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Every year it is my goal to visit one place I’ve never been. This year it was Mexico City. I’ll start by saying that Mexico is a very poor country. It has beautiful areas for sure, and amazing art, food, and history, but the life of a tourist in Mexico and the life of an actual Mexican is markedly different I believe. The good life is relatively cheap for a visitor, but not necessarily for the people who call Mexico home. This was my impression. Whenever I went somewhere upscale, it was mostly English that I heard. Moi does not go on vacation to rough it, so I want to say that I don’t think I had a proper Mexican experience by any means… but I did have a good one.

Lots of things in Mexico City are very inexpensive compared to the states. For one, Uber is SUUUUUUPER cheap. From the airport to my hotel it cost about $5! The same was true of almost every other ride I took. I didn’t have to worry about public transportation, because at those prices, getting around Mexico City was very hassle free and inexpensive.

Also cheap: Churros. I think out of the 5 days I was in Mexico City, I went to Chuerria El Moro three times. As far as sweet things go, that was my favorite thing I ate. I ordered mine “con canelle“ (with cinnamon). The portion is muy grande. What can I tell you dears? I need the super size portion to match my increasingly fat ass. It’s all about balance. I went to the one closest to my hotel, which is the original, dating back to 1935. Supposedly they are open 24 hours. I tested this, as any intrepid traveller would. Moi tried to get her fix around 6 one morning before hunting for street art, but the doors were locked. Piggy snout pressed against the cold glass, I was forced to return a couple hours later … but return I did. Kind of like a crack addict. Did you know studies show that sugar is more addictive than cocaine? I shit you not.

My hotel was completely fabulous. I stayed in the Historic District at a place called Downtown. It’s a lovely boutique hotel with several restaurants and fancy gift shops centered around a gorgeous open courtyard. My room was minimal with double height ceilings and old world features that went back to the 17th century from when it was originally known as the Palace of the Miravalle. I can’t recommend Downtown enough. The location was great, the rooms and the hotel are stunning, and the free breakfast … like I said, I’m looking very meaty at the moment.

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Frida Kahlo Museum: This was the main reason I wanted to come to Mexico (aside from churros). I wanted to see where my favorite human lived, painted, loved, and died. It was the highlight of my adventure. I loved walking through the same gardens that Frida was photographed in time and time again, but it’s more than that. There is something so intimate about walking through her home, seeing the studio she painted in, the bed that she lay in (it had a mirror affixed to the top so that she could paint self portraits), and her final resting place: an urn in her bedroom. The Casa Azul is a beautiful, colorful, yet elegant home in a lovely region of the city known as Coyocan. Being in her home, imagining her moving through it, entertaining in her dining room, and playing with her animals in her garden… it was just so special to me. I can see why she loved Mexico so much. If I lived at Casa Azul I’d be hard pressed to leave it too. It’s clear why she found New York so dreary coming from a place like this (although she obviously had not had the clafoutis at Le Coucou). There were some beautiful art works of hers on display too, some of which I have not seen before. The experience of being where Frida walked, of touching the structures that she may have touched, it was kind of magical for me.

Later I would go to the Mexican Museum of Modern art just to see what I consider one of her most poignant works: The Two Fridas. Standing right in front of it, I felt so much emotion, I almost cried. That work says so much to me. It’s the Frida who is her true soul’s self (holding a locket of her husband Diego) trying to comfort her second self, the wife, as her heart hemorrhages. Every woman who has ever loved a man, I think, even if she couldn’t put the words to paper, would look at that painting and totally get it. It’s amazing how I’ve seen so many photos of it, yet standing in front of the real thing was such a different experience. It had the power to move me like no photograph could.

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Ballet Folklorico: In the beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes, every Wednesday and Saturday there is a wonderful performance by the Ballet Folklorico. It typifies what you imagine when you think of Mexico: lots of color, fun, and tons of good energy.  Watching the traditional singing and dancing will definitely make you smile. If you are visiting Mexico City, especially if this is your first time, you must go. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but it was pretty freaking spectacular!

But you guys know the main reason I travel. It’s really all about the food for me. I didn’t ONLY eat churros. No, one only needs to see the way my jeans are bursting at the seams to figure that one out. There was much eating going on. MUCH.

Of all my foodie excursions, I was most excited about dining at Pujol after seeing it on NetFlix’s Chef’s Table. I just HAD to go. Even a month in advance, however, I could not get a table. There were no reservations available online, but after writing them an email, they kindly made room for little piggy Caroline. This was my first experience with a tasting menu. It was wonderful to enjoy so many little bits of deliciousness, and so many layers upon layers of coordinating flavors. It was quite a production, almost theatrical, and surprisingly lengthy, but I enjoyed every bit. This was undoubtedly the biggest extravagance of my trip. I think it cost about $160 USD, but as Pujol is considered one of the highest ranking restaurants in the world,  I feel I got a bargain — well, that’s how I justify it anyway. Let’s just face it, I don’t do dollar menus. Life is too short. Next thing you know I’ll be eating Chef Boyardee out of can — quelle horreur!!

By the way, I want to mention that I was not the only woman eating alone here. I spied at least two other female solo diners. I thought this was so cool. Nod to my sistahs who aren’t afraid to get their chow on all by themselves (I absolutely hate how women eating alone in fine restaurants is so stigmatized! Dismember the patriarchy dollies, one taco at a time!!!).

