A Day in the Life

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1. Homemade caramel corn since I’ve been constantly dreaming about autumn. // 2. Makeup + jewelry purchases from a recent shopping trip (obsessed with Dr. Jart’s BB Cream). // 3. “The Bramble” at Tryst Gastro Lounge– blackberries, mint + champagne. // 4. Weekend trip to Sarasota, view from brunch at Shore Diner. // 5. Berry crumble in a cast iron skillet at Boca Hyde Park. // 6. Shades, magazines + homemade peach mojitos by the pool. // 7. Posing with the obnoxiously large bath loofahs that looked like French baguettes at the Sponge Docks. // 8. Movie night + colorful ice cream sandwiches. // 9. “Outfit change.”

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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.

City of Blinding Lights {Part 2}

I’m excited to share this post with you since it has to do with two of my favorite things! There’s nothing like a really great dessert and a brand new pair of shoes. And if you were wondering where to find these two things in the city, you’re in luck.

Five Favorite NYC Desserts

1. Vanilla Cupcakes at Magnolia’s Bakery – Although I prefer chocolate over vanilla any day, these vanilla cupcakes are unlike any other. You can watch the cupcakes being iced right behind the counter. They taste like they were baked in your grandma’s kitchen and there is just something so wonderful about them.

2. Frozen Yogurt at Pinkberry – Pinkberry is located in various states around the country but it was in NYC that I first fell in love. There are several flavors close to my heart- the original tart, mango, and salted caramel. I love the various toppings they put on the frozen yogurt. Here’s a little inside tip- they have cheesecake bites hidden in the back so don’t be afraid to ask for them when ordering.

3. Chocolate Cannolis at Ferrara Bakery – As if I didn’t love regular cannolis enough, they decided to dip these in a chocolate hard shell. If you’ve never been to this bakery in Little Italy, I suggest you stop by as soon as possible. I love ordering the mini pastries so I can try out a bunch of different ones. My other recommendations are the fresh fruit tartlets and cream puffs.

4. Salted Caramel Gelato at Il Laboratorio del Gelato – This is the best gelato I’ve had outside of Italy. There’s something so amazing about this savory sweet flavor. The best part about this spot is that they have over 250 flavors to choose from and they’re all created in the laboratory right behind the counter. This Lower East Side spot is perfect for an after dinner treat. They have all of the classic gelato flavors as well as my other favorites- root beer, cream cheese, and lavender.

5. Vanilla Soft Serve Cone with Chocolate Sprinkles at Mister Softee – I understand that this is a simple ice cream truck that serves basic ice cream cones but Mister Softee and I have a special relationship. Being a huge ice cream lover, it’s great that Mister Softee has about 100 trucks that can be found all over Manhattan. Let me warn you though, make sure you only purchase from the REAL Mister Softee because there are knock-off trucks trying to fool people all over the city.

Five Favorite NYC Shopping Spots

1. Forever 21 in Times Square – I’m a huge Forever 21 fan and what could be more amazing than a five story location in the heart of Manhattan? Despite the tourists and hundreds of preteen girls flocking to the store, it’s still one of my favorite places to shop.

2. Henri Bendel Flagship Store on Fifth Avenue – Every time I walk into Bendel’s, I like to pretend I’m Blair Waldorf stepping into a shopping mecca. I have purchased some of my favorite jewelry inside of this gorgeous store. Every girl needs something that sparkles and this is the place to find it.

3. Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market – Before moving to NYC, I never appreciated a good flea market. I thought they were full of junk and never took the time to notice they were full of treasures. They sell everything from jewelry to antiques to vintage clothing. This weekend market is open year round and is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

4. Topshop – If I was forced to spend all of my money in one store, it would definitely be Topshop. They have the most unique selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories. Although the prices don’t allow for frequent shopping sprees, I can be caught perusing the racks and drooling over the shoes quite often.

5. Century 21 – This Financial District shopping staple is a great place to spot a good deal. I recommend hitting the store during the week when the tourists are at a minimum. My favorite part of this location is the massive warehouse-type room filled with every kind of purse imaginable. Although you’ll spend at least 30 minutes in line for the fitting room, you’ll always walk out with a great purchase.

What a World, What a Life, What a Winter

I’m proud to say I’ve almost survived my first New York winter. It’s been brutal and a huge change from my “winters” in Florida. My earmuffs and puffy coat have become my best friends. I’ve learned that all you need to stay warm is a wardrobe full of proper winter clothes. I got to experience my first snow storm a few days after the new year began. The snow lined trees and rolling hills of Central Park were quite a site to see when completely covered in snow.

Courtney and I have been on many adventures since she’s moved to the city. One Saturday morning we were trying to decide what to do with our day and we somehow ended up in Coney Island. I’ve only seen the boardwalk in movies and have always wanted to see it in person. Well, the dead of winter is not exactly the best time to visit. It was cold, deserted, and gloomy. We lasted on the boardwalk for 15 minutes until we went to seek shelter from the cold inside of Nathan’s Hotdogs. We got to experience the famous Coney Island landmark. One of the coolest sights though was the beach covered in snow. I’m looking forward to going back to Coney Island in the summer and enjoying the beach when it will be MUCH warmer!

I always love when my friends from back home come to visit me in the city! One of my college friends Zaina came to stay with me 2 weeks ago. On our first night out, we went to a restaurant called Simone Martini Bar. We had delicious martinis and a fabulous dinner inside this Victorian themed restaurant. We ended our night at one of my favorite bars, Angels and Kings. The owner of the bar is Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and this has quickly become one of our favorite places to frequent.

Since living in the city, I’ve realized how easy it is to have any type of food you want delivered to your apartment. Pinkberry is one of the most delicious frozen yogurt places plus they have so many flavors and toppings to chose from. We decided we wanted some and since it was about 20 degrees outside, we figured it would be easier to have it delivered (always a good choice). The next day we visited The High Line- an old railroad track that has been turned into a walkway above the city. The wooden boardwalk is full of grassy areas, lounge chairs, and gorgeous flowers but in the wintertime it’s mostly a mixture of snow and dead grass. The views from The High Line are breathtaking. From one side you can see the Hudson and the other side is the bustling streets of Manhattan.

In January I had the opportunity to move from my internship at Fuse to intern at Madison Square Garden in the Entertainment Department. This was a huge step for me because I am now working in the same office as the concert department. This semester I’m working specifically on Entertainment Marketing with the world famous Radio City Rockettes. I got the chance to see the backstage areas of Radio City Music Hall and meet some of the Rockettes. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing opportunity and fingers crossed, this internship will finally lead me into a full-time position with Madison Square Garden!

Towards the end of January, we had a huge snowstorm. I had my first “snow day” and spent the day inside my apartment where it was warm and dry but I had to venture out to take some pictures of the insane amounts of snow we received. Cars were absolutely covered to the point that it just looked like mounds of snow along the street. Every tree branch was completely white and the ground was covered in ice. It was pretty incredible to see so much snow in the middle of a big city.

February is my 6 month anniversary of living in New York City and every day that I spend here, I love it more and more!

I believe Valentine’s Day is not only about eating lots of chocolate and wearing pink, but about letting all of my friends and family know how much I love them! I’m so thankful for each and every one of you.

“Love is missing someone whenever you’re apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you’re close in heart.”