I’ll Be Home for Christmas

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Most Black Friday shoppers spend their day battling crowds at the mall; instead, I ditched the retail madness, hopped on a plane, and traveled 4,000 miles across the world. Although Thanksgiving had just ended for us in America, Christmas was in full swing overseas. The big ceramic bulbs were dangling from the ceiling at Covent Gardens in London, the upside down Christmas tree was sparkling at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, and fresh holly lined the window sills of chocolate shops in Brussels. As incredible as it was to spend time in a winter wonderland on the other side of the globe, there really is nothing like being at home for Christmas.

Wishing everyone a very happy and Merry Christmas with your loved ones!

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IMG_8431^^A classic Christmas wreath outside this iconic London hotel.

IMG_8430^^Christmas markets on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

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IMG_8428^^Merry Christmas….from PARIS!

IMG_8424^^A pink “Christmas tree” made of dessert boxes at Ladurée in Brussels.

IMG_8426^^Baby Christmas trees waiting to be adopted in Belgium.

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Pumpkin Carving Party

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October is my favorite month of the year. The crisp, cool air…the colorful leaves on the trees…oh wait, that doesn’t happen in Florida! Every year, I make a desperate attempt to celebrate autumn despite the 80° temperatures. I invited a few friends over to carve pumpkins but ending up spending most of our time hovered over the food table. I mean who wouldn’t be impressed with a Jack-O-Lantern shaped veggie platter and bloody knife cupcakes? The rest of our night included sipping on cider, enjoying the beautiful weather and everyone cramming onto the couch to watch Halloweentown.

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Bon Appétit

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It seems like every visit I make back to NYC revolves around food. It’s necessary to stop at all of my favorite spots for a bite even when making a quick trip. I started off my Fourth of July weekend with patriotic doughnuts and iced coffee at Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. The trip continued with fireworks on a friend’s rooftop in Brooklyn, a glamorous Italian dinner at the Mondrian in Soho, beautiful pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery (sadly, they were sold out of cronuts for the day), and Upper East Side cocktails to escape the heat.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^The most ornate French pastries at the newest Ladurèe in Soho.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset ^^Lime Me Up tart with brown sugar sea salt at Dominique Ansel Bakery.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset ^^I need these doughnut pillows that adorn the wall at Doughnut Plant.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^Patriotic doughnuts calling my name.

IMG_4331^^Our view of Manhattan before the fireworks on the Fourth. 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset ^^Spaghetti Al Limone & Garganelli Bolognese at Isola Trattoria. I wish I could teleport this pasta to my kitchen right now.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^Our view while we ate our pasta. The glass chandeliers were absolutely stunning.

DSC_3999^^Escaping the heat with cold cocktails at Upstairs at the Kimberly.

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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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A Day in the Life

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1. The sunflower booth at the Saturday Morning Market always has a line wrapped around the block. // 2. Homemade salted caramel brownie cookie sandwiches; the cousin to my famous red velvet cookies. // 3. Root beer floats under twinkling lights at Urban Brew & BBQ. // 4. Colorful cocktails overlooking Beach Drive at The Canopy. // 5. Checking out Scarlet Johansson’s newest indie flick “Under the Skin” at the enchanting Tampa Theater. // 6. Ridiculously delicious Nutella banana waffles at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe. // 7. Lady Gaga in Ft. Lauderdale kicking off the first night of her artRave world tour! // 8. Quiet afternoon underneath the wall of lamps at Mandarin Hide. // 9. French macarons and blood orange mimosas for brunch at Birch + Vine.

Paris is Always a Good Idea

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Paris is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever had the chance to visit. The decadent pastries, the charming cafes, the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, the high fashion pieces adorning the windows of the Champs-Élysées…so many of my favorite things in one place. While I was in NYC last month, I stopped by the new Ladurée tea house in Soho modeled after the Paris location. Rose petal tea, French Toast, and macarons while dining under a crystal chandelier is my idea of the perfect breakfast.

Then it was out for a quick stroll around snowy Central Park, Fifth Avenue shopping, and a stop by the always stunning Bergdorf window displays. I suppose NYC is a pretty good substitute for Paris but there sure is nothing like the City of Lights.

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Pink Palms

As residents of the Sunshine State, we are so lucky to have January days that look like this. Although we have our chilly nights, most days are full of blue skies and palm trees swaying in the wind. I spent last weekend exploring the historic Vinoy in downtown St. Petersburg. The hotel was unveiled back in the Jazz Age, almost 90 years ago. Something about the mix of modern design and old world charm make the Vinoy quite a site to see.

^^The stunning yellow chandeliers inside the hotel’s lobby.

^^This took my love of lighting fixtures to a whole new level. A one-of-a-kind Chihuly blown glass piece.

^^I loved the delicate detailing on the exterior of the hotel.

^^Sunny day essentials at The Birchwood’s rooftop lounge.

^^Nothing beats a pretty petite pastry from Cassis American Brasserie.

A Day in the Life

1. The bookstore inside Oxford Exchange is so romantic, I could spend all afternoon in there. // 2. I Love the ‘Burg‘s downtown St. Pete ‘Bougie Brunch’ at Everything Dolce. A Sunday full of champagne + cannolis. // 3. Oversized chandeliers at the new Charming Charlie store, my jewelry mecca. // 4. Beautiful makeup courtesy of MAC Cosmetics. Sporting my new favorite lip color Candy Yum Yum. // 5. Champagne in front of the fireplace on the rooftop of The Birchwood. // 6. The most amazing Christmas present I could have ever hoped for- a pink KitchenAid Pro 600 Stand Mixer. A baker’s dream come true! // 7. Tater tots + lemon basil crème fraîche at Anise Global Gastrobar in downtown Tampa. One of the coolest spots I’ve found. // 8. It was a very Kate Spade New Year’s Eve – Pop Fizz Clink! // 9. My LC Lauren Conrad baker’s necklace. I even got a tweet from Lauren Conrad herself after posting this photo!

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!

Fruit Tart

Ever since visiting Paris when I was 18, I have always been fascinated by miniature French pastries. The little fruit tarts always appealed to me the most…something about the dainty fruit underneath the shiny glaze made them almost too pretty to eat. I was hosting my now sister-in-law’s bachelorette party and decided to make this full size Fruit Tart. I mean, what screams “bachelorette” more than this classy dessert? Hah, kidding of course….but it sure went well with our neverending glasses of wine and the girls seemed to gobble it up!