I had no idea where we were going. After checking in at our hotel (another surprise), we traveled to the marina area and boarded a dolphin excursion cruise boat called “The Tropics”…


Just kidding, we weren’t on the shark boat. Ours was a tropical cruise boat complete with faux palm trees on its roof deck (classy).


Added bonus, they had complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks. Of course, we opted for the $6 frozen drinks instead. How could we not though when our boat had palm trees on the roof?


We did see some bottle-nose dolphins though! (See the little grey dots…)


Once we cleaned up after the boat ride (it was 90 degrees out with like 95% humidity), we went back to Clearwater Beach for dinner and dined alfresco at Clearwater Wine Bar & Bistro. Live music, yummy wine, Mediterranean and Mexican food all in one place? Sounds perfect to me! Again though, I ate my weight in appetizers and almost needed to be rolled out of there.


Luckily our Sunday was much more low key and involved less food. We took advantage of our complimentary Continental Breakfast at our hotel (I love me some Continental breakfasts – the make your own waffle is bliss) and then headed to the beach!

Was it hot enough to fry an egg on your forehead? Yep. Was there so much grassy seaweed in the water, I felt like things were crawling on me? Sure. Did I have a fabulous time laying on my giant towel-blanket, doing nothing? You better believe it.

So overall, I give the guy some serious kudos for organizing one of my best birthday weekends in memorable history!


I even got sent home with a piece of that scrumptious red velvet cake complete with its dreamy cream cheese frosting… and it almost made it all the way back to Naples. Almost.

What was your favorite birthday weekend? Was it a surprise?


  1. This is amazing!! I’m so happy you had a wonderful birthday! I’d say this one is a keeper for sure 🙂 xoxo

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