Double Dose of Art

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As a kid, my mom would have to drag me to museums and bribe me with ice cream just so I would sit still. Fast forward a few years and now I am completely infatuated with museums. There’s something so calming about the beautiful portraits hanging from the walls and the stillness of the room. I spent so many Saturday afternoons at The Met when I lived in NYC. I found it to be the perfect escape from bustling city life.

I finally stopped by the Chihuly Collection in downtown St. Pete and was completely blown away by the exquisite blown glass pieces. If you’ve ever been to the Bellagio in Vegas, you’ve seen Chihuly’s colorful glass ceilings inside the lobby of the hotel. The St. Pete exhibit houses the same floral ceiling as well as many other truly stunning pieces.

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Image^^The floral ceilings at the St. Pete collection; identical to the Bellagio hotel exhibit.

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Image^^My favorite part of the exhibit…the ‘blue room.’

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I also stopped by the Warhol “Art. Fame. Mortality” exhibit at The Dali. The traditional Campbell’s Soup prints were on display and black & white Warhol movies were projected onto the white walls. We also got a chance to do a 3-minute screen test captured by a 1960’s camera.

Image^^View from the top of the Dali Museum, overlooking the marina.

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Image^^My favorite downtown spot.

Image^^Even the staircase inside The Dali is a piece of art.

Image^^My Warhol screen test. Sitting still for 3 minutes is next to impossible.

Image^^My favorite shots from the screen test.

Image^^Greetings from Sunny Florida!

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New York Girl

I’m not really sure how Christmas has already come and gone…the holidays always seem to disappear in the blink of an eye. Back in November I made a weekend trip up to my old stomping grounds to visit friends, eat at some of New York’s finest establishments, and of course…take in the autumn leaves! It’s nice to look back at the golden colors since the leaves are now long gone and snow is the only thing New Yorkers will be staring at for the next few months.

^^Pink gem-faced mannequins inside Topshop.

^^NYC always looks better in lights.

^^Having a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” moment on the stoop from the 1961 movie.

^^The best tacos in the city at Tacombi in Nolita. Carne Asada tacos, fresh watermelon juice, and grilled corn in a cup.

^^Central Park was covered in golden LEAVES!

^^So many popsicles to choose from at Popbar.

^^The colors inside the park were just breathtaking.

^^Massive fortune cookie dessert at TAO.

^^Lady Gaga’s bone dress at her ARTPOP pop-up installation in the Meatpacking District.

^^DVF has always been one of my favorite buildings, just love those hot pink lips!

^^The famous Jeff Koons ‘Balloon Dog‘ worth $58.4 million! Should have stuck it in my purse…hah!

Hit the Lights

^^Bubble lights inside the Dream Downtown in NYC.

^^Trendy light installations at the Tampa Museum of Art.

I can never resist pulling out my camera whenever I run into unique lighting. It’s one of those little things that really change the whole atmosphere of a place. There’s nothing like a beautiful chandelier to really romanticize even the simplest of rooms. These are some of my favorite pieces I’ve stumbled upon.

^^Spooky antler lighting at the Mandarin Hide in downtown St. Petersburg.

^^Old wine bottles light up the booths at Sea Dog Brewing.

^^The romantic lighting that lit up the barn at my brother’s proposal spot.

^^The crystal chandelier and art deco ceiling were straight out of The Great Gatsby at downtown Tampa’s Floridan Palace.

^^Spanish-inspired lighting at Ceviche.

^^The most spectacular chandeliers at Buddakan. This room was made famous in the Sex & the City Movie where Carrie + Big had their rehearsal dinner.

Roman Holiday

I stumbled upon a hidden gem. I had heard about the Ringling Museum of Art but never took the time to visit until just recently. I had assumed it was a typical art museum, nothing more. Well I was pleasantly surprised upon my arrival. It felt as if I had stamped my passport and escaped to the Italian countryside for an afternoon. The magnificent chandeliers inside the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion took my breath away. After lingering out on the mansion’s veranda, I had completely fallen in love with the colorful chevron tiles and the beautiful view of the ocean. Plus, the museum’s courtyard was surrounded by pink walls, bronzed Italian statues, and an overflowing marble fountain. I forgot for a moment that I was still in Florida.

^^My future home WILL have these tiles.