The highlights of my meal included the “street corn”  –presented in a smoke filled pumpkin– which actually had crushed ants on it (!), and the 1,874 day old Madre mole sauce. If you want to know more about the extravaganza, because it’s honestly quite fascinating and complex, check out Season 2 Episode 4 of Chef’s Table. Otherwise, here are some pictures:

Contramar was another fabulous restaurant I visited. This trendy and upscale seafood restaurant is the place to go for a  fishy feast. I had their house special, Pescado Contramar, which is basically grilled snapper with red and green sauces. It was so spectacularly fresh! This was followed a fabulous fig tart. But the thing I loved most were the tuna tostadas. They may have been my favorite thing I ate while in Mexico.

Another thing I’d totally recommend is the street food tour given by Club Tengo Hombre. Street food is very popular in Mexico City, but as a tourist only familiar with our American verision of Mexican food, I’d walk past the stalls and have no idea what I was looking at. It was actually quite intimidating. It was wonderful going with someone who took us to the best of the best, guiding us through the labyrinth. We made lots of stops which included two markets. My favorite morsel was our last stop at Taqueria Los Cocuyos where I tried a tongue taco. Simply awesome!

Well, I now have my first Latin American stamp in my passport, and I’m looking forward to more. Mexico was a wonderful adventure. I want to end this by mentioning that before going I had people warn me I’d get sick from the food/ water (no such thing happened).  I was also warned that Mexico City is dangerous (I experienced nothing of the sort). If you have any of those fears, put them aside. The only thing I can remember is some guy telling me that our president was an asshole. “Yeah, I’m sorry, I know,” I replied. He asked me for money. I gave him some change. We are lucky they don’t build a wall to keep US out.

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Let me start with a recommendation of what NOT to do when you are in New York. Don’t go to Vu Hair at the Peninsula Hotel. DON’T!!!!  Do. Fucking. Not!!! Getting my hair cut in New York has always been a treat for me. I try to go somewhere special. It’s a little way I like to spoil myself. This time I was trying a lovely sounding salon on the 22nd floor of a grand hotel. It got great Yelp reviews. I was excited. Well… Moi was in for a nasty surprise. ScissorHands did not listen to me when I told him what I wanted: three to four inches off the bottom and layering on the side.  Instead, my almost waist long hair (when straightened) was hacked to little more than shoulder length (a good 8 inches off). I was devastated. Into the lobby bathroom I went, where I cried for about twenty minutes — well, if you are going to cry like a big baby, it might as well be in some fancy bathroom. It heightens the drama. Am I right?

I always thought my hair was the most special part of me, the thing that made me pretty. My hair has always been long. From childhood, I have associated long hair with beauty. So to have it chopped so significantly… it was both shocking and somewhat devastating. It’s just hair, I know, but somehow the end result felt so brutal. Yeah, yeah, “it will grow back,” they tell me, like this is going to make things better. IN A FUCKING YEAR!!!! I now feel as attractive as a sack of potatoes.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so vain. I am more than what I look like. I know that. But even now as I write, I’m still upset about it. Traumatic.

Fuck that though. I’m still gonna roll like a gangsta. Shitty hair be damned. I shall move from the worst part of my vacation to the best. I saw my first ever concert. Going to see Florence + The Machine was the main reason for my trip. I didn’t know what to expect. Yeah, I could have seen her closer to home, but why would I do that when I could see her in Brooklyn? Makes no sense. Was it weird that I was going alone? Maybe a little, huh? I was nervous. Dealing with the unknown is always a little scary for me, but at the same time, I try to be brave. I don’t want life to pass me by. Was I going to stick out like a sore thumb? Was it going to be just completely and utterly awkward? 

Actually my dears, it was awesome. Ah Florence… could I possibly be more in love? Words don’t describe it. Her angelic aura, her super powerful voice, the way she danced in her diaphanous gown and bare feet, her beautiful bright spirit that lit up the Barclay Center. She is just so utterly lovely. Mostly she sang songs from her newest release, “High as Hope,” but there were some of her beloved classics too. Magical my lovelies, magical. I sang (yes, me!) … I even danced (if you could call it that). It was so special, a memory I will cherish forever.

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Of course there was plenty of eating. You know how I do, dollies. But I mostly stuck with my old favorites, so I am not going to bore you with stuff I’ve already written about previously. Suffice it to say, weight was surely gained. Need a fat ass to balance my awkward coiffure, methinks. And then there was the street art.

I found five Invader pieces to add to Moi collection. That always thrills me to bits.

And then I have some other beauties to share…

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Random fabulous
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Gumshoe Art, aka Angela China
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Public art installation by Derek Fordjour
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Vandal Gummy
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Piece by Buff Monster, Brooklyn
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Not Bad For a Girl, Indie184
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D*Face — somewhere of off Lafayette and Broome Street

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I make really poor food choices when I go on holiday. It starts from the beginning, at the airport. I am not to blame. It’s Lakeshia. She is someone I shared a Diet Coke with in Salt Lake City. We started off with a gigantic peanut butter cup… and the games began. From the beginning of the trip, to its culmination… all poor nutritional nutritional decision making were solely hers. Got that? She is naughty. She makes me do bad things.

Really, I don’t know how to tell you all the wonderful things that happened on my eight days of vacation, and I loathe to try. I mean ugh. I’d be typing forever! I am not one for writing super long posts, and I am not one for reading super long posts, so I will be leaving out A LOT of stuff. This is just a sampling of highlights.

