Sunshine State Summer

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Summertime in Florida can be brutal. You have to occupy yourself with things that involve AC otherwise the sweltering heat can ruin your summer days. There’s only so much time you can spend at the beach so I’ve been discovering new local spots for brunch and dessert (the two most important meals of the day). With a stop in Palm Beach, night strolls along the beach at sunset, gelato at the Italian market, rooftop pool parties, and even more vacations to look forward to..I’d say it’s been a pretty successful summer.

IMG_3479^^The colorful ride at Mazzaro’s Italian Market. The most incredible spot…gelato bar, pastries, homemade pasta, and a wine & cheese room.

IMG_3753^^Indulging in a Nutella-filled eclair after our French-inspired brunch at Piquant.

IMG_2717^^A weekend trip to a Palm Beach palace.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^Macarons galore at Chocolate Pi inside the new Epicurean Hotel in Tampa.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset^^Orange creamsicle beers on a sunny day at 7venth Sun Brewery.IMG_2718

IMG_2456^^Old fashioned cocktails served on an antique door at Mandarin Hide.

IMG_2947^^Incredibly delicious spicy Asian tacos at Oxford Exchange.

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Life Starts All Over Again When it Gets Crisp in the Fall

Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. The crisp temperatures, the vivid oranges and reds of the leaves, and pumpkins lining every street. I flew up to Ohio a few weeks ago for a quick two day trip. Although it was short, we squeezed in as much family time as possible. Our first stop was my mom’s favorite childhood spot, Taggarts. There’s nothing like their homemade peanut butter fudge ice cream.

We were lucky that it warmed up a bit during the day so we stopped by Gervasi Vineyard in Canton for a glass of wine and a relaxing afternoon by the lake. The leaves were just beginning to change colors, families were gathered around a fire, and kids were playing corn hole beside the lake. It was the picture of perfection.

I’ve really enjoyed getting involved at my brother’s church in Tampa recently. About 40 of us got together and went over to the dessert room at Bern’s Steak House. I ordered a trio of mini chocolate cakes filled with dulce de leche and topped with a salted caramel gelato. I can safely say the cafe con leche was the most incredible thing I’ve ever had to drink. Every dessert was extremely indulgent and the presentation was impeccable.

After our sugar feast, we took a tour of the kitchen and the wine cellar. Bern’s has over 500,000 bottles of wine- some dating back to 1810. They hold the largest wine collection in the country!

Weekend adventures have to be one of my favorite things. Just getting in the car and driving, soaking up the sunshine, and spending time with friends is the absolute best. My friend Anna and I went to Datz in Tampa for a delicious Sunday brunch. Afterwards, we felt compelled to pop into the bakery next door. We were delighted to find ghost and candy corn shaped cookies. We ended our day at Cigar City Brewing for a tour and tasting. What a cool local spot and great local craft beers!

I found out that Giuliana and Bill Rancic would be speaking at the University of South Florida and was thrilled at the chance to see them in person. Kate and I drove over to Tampa and waited in line for an hour with the hundreds of eager fans.

It was such an inspiration to hear Giuliana speak about her career at E! News, her road to recovery from breast cancer, and what it was like having her first child via surrogate. Her husband, Bill Rancic, was the winner of the first season of The Apprentice and is a very successful Chicago businessman. The relationship between them is something I strive to have in the future- what a beautiful friendship and marriage they have!

I currently have the windows open and am enjoying the break from 90 degree weather. I miss NYC in the autumn but I’m thankful to live in a place where freak blizzards on Halloween are not likely. Stay warm my northern friends, I’ll be enjoying the sunshine for you.