Since U Been Gone

It has been a bit since my last post. They say “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I’ve filled the last few months with plane tickets and passport stamps. I ended 2014 “the year of travel” by spending an incredible 10 days in London, Paris, and Brussels. As soon as 2015 arrived, I headed up to North Carolina to visit family then on to Las Vegas and sunny Los Angeles. Now that my life has settled down a bit before my next big adventure, I thought it would be the perfect time to play catch up.

IMG_7617^^Colorful blooms at the Columbia Road Flower Market in London.

IMG_7074^^Taking a quick snap inside the photobooth at Giada’s new Vegas eatery!

IMG_8736^^Every single building in Paris is so simply beautiful.

IMG_7011^^A carousel constructed entirely of fresh flowers inside the Wynn Vegas.

DSC_4472^^The incredible Jeff Koons exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^A casual baguette lunch across from The Louvre in the Tuileries Garden.

IMG_8168^^It wouldn’t be a trip to Belgium without a Belgian waffle!

IMG_9517^^A collection of the old Vegas neon signs at the Neon Museum boneyard.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^A ridiculously good chocolate hazelnut cookie at Sycamore Kitchen in LA.

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.

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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Mini Donut Pumpkins

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I love donuts…that’s no secret. I’m guilty of stopping at Dunkin’ a bit too often. The ceramic donut bank on my desk doesn’t help my constant cravings. So painting mini pumpkins like my favorite sugary breakfast item seemed only natural. I stopped by a local pumpkin patch (or two or three…I love pumpkins, okay?) and picked up a whole bunch of mini pumpkins for an afternoon of Halloween DIY fun!

Step 1: Pop off the stem of the mini pumpkin or cut it short so it doesn’t get in the way of the donut hole.

Step 2: Use a matte spray paint (in a light tan color, mine came out a bit too dark) to coat the pumpkin and let it completely dry overnight. Using a coat or two of spray paint helps get rid of the pumpkin’s waxy texture so the frosting layer of paint goes on a little smoother.

Step 3: Pick out your frosting colors. I went for the classic chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Use a tiny brush to draw the frosting outline and a little circle on top for the donut hole then fill in the rest with a larger paintbrush. You might need 2-3 coats depending on the thickness of the paint.

Step 4: Once the frosting paint layer is completely dry, it’s time to add the sprinkles! I opted for puffy paint. It was extremely easy to add the sprinkles this way plus the three-dimensional texture made them looked even more realistic.

Step 5: I dare you not to take a bite out of your new little treats. They look almost good enough to eat!

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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.

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!

Beach Chic

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The first question I usually get living in Florida is “do you go to the beach all the time?” The next question is “why are you so pale?” Hah, but seriously, I get that a lot. Honestly, I’ve never been a big beach person. I’m not a huge fan of baking under the sweltering sun, burning to a crisp, and tracking mass amounts of sand into my car. I spent the day at Postcard Inn on St. Pete Beach for my birthday last month and I could really get used to this type of “beach day.” This old time motel was built in 1957 and later turned into a swanky vacation spot complete with beachfront hammocks, colorful books lining the lobby shelves, fish netting dangling from the ceiling, and sunset murals adorning the walls. Talk about the perfect place for a little rest and relaxation.

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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!