First let’s start with Oregon. Portland is all about food. It’s my kind of city for sure, so food is where I shall begin:

Pok Pok: OMG those chicken wings. Totally worth the hype. I swear it. They smell a little odd (it’s the fish sauce), but wow. There is this sweet and spicy thing going on that is just perfection. If it was just me and Crazy Kat, I might have licked the plate, but her husband was there, and he don’t know me like that (though I think he has an inkling).

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The lavender honey ice cream at Salt & Straw … swoon worthy. They have a lot of amazing flavors, from the weird (and I mean super crazy and kinda yuck sounding, like bone marrow!), to the wonderful, but the lavender honey is the one that gets my vote. There is something about that flavor that just completely does it for me. I should also mention that the people who work there are fab. It makes a good experience even better.

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I really am a piglet. That’s definitely my porcine digits you see holding that big old cone aloft. I don’t do things by halves.

The biscuits at this most adorable little shop ever, Lauretta Jean’s. Oh gosh, these were sooooo good. Perfect, simple, and decadent. Gobs of butter, and a touch of honey. I was in heaven. Plus I just adored the vintage setting and all of the irresistible homemade pies on display which seemed to speak to me in a way that only my very own piglet ears can hear. Really, the place was unbearably charming.

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After biscuits we went street art hunting, and Portland actually has a great street art scene. I discovered a new artist I love called Fin DAC. Check out how clever this piece is. The geisha’s hair is actually composed of live plants. I believe this piece is called “Gratitude.”

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And really, there are so much more art pieces worth showing you, but it feels strange to me to lump them all together. I feel like it starts to cheapen the specialness of each individual work, so I’m not going do do that. Again, this post is just about showing you SOME of what I found special.

International Rose Test Garden– beautiful roses as far as the eye can see. Portland is actually known as the City of Roses, so there is no better place for this garden to exist. Some roses gave off the most exquisite fragrances, while some smelled of nothing. It’s somewhat odd being surrounded by so much beauty, you almost become numbed to it after a while. Each rose is more beautiful than the next. It was a wonderful experience, a Portland excursion that should not be missed.  I imagine that the rose garden would be an amazing setting to get married in *le sigh* … maybe one day.  Or donuts, those are fine too.

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Blue Star Donuts… okay the huge and slow moving line? So annoying, yet it was worth it. I got to try every donut I wanted. I tried five. Hey… be quiet okay? It is so cool being an adult because you can eat ungodly amounts of donut and nobody will stop you. It’s the law LOL!!! My favorite was the orange olive oil donut. It was so good that I bought some for the return flight home… because I could, and by that point I was already super fat, so whatever. And by the way, I did also try Voodoo Doughnuts, because how could I not? Save your calories. Kitch factor galore and a good Instagram opportunity for sure, but so meh!

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Crazy Kat’s stunning beach house in Arch Cape is  a contemporary masterpiece. Wow, that place is beyond impressive. I love knowing that someone I love so much gets something that gorgeous. A queen deserves a castle… on the beach… with fabulous bath tubs. Sometimes nature is lost on me, but through a giant glass wall in a luxury setting, the sunset looks especially beautiful. I can see why her Instagram is always peppered with so many sunsets! While in Arch Cape, we went to Cannon Beach where I got to see Haystack Rock. It was a rock formation that was pivotal in finding the pirate treasure in the 80s film, The Goonies. I found treasure in Oregon too. Problem is, I ate it.

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And Seattle? Well, I believe the first thing we did after grabbing some chocolates at Fran’s was to head to the famed Pike Place Market: a rabbit warren of fruits, vegetables, “flying” fish and all manner of touristy knickknacks that you will never find a use for.

Fran’s Chocolate: I was desperate to try the famed Coconut Gold Bar that was featured on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Chocolate and coconut is always a winner for me, but best thing I ever ate? Nope. I mean, it was good, but it wasn’t even in that vicinity. I did however find something in Seattle that did fit that bill though. It was a cake that will haunt my dreams forever. The Gateau Basque at a place called Sitka & Spruce. I die. Truly. I wrote to them to ask for the recipe. I do hope they respond.

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Of course I got to see the famous Space Needle. I like to think of it as the Eiffel Tower of the American west. It was right next to the Chihuly Garden and Glass where CK and I saw some stunning glass sculptures. Amongst all the gorgeousness, this one, by far, was my favorite:

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And of course I have to share some Seattle Street Art. D*Face was recently in Seattle doing an exhibit at Treason Gallery, and did two awesome murals, which I was only able to find thanks to CK. She is becoming quite adept at hunting street art. The first, “Careless Whisper” is not my photo, I just couldn’t get a good shot with all the cars that were parked in front of it. The second is of Kurt Cobain, who I consider synonymous with Seattle.

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I can’t possibly end this post without saying how much I adore Crazy Kat and her wonderful husband Blue Eyes (not to mention her two lovely boys which I finally had the pleasure of meeting). They are so kind and good to me.  I don’t know how I lucked out by meeting CK, but rather than question it, I thank thank the Universe for my good fortune. While I was there, it felt like every day was my birthday. Lots of love and thanks go out to you CK (though dear, you are an enabler, you totally let Lakeshia have her way… and we love you for it).

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Okay, so yeah, I have written about visiting NYC maaaaaany many times. Maybe you even got your barf bag ready, cause here Caroline goes again. But whateva, cause the place is just so beyond fabulous, dollies. I will never get sick of it, I will never stop going, and I’ll never stop writing about it. It is a constantly evolving city, and there are always new and wonderful things to eat, see, explore, and do. Still, I’m going to be easy on you and just share the highlights.