^^There was something so whimsical about these draping vines.

^^Even the ceilings were magical.

^^Who doesn’t love pink?

Sidewalk Chalk

Over the last few years, I’ve really learned to appreciate art and all of the hard work that goes in to producing a beautiful piece. I spent a Sunday afternoon strolling through the local Chalk Art Festival. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was absolutely blown away when I saw the streets adorned with vibrant works of art.

I’m excited to announce the winners of the Luxxe Bands Giveaway!

Greta Cameron {Ultra}

Shelby Chari {Elle Woods}

Louise {Breakfast at Tiffany’s}

I will be reaching out to you lovely ladies shortly. Thank you to all who entered!

Make sure to “like” Life is a Red Carpet on Facebook.

Shine Bright

During the month of December, I seemed to be constantly entertaining, stopping by unlimited amounts of Christmas parties, wrapping gifts, and overeating my mom’s famous cookies. I decided to make a weekend trip to Orlando to visit some college friends and reunite with my old town. It’s hard to believe that this was my first trip back to Orlando since graduating two and a half years ago.

I started off the weekend with tapas at one of my favorite places, Cafe Tu Tu Tango. The walls inside the restaurant were adorned with art by local artists and the passion fruit sangria was to die for. I spent the next afternoon perusing the Orlando Museum of Art, picking out a Union Jack teapot at The British Shoppe, and doing a little shopping at The Mall at Millenia. I was so excited to see one of my favorite bands, Marina and the Diamonds, that night in downtown Orlando. Before I headed home, I went for a walk through the farmer’s market and had brunch at Spice on Lake Eola. It sure was nice to be back!

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Our family friends had extra Disney tickets that were going to expire at the end of the year so my mom and I decided to spend one of the last days of 2012 at Magic Kingdom! I hadn’t been to the park in four years so I was excited to be back at Disney. It ended up being quite cold, although I refused to wear a hat or gloves since I was in Florida.

We rode Space Mountain, visited the Haunted Mansion, ate Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, watched the Electrical Parade, and even got a glimpse of the fireworks on the way out of the park. The castle was completely covered in twinkling lights and it was a truly magical way to end the night!

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Home is Where the Heart is

December has been filled with Christmas parties, unpacking the decorations, and unexpected cool weather. In between all of the holiday festivities, I’ve been trying to get out and explore some new places around my town.

Since living in NYC, I have become a huge fan of art museums. The University of South Florida in Tampa houses the Contemporary Art Museum. When I heard they had an Andy Warhol exhibit on display, I knew I had to make a trip to the museum. Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Can as well as a hundred of his famous Polaroids were hanging amongst the museum’s white walls.

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Ever since I heard about the opening of Oxford Exchange on West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa, I knew I had to try it. My decision was solidified when I heard Food Network chef and “Chopped” judge, Geoffrey Zakarian, had raved about the food after stopping by.

Oxford Exchange completely went above and beyond what I had expected. The restaurant is based on 19th century London and the architecture is absolutely breathtaking. The restaurant’s grand entrance is through a dark, almost romantic, bookstore. Everything from Vogue memoirs to cookbooks to historical classics are on display. While having lunch, we were mesmerized by the glass ceiling, black and white checkered flooring, and marble fountain in the center of the dining room. After an amazing meal and some afternoon tea, I’ve decided to make Oxford Exchange a regular in my routine.

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On a gloomy afternoon this week, my friend and I decided to go out and explore Downtown Dunedin. On a typical night, I’m down there to grab dinner or drinks so I figured this could be a nice way to pop into the local spots and really get a glimpse of this cute little town.

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City of Blinding Lights {Part 3}

I officially have 10 days left in New York City. Every day that I’ve spent in this city, I think about the things I would miss if I left. On the other end of the spectrum, there are things I would not miss at all.

Five Things I’ll Miss About NYC

1. Autumn – There is something so magical about this time of year. The brisk weather, the orange and yellow leaves adorning Central Park, and the feeling that winter is on it’s way. If I had to pick one season to spend my entire life in, autumn would win in a heartbeat.

2. Brunch – I know what you’re thinking, you can have brunch anywhere, not just in NYC. But brunch is a typical weekend activity in the city. Sitting around a table with a bunch of friends sipping mimosas has quickly become one of my favorite activities.

