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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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.

A Day in the Life

1. Beautiful glass stars overhead at Red Mesa Cantina. // 2. Celebrating the start of “autumn” with rooftop drinks at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach. // 3. First cool morning so I took full advantage of reading + morning coffee on the porch. // 4. Spontaneous afternoon at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino for a little blackjack. // 5. The best orange margaritas at Casa Tina’s in Dunedin. // 6. My favorite Ladurée macarons shipped straight from NYC. // 7. Fancy dessert night at the Bern’s Dessert Room. // 8. Giuliana Rancic celebrating her one year anniversary at HSN. // 9. The most perfect Florida sunset. The sky looked like it was on fire.

Sugar Rush

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been overindulging in desserts lately. I’ve always had a sweet tooth but it doesn’t help when you find a few really great local bakeries to add fuel to that fire. I haven’t had much time to bake recently so I figured why not pick up treats from some spots around town?

^^Pastel macarons at the new French cafe Vendôme in downtown St. Pete.

^^Doughnut heaven at Dough in South Tampa. Red velvet, maple bacon, root beer float, and Reese’s doughnuts.

^^Nutella crepes topped with salted caramel + chocolate gelato.

^^Massive raspberry mousse-filled macarons with fresh raspberries. {This was my favorite dessert!}

^^My first cold brew coffee + a cinnamon sugar cronut at Dough.

Today is also the 3rd birthday of my blog! It started as a way to share my life in New York City with all of my friends and family and has now turned into something much more. I hope that you continue to share in my inspiration + creativity on Life is a Red Carpet.

A Day in the Life

1. Spent the day by the pool with cold drinks + homemade guacamole. // 2. The wall of Pantone colors at Lowe’s. One of these days I’m going to paint stripes on my walls. // 3. My first cronut + cold brew coffee from Dough. // 4. Betsey Johnson at the HSN studios kicking off her new collection. // 5. A frosted mug filled with root beer at Woody’s Root Beer Stand in Ohio. // 6. Lena Dunham made the front page of the Tampa Bay Times for her comment about how all of the artsy people are leaving NYC for Tampa. // 7. The most amazing spinach salad + caprese sandwich at Alesia in St. Pete. // 8. My new autumn scent: Trish McEvoy’s Sexy No. 9 // 9. A massive raspberry mousse-filled macaron from Dough to celebrate Pretty Little Liars night.

For more updates follow me on Instagram {username: lifeisaredcarpet} or become a fan on Facebook.

The City That Never Sleeps

There’s something so magical about photographs and the way they can capture a moment. Sometimes living in the past just for a split second can rekindle your love for a place you once adored. That’s one of the reasons I’m constantly snapping pictures when I’m somewhere I want to remember.

Spending a few days back in my old town under a rainy haze made me realize how much I miss the city life. It gives me comfort to know that I’m only a plane ride away. I’ve planted a new chapter of my life back in the Sunshine State and I’m so lucky to hold both of these places close to my heart.

^^The most amazing carnitas tacos at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg.

^^Picnic-themed cookies from Dylan’s Candy Bar.

^^MARC by Marc Jacobs zipper earrings.

^^LaduréeUniqlo collaboration = adorable macaron tees.

^^Cat shopping bags at Topshop.

Back to December

November ended up being quite the exciting month! I’m delighted to share some wonderful news- my younger brother Tyler proposed to his girlfriend Mariah out on a beautiful farm in Brooksville under the stars! My brother’s best friend, Rob, and I headed out to the farm earlier in the day to get everything set up for the big night. We lit the mason jar candles, got the bonfire crackling, strung pictures of Tyler and Mariah amongst hay bales, and set out the sparkling diamond ring.

Since my brother does concert and event lighting, he told Mariah he had to go scope out a venue for a “wedding” that week. She went with him to check out the Hitching Post Barn and much to her surprise, he got down on one knee and popped the question! I was lucky enough to see the whole thing and the look on her face was priceless. It was such a beautiful moment and I feel so blessed so have been a part of the day with them.

I found out one of my best friends from NYC, who now works in North Carolina, was going to be in St. Augustine for the weekend. Since I hadn’t seen Caryn since she left NYC, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for a last minute roadtrip. I drove to Gainesville to pick up Chelsea so we could spend the day in St. Augustine. I forgot how charming the town was. We stopped by several bakeries for fudge and rainbow colored macarons, popped into quirky little gift shops, and ended the night at the UNC soccer game to support Caryn and her team.

I decided to spend the rest of the weekend in Gainesville with Chelsea. She was able to escape her dental school studying so we could venture around town. We had Sunday brunch at a cute little place called Sisters. The area was full of quaint restaurants and white picket fences. We spent the rest of the day shopping, laying by her pool, watching movies, and enjoying the crisp autumn air.