Pancakes. As per usual, I gorged myself on all manner of goodies, from my Levain cookies, to Grom gelato,  to the deservedly infamous lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar, and I finally managed to try the incredible pineapple linzer cookies at Te Company. But what completely blew my mind (or belly) into the cosmos was two delicious types of pancakes I discovered for the first time.

  • Exhibit A: The blubbery calfoutis at Le Coucou. Le Coucou is a very fancy French restaurant in the downtown area. I’d love to have dinner there but I’d feel a little self conscious going on my own for a larger meal — I’ll get over that, but CrazyKat, we have a date, okay? That, and Lobster Rumble,  girlie. The restaurant itself is stunning and sumptuous. It requires you to get a bit dressed up (but I imagine breakfast is more casual than dinner, and also you don’t have to make a reservation then). I sat my fat ass down on a velvet tuffet as the most beautiful pancake ever was set before my beady little eyes.  Oh, and do you know dollies, it was just as delicious as it looked. I loved the added touches of the cream quenelle dusted in lime zest.

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  • Exhibit B: The pancakes at Chez Ma Tante were completely the opposite. The didn’t win the pancake beauty contest like the one at Le Coucou, as they were much more rustic looking, but ooooooooh. And oooooooooooh. Okay so these had the most incredible texture for a pancake that I have yet to encounter (and yes, I did try the ones at Cinton Street Baking Company… good, but meh in comparison). These were crunchy on the outsides, fluffy on the inside, with the faintest hint of lemon, covered in maple syrup and a healthy pat of buttah (it’s good for the skin dont’cha know). And it happened to be just DEVINE. Yep, totally freaking swoon-worthy. Okay, so I should mention that technically these are in Williamsburg, not NYC, but go. Gooooooooooooo!

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Seeing an artist at work. As you know I love street art. I happened to be in Williamsburg while the Moniker Art Fair was in progress (which I went to). In conjunction with the fair, a very famous street artist known as D*Face was finishing up a piece, and I happened to see him action, which was very special for me.

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Speaking of art, another highlight of my trip was taking part in an exhibit by Candy Chang. I am a huge fan of hers, I have been ever since I saw her Ted Talk. I always wanted to write on one of her “Before I Die” walls, but I have never encountered one in my travels thus far. This, however, was just as cool, if not cooler. The exhibit was at a lesser known NYC museum, The Rubin Museum of Art. The exhibit was called “A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful.” There were two walls. On one wall people were invited to write  one of their hopes and include it with the other contributors. On the other wall, visitors wrote their anxieties. What people wrote ran the gamut from funny to very deep and real. It struck a very personal cord with me. I loved being able to share my own and be a tiny part of this beautiful collective.

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I love knowing that somewhere in this picture, is one of my own.

Treating myself. Well, the truth is, all of my vacations are about indulgence in some way. Food, art, and sometimes (but not always) there are goodies involved. I’m not really one to collect souvenirs, but I did see something quite special at Bergdorf Goodman that I could not resist. It was a bit of an extravagance, but you only live once. I am a great believer in treating oneself to the finer things, when and if it is possible, because we are the only one we can truly count on at the end of the day.  My mom always says, “I buy myself flowers, because if I have to wait for a man to do it, I might grow a beard.” Yeah well, I bought myself the moon, and strung it along my neck. I have always wanted a pretty moon necklace. I’m a Cancer, so it’s my sign. The moon is also supposed to be a representation of feminine energy/power. Who would have guessed? Me, Caroline, that’s who.

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Valentine’s Day is about to rear its ugly face again. Please, pass me a Hallmark card. Don’t forget the envelope, that’s for the vomit, don’tcha know. I thought this year on my blog I’d do something different. I don’t want to waste space discussing my lamentable love life. Nah, old news. Instead today’s post is sort of a love letter … to myself. And why not? Rather than waiting for some guy to tell me how special I am, maybe I can just do that for myself, after all, they surely don’t know me the way I know me.

I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. It’s not that I’ve given up looking for a partner. It’s just that it’s gradually sinking in that nobody will ever fit the job description better than I will. And so, I want to treat myself with all the love and kindness that my imaginary perfect boyfriend would. Gloria Steinem hit the nail on the head when she said, “Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry.” Is it sad, or is it awesome, that I have more of the qualities I look for in a man inside of me than the men I encounter?

I want to take the time to care about how I feel and do nice little things for myself to make life more beautiful. Should a wonderful man cross my path, well that would be excellent. He could be the cherry on the cake that I baked myself. And should he not come around, well that cake will be damned fine without him. Well that’s what I’m going for anyways.

If I had a partner, I’d love to sit and listen to all the reasons why he loves me. The ego wants what it wants, eh? Who doesn’t like hearing about how awesome they are? Today I write about what I love most about myself, and I kind of recommend you do the same, partner or not. Our partners can be clueless when it comes to knowing how to meet our needs at times. And furthermore, it’s not fair to them to expect them to be mind-readers. Even the best girl/guy won’t be able to accommodate 100% of what we wish from them 100% of the time, so some of that needs to come from ourselves. We all have bad days. They will too. And when we stop giving them the power to effect our mood (easier said than done, for sure), it can be very liberating. I think maybe meeting my own needs isn’t the worst idea I’ve come up with.