3. Casual Celebrity Run-ins – I have been very lucky to see my fair share of celebrities while living in the city. Some of my most exciting run-ins have been with Ed Westwick, Joe Jonas, and Rachel Zoe. The pictures below were other casual encounters with Matthew Settle (“Rufus” from Gossip Girl) and Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone at the “Crazy, Stupid, Love” movie premiere.

4. Skyscrapers & Rooftops – There is something so magical about the view of Manhattan from a rooftop. The never ending “concrete jungle” is such a sight to see. The view from the plane ride flying into Manhattan is also one of the coolest spectacles.

5. Art & Fashion – New York is such a great place to soak up the art and fashion cultures. Every designer has their exhibitions and shows open in the city. Fashion Week has been down the street from me for two years. The elaborate window displays on Fifth Avenue are unlike any other.

Five Things I Won’t Miss About NYC

1. Small Apartment – As much as I love my little apartment, I can’t wait to have more space. Having to switch out my summer and winter wardrobes because they won’t all fit in my closet is something I don’t really love. I enjoy cooking but with a counter top that is only about a foot wide, it makes it nearly impossible. I will also not miss my window air conditioning units. They keep me cool most days but I really love central AC.

2. Winter – I hate winter. The only thing I like is that my hair doesn’t get frizzy and I get to wear cute scarves but besides that, nothing good comes between the months of December to April. I could live without the random blizzards, icy sidewalks and constantly wet feet.

3. Public Transportation – As efficient as the subway is, I really will be okay without it. The extreme heat in the middle of the summer, the homeless people constantly bothering you, and the less than delightful smells are all things I won’t miss. I can also do without riding in NY cabs and dealing with the (mostly) rude drivers. If I’m going to cut someone off or speed down the highway, I’d rather do it in the safety of my personal vehicle.

4. Rodents – Back in Florida, I’m used to seeing squirrels and lizards. In NYC, mice are the equivalent of these creatures. It’s sad that when mice cross my path here, I don’t even flinch or think twice. Also, a few months back, I was sitting in a Times Square movie theater enjoying a flick when I heard little chirping sounds next to me. I look over and realize there is a rat sitting on my armrest. I jumped up as fast as possible and ran to customer service, demanding a refund after being traumatized. No one even apologized because they said “this happens all the time.” I really dislike these disgusting little creatures.

5. Higher Cost of Living – It’s hard to write my rent check each month. My rent is double from what I paid in college and I have half the space. A trip to the grocery store includes a $6 box of cereal or a $15 pack of toilet paper. I will no longer have to fill my suitcase with Walmart toiletries when visiting New Jersey.

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous

Since it’s finally started feeling like spring I’ve been spending more time outside and exploring. On a Sunday afternoon I decided to stroll over to the Upper East Side and check out the Whitney Museum of American Art. Although I’ve never been well educated when it comes to art, I do enjoy taking time to appreciate the beautiful pieces that people work so hard to create.

Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite festive “holidays” to spend with friends. The holiday always occurs when the weather is just beginning to really warm up. On the day before Cinco, some friends hosted a “Cuatro de Mayo” party at their apartment. I was pretty excited about the margarita cake I made. We spent most of the night on the rooftop enjoying the cool weather. On Cinco de Mayo a group of my friends got together at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Queens where we spent time playing cards and enjoying another sunny day.

This past weekend Christen invited me out to her family’s house in The Hamptons! The house we stayed in was absolutely beautiful. It was even featured in a New York interior design magazine. Each room of the house was decorated with various colors and designs. The back porch and rectangular-shaped pool was easily my favorite part of the house.

On Saturday afternoon we went to East Hampton and had lunch at quaint little place called Cittanuova. The luxury retail of this area was unbelievable. Of course we had to do a little shopping before lunch. Our next stop was the picturesque Wolffer Estate Vineyard where we spent the afternoon underneath a cloudless sky tasting various wines and cheeses. It was definitely a step away from my usual afternoon in the city!

That night Christen and I had dinner at a trendy Southampton hotspot Redbar. We both had a Filet Mignon and split a chocolate mousse for dessert. After a long day, we decided to spend the evening in the pool. I never have the chance to go swimming in the city so I took full advantage of having a heated pool in the backyard.