I was quite thrilled to be home for my first Thanksgiving in 3 years. As much as I loved spending time in New Jersey with friends for the holiday, there’s nothing like waking up at home to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with family. I helped my mom in the kitchen before we spent the afternoon with family friends. I started the Black Friday shopping at 7pm on Thanksgiving evening. After a long night of battling lines and pushing through crowds, I ended up with two DVDs and some shampoo. Not one of my more successful shopping years.

On the day after Thanksgiving, a friend of mine told me I was on Perez Hilton. When I first moved to NYC in 2010, I met the cast of Gossip Girl and sent in the picture to Perez Hilton in hopes of it being posted in the fan section. Who knew two years later that photo would make it to the website! I can now say I was featured on a celebrity tabloid site.

There is Nothing Like Fifth Avenue

I spent my final week in NYC packing boxes, selling furniture, and saying goodbye to some of my favorite places. The first night my mom arrived, we took the train over to Hoboken, New Jersey to meet some of my friends for “Pretty Little Liars” trivia night at a local bar. Beforehand, we decided to make a pit stop at Carlo’s Bake Shop from the TLC show “Cake Boss.” After waiting in line for an hour, we were finally granted access to the coveted pastry shop. It was a complete madhouse inside but we ended up with a box full of cannolis, cream puffs, and a mini red velvet cakes.

At trivia that night, we originally won first place until a few minutes later they announced there was a calculation error and we had actually won second place. I was just impressed with how many questions we got correct. Looks like we are true Pretty Little Liars fans. I even got a shout out on Twitter from the show’s producer Marlene King who congratulated us on our win!

Throughout the week, I was lucky enough to spend time with most of my close friends. I had dinner at Empanada Mama with Alyssa, lunch at Peanut Butter & Co in the West Village, strolled through Washington Square Park, had a soft serve cone at Mister Softee, visited the September 11 Memorial, indulged in mini cupcakes at Baked By Melissa, and spent Thursday night at Brother Jimmy’s and Bourbon Street.

On Saturday night, we bought tickets to see Jersey Boys on Broadway. I had heard amazing things about the show but my mom had been dying to see it so she could sing along to all of Frankie Valli’s hit songs. After the show, we did a traditional post-Broadway meal at the iconic Sardi’s which has been a popular NYC landmark for the past 90 years. In true New York fashion, we didn’t finish dining until the clock struck midnight.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to a place you’ve lived in for several years. I spent my last day on my favorite street in all of Manhattan, Fifth Avenue. After a morning brunch, we wandered from E 79th Street down towards The Plaza Hotel. We stopped at Ladurée for macarons, did some shopping in Henri Bendel’s, and strolled along Central Park. With an arm full of shopping bags and the rain pouring down, we decided to call it a day. After a few hours of relaxing, we met Lauren at Shake Shack in Madison Square for my “last supper.”

I said goodbye to the apartment I had spent the last two years in. As bittersweet as it was to leave, I didn’t feel very sad cause I knew I was returning to the land of large closets, central AC, and full size kitchens. Mom and I spent many hours in the Delta Lounge at Laguardia Airport since the Florida thunderstorms delayed our flight 3 hours. I can’t complain since the lounge provides you with an open bar and free food. After a quick stop at Chick-Fil-A in Tampa, I was happy to finally be home.

My favorite blogger Emily Schuman of “Cupcakes and Cashmere” even sent me a welcome home tweet! What a great way to spend my first hour back in Florida.

Sparks Fly

We recently celebrated Courtney’s 24th birthday at Pier i Cafe out on the Hudson River. We arrived just in time for sunset and spent the night under the stars celebrating with friends. On Sunday morning, we had a lovely Mexican brunch at Gabriela’s and topped off the day with some frozen yogurt. Our friend Steven, who we recently visited in DC, happened to be in town so it was great he could join us!

Christen and I spent an evening at the rooftop club Le Bain on top of The Standard Hotel. It was such a glamorous setting, lounging on white leather couches and overlooking lower Manhattan. The cucumber lemon coolers were quite delicious as well. On Saturday, we did some shopping on Fifth Avenue and stopped for macarons at the Parisian bakery, Ladurée on the Upper East Side. It was one of those days that felt like a vacation in my own town.

On the Fourth of July, I was lucky enough to be invited to a VIP Macy’s event by my friend Alyssa and her family. We brought our blankets out to the private grassy area and enjoyed an afternoon of free food from Dos Caminos and Bill’s Burgers, Food Network chef Marcus Samuelsson conducting food demonstrations, free Macy’s gift bags, and a beautiful view of the Hudson River. We were lucky enough to meet Nigel Barker, famous photographer and judge on American’s Next Top Model.

After a great day at the event, we were prepped for the NBC telecast that would be filmed right in front of us  that night. I was lucky to have the chance to stand right next to Regis Philbin at the telecast and had a front row view for the fireworks. We saw four sets of fireworks shoot off over the river while the American music played loud on the speakers. What an amazing New York experience!

I just spent a wonderful weekend with my brother in town. We ate at some great restaurants, ventured to four different boroughs, and challenged each other at Scrabble. More to come in the next post…