Reasons why I love me:

My resilient heart: despite having had my heart broken, time after time, I heal. I heal like a mutha fucka… and I manage to do it without bitterness. I still believe in love, and I will never give up. I leave my heart open to possibilities.

My ability to see the good in people: Some will say it’s naievity, I say it’s anything but. We all have good and bad, we all have beauty. What we find in others is actually a reflection of ourselves, not the person we are observing. I choose to see the good. That’s the way I like my world to be.

My stillness: I like that I am quiet. I like that I can be comfortable not showing off or screaming for attention. I like my soft voice. I think there is beauty in restraint, a peacefulness and an elegance.

My smile: I do have an awesome smile… for real. You would be jealous.

My appreciation for beauty: I love the way my beady little eyes seek out beauty. I think I have an amazing aesthetic. I am able to enjoy all sorts of art from street art to the old masters. I find beauty everywhere I go, and quite frankly, being able to do that makes me feel very wealthy indeed. Maybe it’s because I can appreciate the finer things as well as the simple ones, without the need for ownership. I consider that a very great blessing.

Happy Valentine’s Day to myself, my best girl, my ride or die. I love you.

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I thought this beauty by New Orleans artist Becky Fos was particularly gorgeous.

The first time I saw Birdy in three months, he picked me up at my house. We went to Starbucks and we talked. It felt so good to see him again. I had butterflies. Huge butterflies. I was excited, but also nervous as fuck. We talked about a lot of things, one of which was the cross country motorcycle ride he planned to take. The trip was to last about a month, and this would be the last I’d see of him before he returned. I was excited for him. He’d talked about doing this for some time, and it was finally happening. Although, I was quite cognizant that we wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to rekindle our relationship, I was totally fine with that. I was just so happy that we were talking again. Let everything just “be” and happen in its own time. Maybe it would give him time to miss me, I thought. You can imagine my surprise when he invited me to meet him the following week in New Orleans. Surprise was an understatement. Was he serious? Turns out he was. Hell yeah, I wasn’t going to miss visiting one of my favorite cities with the man I knew I’d never be able to get out of my head. I was on top of the world when we parted that night.

Fast forward to about a week later, and there I was in New Orleans. Saturday I had most of the day to myself as Birdy would not be arriving till the evening. I spent the day walking around Magazine Street visiting some of my favorite shops, browsing through Century Girl, some great art galleries, and enjoying the most divinely delicious lunch at Shaya.

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Hummus with lamb ragu and a hot pillowy pita that would ruin me for all pitas past and future. Damn, that meal was sublime!

I tired myself out. I did tons of walking that day. I clocked over 37,000 steps on my FitBit (that’s almost 16 miles – my record). I went to my room to change and not long after, Birdy arrived. Shenanigans ensued *cough.*

The following day we spent a lot of time walking around the city. I will admit, there were a few tense moments early in the day. I wasn’t getting the best vibe from Birdy. There were times where he gave off something that made me feel tense and on the defensive. I don’t think it was me, I think he had gotten upset by a text conversation he was having with his sister. As the day wore on though, things improved. He relaxed, and as a result, so did I. We ended up having the most wonderful evening. We had such a lovely dinner at the historic Hotel Monteleone in a beautiful restaurant called Criollo. Dinner was delicious. We laughed, we smiled at each other, at one point we even held hands across the table. It felt so good. I was smiling so much I felt like I could light up the room.

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I also learned the joy that is chargrilled oysters … dreamy!

Following dinner we took a walk to Frenchmen Street. There was something about that walk that was particularly romantic. The normally bustling streets of New Orleans were practically empty. The air was filled with the scent of flowers (Nola is so awesome like that, full of big trees, rich in blooms and scents). It was my first time visiting Frenchmen Street, and I was so happy to be experiencing it with Birdy by my side. There was all this great live music, and everyone seemed to be having such a good time. I was in heaven.

In the morning, after breakfast, it was time for Birdy to continue his adventure. We kissed goodbye. Birdy went on his way, and I went on mine. I hung around and enjoyed New Orleans on my own for a few hours. Our little weekend had come to a close. All was well.

So what’s going on with Birdy and I? Well in all honesty, I don’t know. I realized very recently that it’s best that I don’t analyze it (much). I just need to let whatever this is transpire and enjoy it’s unfolding. I have this terrible habit when it comes to Birdy. It comes from a place of fear, not of love. I recognize this. Because I want “us” so much, I have tried to steer things in certain directions, only to have my efforts backfire in the most catastrophic way. I absolutely must let go of trying to control the outcome. There is no other way. I want to learn to focus on the pleasure of our special times together. I loved visiting New Orleans with him, but I also love our simpler moments, like lying in bed watching “Unsolved Mysteries” together. The big things are great, but in the end it’s always the little ones that matter most. It’s always the simple memories that trigger the tenderest of my feelings. The one I’ll remember most from this trip is looking over at him, while he was sleeping. There was something I saw that was so warm and innocent, like a little boy. For the briefest moment, the armor had slipped, and I was reminded why it was that I have never been able to give up on him.

To be continued…

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Slightly ominous, no?

Rather than discussing all about what I got up to in NYC and recount everything I stuffed into my belly (I’ve done that before), I thought I’d write about a very cool excursion I made into Bushwick (Brooklyn). It ain’t Manhattan, that’s for sure. But what it is, is a street art hotspot. I booked a tour, and I was super excited to see what artists I would find there. It was so worth the trek! I also learned quite a bit in the process. And yeah, there was a little somethin’ for da belly too … you know how I roll.