On Sunday we had Mother’s Day brunch at a lovely spot called Seasons of Southampton. We spent the entire afternoon at the beach which ended up being completely empty despite the perfect weather. We saw Calvin Klein’s 15,000 square foot house being built right on the beach. We topped off the wonderful day back at the pool with some more white wine. I am so thankful to Christen and her family for allowing me visit for the weekend.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

Bright Lights and the Big City

Summer is officially here. This weekend was the first time that the temperatures broke the 100° mark. It was also the hottest it’s been in the city since 1991. The worst part of the warm weather is having to venture down in the unbearably hot subway stations and wait for the next train to arrive. I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with the weather though. I complain about it being too hot and then I complain about all of the snow and below zero temperatures. I’m learning to embrace the four seasons and make the best out of each one!

Courtney’s 23rd birthday was in June and of course a birthday calls for a full weekend of celebrations! I surprised Courtney with a party cruise on the Hudson River around Manhattan. It was a perfect night out on the water with breathtaking views of the city skyline. We also spent another night at our favorite bar in the city with all of our friends!

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks back in Florida. It’s always so wonderful to be home, especially in the summertime! I spent my first day back with two of my best friends. The soon-to-be bride, Kate and I spent an afternoon at my favorite Mexican place, Casa Tina’s gushing over wedding plans. That evening, I had a lovely girl’s night with Lindsey in South Tampa. And of course I got to hang out with two of my best buddies, Rugby and Roxy.

Every time I visit, I beg my brother to make his famous tacos and homemade salsa for dinner. Since he’s practically a professional chef by now, I send him all the recipes I’m too lazy to make myself. He put corn on the cob on the grill and covered it in a spicy chipotle cheese sauce…it was to die for! Since we let Tyler and Mom slave over the stove, Mariah and I took care of the beverages- margaritas in a bag! What a delicious family meal.

On Sunday, we decided to do something educational on my visit. We acted like tourists in our own town and went down to St. Pete to the Dali Museum. I never knew too much about Salvador Dali and his artwork but after a few hours in the museum, I instantly became a fan. I loved the double meanings behind each painting and the stories each piece of work holds. The building was an incredible piece of architecture. There was a giant spiral staircase in the middle of museum hall and the outside of the building was made of bright blue glass. On the way back from the Dali, we stopped at Ceviche for tapas and sangria. I felt like we spent an exotic day in Spain!

One of my favorite things about Florida summers are the picturesque sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. There’s just something so peaceful about the colorful rays reflecting off the sparkling water. I went out to Bon Appetit at the Dunedin Marina for dinner one night. After enjoying my meal overlooking the ocean, Mom and I decided to beach hop for sunset. Each beach provided a different view of the sun and made for a perfect summer night.

Since the Fourth of July was on a Monday this year, it was a good excuse to celebrate on both Sunday and Monday. I think I wore every piece of red, white, and blue clothing I own and decided to turn the whole weekend into a patriotic celebration. On Sunday, I went to Innisbrook with some friends to catch the July 3rd fireworks. It wouldn’t be a Florida night without a thunderstorm looming over us. As soon as the fireworks ended, the lightning show began, which was closely follower by a downpour. I spent the Fourth of July watching the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest (which grosses me out after the first 5 minutes), swimming in the pool, and at my friend Kate’s patriotic BBQ! The night ended with more fireworks at Crystal Beach and sparklers.

Two weeks ago, Jacob came to visit NYC for the weekend. Even though he lives in London and always seems to be traveling, this was his first visit to the Big Apple. Courtney and I took him to Times Square at night, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, and took the skyride to Roosevelt Island which made for the most beautiful views of Manhattan all lit up.

Last week my friend Laura from college moved to NYC. As one of our first city outings together, we decided to stand along the red carpet for the “Crazy Stupid Love” movie premiere at Ziegfeld Theater. We were lucky enough to see and meet some big Hollywood stars- Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Steve Carell, and Julianna Moore. In case you were wondering, Ryan Gosling is even more attractive in person, if that is even possible.

I feel so lucky to have two amazing places that I can call home. The beautiful state of Florida, full of gorgeous sunsets, family and friends, and the warm summer nights…and New York City- bustling streets, new friends, and the city of dreams.