Here’s an interesting fact I learned: did you know that street art all started because a guy was trying to get a girl’s attention? He went by Cornbread (though his real name was Darryl McCray). Sometime in the 60’s he started “tagging” the words “Cornbread loves Cynthia” all over Philadelphia. This started a trend that would spread far and wide. Others followed his example, and by the 70s, graffiti became a big deal in New York. By the 80s, it was a global phenomenon (not to mention a public nuisance). And yeah, Cornbread did win the heart of his beloved Cynthia. Graffiti was born.
In my eyes, street art is just as high an art as anything you would find at the Louvre. To prove it, I give you Exhibit A.
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It’s so fantastic, I almost die looking at it.
I went a couple hours early to scope the place out. I’m so glad I did, because otherwise I would not have seen what is undoubtedly the most beautiful piece of street art that I have ever personally encountered. It is a mash up of Rafael’s Madonna dell Granduca and Kieth Haring’s Radiant Baby. While Rafael did his work on a canvas with oils and paint brushes, Owen Dippie created a work on a much grander scale using spray cans. In my opinion, “stunning” doesn’t even come close to describing the results. So I ask you, who has the greater skill? The renaissance master painter, or the street artist? Food for thought my lovelies.
Nothing I saw wowed me in this same way, but I did get so see plenty of other cool pieces, including a couple by my beloved Invader…
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Isn’t this the coolest? I love this Joey Ramone invader!
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… but there was plenty of other stuff too. Eye candy galore! Mostly the tour concentrated on what is called the “Bushwick Collective.” This is basically sanctioned street art, where the neighborhood business owners allow the artists to beautify the space, simply for art’s sake. There is no money exchanging hands. In return, Bushwick gets to look freaking awesome. I love that. Some really famous street artists from far and wide have come to help decorate the space.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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D*Face, from the UK

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The notorious Vandal Gummy Bear by Whisbie.

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A mural of my best girl, my beloved Frida.
I took loads of pictures, but I think you are ready to eat. Non, mon amours? I think if there is one special place to eat in Bushwick, it’s the legendary Roberta’s. In fact, Bushwick and Roberta’s are quite synonymous. This uber hipster hangout is not just a place for guys with pretty beards and well manicured mustachios! Oh no! This place makes some fine and  fatty pizzas. Moi had the “white guy pizza” (though I have to say, I think I am partial to Cubans *wink*).

No my dears, I’m not going to waste my time convincing you. A picture will tell you all you need to know.

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Yeah, that hunting in the Bush(wick) is no easy task, but someone’s got to do it *burp.*

Things are going well, very well indeed. As I sit and drink my Mariage Freres Earl Grey Imperial from Paris and plan world domination, I pause to reflect on my many blessings. Life has been pretty swell. Below are five things that are causing me great amusement at the moment. Plus I have a little secret… but I’m keeping that to myself for now.
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1. As this post is published, I will be making my way to NYC. I have some super fun things planned. I’m going on two art tours which I’m totally excited about. One is a street art tour in Brooklyn. The second is going to be a cheeky fun tour at the MET called Nasty Women of the Metropolitan Museum. I’ve also got my yearly haircut booked at a fancy AF salon. I do love a little pampering. Of course there is going to be some exquisite eats for my belly, and hopefully a few little souvenirs to take home. I feel strongly that the best thing to bring home are simply my memories though. I’m a strong believer in collecting moments, not things. Things get lost, taken, or can get destroyed, but your experiences? Those are gold my lovelies.
 2. I finally got to eat a burger at Le Tub.
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I remember first hearing about this place on the Oprah show. It’s been called one of the best burgers in America. OMG you guys that burger is a Martha Falking monster. It’s 13oz of sirloin. That’s almost a pound!! It was mighty and delicious. The place itself is tres charmant! It’s an outdoor shack with a sort of tiki hipster vibe, decorated with old bathtubs and toilets. This old 1975 gas station turned burger joint is trailer park chic at at its finest. It overlooks the water, and as you eat little birds fly in to try and partake of the meaty shenanigans. I can’t blame them, who can resist the heady perfume of flame grilled beef, am I right?
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My dear friend Curly and I scarfed down our burgers and the ultra hot and delicious steak cut fries, but best burger ever? No. We give it a very solid and satisfying 8.5/10. Its surely one of Florida’s finest, but for me, the Emperor Burger at Charm City still rules the roost. It’s somewhere I’d absolutely go back to… in a heart beat. And yeah, I totally ate the whole thing. Caroline is the boss dollies. I can chow down with the big boys (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it sure is fun).

 

3. I have some pretty exciting news. When I come back from NYC I will be interviewing for an internal post at my company. It would mean a raise, a promotion, and more desirable work hours. I am thrilled to be considered. While there are other people applying, some more senior than myself, I’m going to think good thoughts and trust that the Universe has my back. I want this, I really do! I am going to fill myself with happy thoughts and just go with the flow. I open myself to the wondrous possibilities. Send me your good vibes dollies!

4. I started some IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments to deal with some sun spots I started to get on my face — much to my dismay. This seems to be hereditary for the women on my mom’s side of the family. We are all fair skinned. I had the first treatment last week, and I’m extremely pleased with my results. I got a great deal on Groupon for three treatments. I may dedicate a post solely to the experience once it’s all done. I am looking forward to the final result. Treatment two will be one week from now. I’m looking forward to it.

5. My head is in a good place. That is big. I continually try to uplift myself. I’m so serious about raising my energy, it’s almost like a side job because it requires some serious energy. Learning to be happy, however,  pays much greater dividends than any career. I read good books (recently I read  “Spirit Junkie” by Gabrielle Bernstein) and I listen to motivational stuff and fun music when I take my walks. What else? Well, pretty much whatever the fuck makes me happy. It’s just that simple, but don’t be fooled, it is not without effort. One thing I learned on my life’s journey is that happiness isn’t something that just happens. We generate it. Unfortunately we aren’t taught how to flex this happiness muscle as children in school. We are taught to get good grades, to be well behaved, and to be productive. All of that is useless without joy. I am learning every day how to generate joy. Some days are more successful than others. My personal happiness is something selfish and self indulgent, but it is quite necessary. It’s the best thing I ever gave myself. It is fun, it is beautiful, and quite frankly, it is Devine.

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I don’t remember if I mentioned it on my blog, but I keep a gratitude journal. It’s not a journal per se, it’s an app. Every day I try to write at least three things I’m thankful for. On a good day, I can have loads of entries. On a bad day, it can be hard to think of even one. Why do I keep a gratitude journal? Well, I once read that if you do something for 28 days it becomes a habit. I wanted to make it a habit to see the good in life. We are so trained to detail all the negative aspects of our day while taking the good things for granted. I don’t want to do that. I wanted to train my brain to do the opposite. I’ve been doing this more than 28 days, I think it’s closer to a year now, and I know that this practice has helped me greatly. I’d recommend this to anyone and everyone.

I think my gratitude journal really sums up my experience in Paris, so I thought I would share my entries with you.

Day 1

  • The Universe most definitely has my back. I am so blessed to have such an amazing friend to share this adventure with.
  • Our apartment is completely lovely. Crazy Kat and I are staying in such a perfect location in Saint-Germain-des-Prés , my favorite part of Paris. We each have our own bathroom, and a tiny little kitchen that has everything we need. I love the details: the little cubby holes, the little Hobbit door on the ground floor near the entryway, the wood beamed ceilings, and the little pillow on the couch with the gentleman wolf smoking a cigarette (note: we later found the pillow at a store, and each took one home a souvenir).

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  • We had a delicious dinner at a place that has always been on my radar, but I had completely forgotten about: Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. They only serve one dinner item, steak frites, and they do it so right. I love the secret sauce!
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Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, steak frites. Photo is from the website. In my pictures, the special sauce was terribly unphotogenic, but this picture does it justice, so voilà.

Day 2

  • Waking up in Paris on my birthday. How lucky am I?
  • Pierre Herme‘s Ispahan croissants. This is what I want to be the last thing I eat before I die. They are that amazing, truly unsurpassed.

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Breakfast is served. Are you feeling the love???
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The money shot.

  • My mother called to wish me a happy birthday.
  • I found a few space invaders.
  • I had my birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant in the world: Benoit. This was truly special for me. There was a time when I thought I’d never get to go again, well here I am, and it was truly as fabulous as I remembered.
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As you look at this pictures, imagine angels singing. That is how glorious this meal was.
  • Walking through the Maris after dinner and stumbling into a gay pride celebration. There was so much good energy. You could feel it.

Day 3

  • Starting my day off with another Ispahan Croissant … okay, two croissants. I’m on vacation so whatevaaaa.
  • Browsing Le Bon Marche and its adjacent foodie super store, La Grande Epicerie
  • The Palais Garnier, the stunning opera house in the center of Paris. It has always been a dream of mine to see a performance there. Today I saw La Cenerentola, an Italian version of Cinderella. It was certainly the most fun and cheeky opera I’ve been to thus far. The music was great, thoroughly entertaining.

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  • Grom gelato and their otherworldly whipped cream.

Day 4

  • Today I was the first customer to walk inside the sliding glass doors of Pierre Herme for my croissants. It’s true love.
  • Buly – an amazing little shop selling beautiful bath and body products and little treats for the home. The store itself is so beautiful, it’s like going back in time — an absolute gem with loads of special treats.

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  • Eating the same chocolates Marie Antoinette ate at Debauve & Gallais, the oldest chocolate shop in Paris.

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  • Tonight Crazy Kat and I had another wonderful meal. This time it was at Cafe Constant. I had the beef stew, which was so tender you could cut the meat with a spoon … and then there were the profiteroles …

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Day 5

  • Breakfast at Angelina and their infamous hot chocolate. There is nothing else like it. It is so thick and rich, but surprisingly not overly sweet. It is like drinking melted chocolate bars.
  • Tracking down more space invaders and catching Invader’s “Hello My Name Is” exhibit at the Musee en Herbe.

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  • Dinner at Laduree on the Champs Elyesee. Nobody does omelettes like the French. It was pure perfection, and the restaurant itself is like sitting in an old fashioned jewelry box.

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  • Seeing the Eiffel Tower glitter. Magic. Pure magic.

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Day 6

  • Scarfing down Ispahan croissants like a boss!
  • Finding some very cool space invader pieces. This one is my favorite of the trip:

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  • Sitting at a cafe at the Place de Vosges waiting for the rain to subside.
  • The famous falafel at L’As du Fallafel.

Day 7

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Le Parc by Gustav Klimt
  • The anticipation of seeing Birdy again when he offered to pick me up from MIA.
  • Having an awesome friend to share this special time with.

Thank you so much Crazy Kat, for everything. You are the best! I had the most wonderful time in Paris. I will never forget it.

Yeah, so you see, the Universe does have my back. For more pictures of this trip, please visit my Instagram page, and do follow me if you are so inclined. 

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In all honesty my Washington DC trip didn’t get off to the greatest start. I misread my flight time, and my hotel reservation got completely messed up — they overbooked and put me in a place that I really didn’t like at all — a place that reminded me of an old age home. I was not amused, not even a teeny.  This unfortunate error had a very fortunate result, however. After my little hissy fit on their customer service line, Hotels.com put me up at the Fairmont Hotel in Georgetown. I have always wanted to stay at a Fairmont hotel, but these days it is not in my price range. It’s basically a $500 a night hotel that I got to stay at at my original hotel’s rate (which is about a third of the cost). Can I just tell you, the Fairmont is gooooood. Totally plush, big rooms, amazing shower, awesome toiletries — I loved the Le Labo 31 rose scented goodies. (As an aside, don’t you think fab toiletries make traveling so much more fun?!?! It should be absolutely de rigueur.) I didn’t get to my room till 2am, and I was cranky, but I was cranky in a very luxurious bathrobe and I have to say, I did smell pretty awesome. I slathered that rosey goodness all over my disgruntled self, and it did work a bit of magic. In the morning, it felt so nice to wake up in that gorgeous bed. I felt like a queen. I did good. 

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As I was staying in Georgetown, I spent that first day exploring the area. Georgetown is basically a really sweet place for shopping.  Very picturesque. There are lots of cute little stores, darling homes, and food treats. Imagine my surprise to even come across a Dean & Deluca there. I didn’t really buy anything. I just enjoyed strolling around, putting an occasional souvenir in my belly, and photographing some pretty blooms. After the previous night I wasn’t really in the mood for anything else. Moi was tired.

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I think it could be fun living in one of these, don’t you?

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Baklava donut… eat one.

Now I should probably mention that I abhor politics and am not very interested in American history. I certainly didn’t visit D.C. to see that geriatric Cheeto who has become our president *quelle horreur*! So why did I chose to go? Well, it is our nation’s capitol, but more than that, there are actually two reasons: Cherry Blossom Festival and the Smithsonian. I did see many beautiful and robust cherry blossom trees, but I gather that they are usually much more abundant than they were this year. There was a big cold snap that killed off a lot of the blooms. This didn’t really dampen anything for me though. I wouldn’t have known that though if I was not told. I also had no previous experiences to  compare it to.  As an added bonus, I also got to see fireworks display marking the end of the season. That was fun. I do adore fireworks.

Yeah, I was there for the cherry blossoms and to see some art. There was an exhibit I really wanted to go to: Yoyoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors. I am totally fascinated by her and her work. I witnessed one of her pieces in Arizona and I was kind of blown away. Unfortunately, I was not able to score tickets. It is not that it was expensive, it was free actually. It’s just that it was sort of a lottery. If you couldn’t get online tickets (which I couldn’t) you had to wait on a line. I got there a half hour before the exhibit opened and the line was batshit. I asked the woman at the front how long she had been there. Her reply? 5 AM! WTF?!? You would think it was the second coming of Jesus. No, sorry. That’s just dumb.

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It may not look like much, but standing in one of those rooms is an amazing experience. The rooms feel like they have no end and no beginning, and the lights give it a very ethereal quality. I know the exhibition is going somewhere else after DC, perhaps I will make a trip. Kusama’s infinity rooms are so unique and otherworldly.

I did however, get to see her Pumpkin sculpture which was sitting outside the museum. Not as impressive, but still kind of cool in it’s own right.

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Another cool sculpture I found was a Robert India piece. I seem to be collecting photos of these wherever I go. I have two from NY, one from AZ,  and one from New Orleans. I know somewhere there is one in Miami. Got to add that one to my collection.

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I saw loads of art, not to mention Julia Child’s kitchen! The best thing I saw, however was this piece by Wayne Thiebaud, one of my favorite artists, featuring one of my very favorite subjects: cake. When I got my first computer, many years ago, this was the wallpaper. Seeing it in person was very special for me. How delicious it was to see it in it’s full sized glory with it’s deeply rich texture.

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A closer look. Are you feeling this or what?

Speaking of delicious, let’s talk food, shall we? I ate at a couple of really nice places while in D.C., but I won’t bore you with all the details. There was one standout, and it was truly one of the most savory delicious things I ever put in my mouth. That, my dears, was the positively succulent, melt-in-the-mouth lamb ribs at a place called Tail Up Goat. Oh. My. God. Total and complete mouthgasm. I am not sure how to describe this for you. The meat was meltingly tender and savory, but it is also accompanied by touches of sweet fig and the brightness of yogurt and grilled lemon. Want to go to DC? Go for this:

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My honest impression of DC. I liked it, and I’m glad I went, but now that I’ve been there, it’s out of my system, and I don’t feel that I’ll have the urge to revisit.  When it was time to go, I was ready to go. The place just doesn’t have the siren’s call for me in the way that New York or New Orleans does. For me it was more of a “been there, done that” sort of a place. If you go, I highly recommend going when I did, towards the end of Cherry Blossom Festival. The weather was perfection and the blooms were out. I saw great art, I stayed at a fabulous hotel. But best of all, I ate those lamb ribs. I recommend you do the same.