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I’m back from NYC. Somebody please remind me to stop booking holidays in the dead of winter. I freaking hate the cold! If you are going to brave the tundra,  a word of advice: $3 gloves from Target are NOT going to cut it. Why must I learn everything the hard way? Damn it!

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On day one, my first stop was to get one of my favorite NYC treats, something I’ve talked about on my blog time and time again: the divine morsel known as the chocolate chip and walnut cookie from Levain. I walked 20 min in the snow for this thing. It was worth it.

Following that, I had a browse around the Met Breuer, and I walked up and down Madison Avenue where all the luxury boutiques are. I can’t really afford to buy anything there, but I do enjoy a bit of window shopping. This penniless extravaganza culminated at Barney’s — just another in the line of many stores I went to where normal people can’t buy stuff. This is where I treated myself to a delicious robiola and truffle “pizza” and met a very unusual woman who started a random conversation with me. To say she was odd, would be an understatement. She had a giant feather in her fluffy white/blonde hair. She claimed to be Danish royalty (not like I asked LOL). For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out if she was on crack or she really was some brain addled royal–only in New York! I love it!

Day two was all about hunting Invader’s Space Invaders in downtown NYC- it’s street art of a very interactive sort. I’m sure most of you won’t be familiar with it, but it’s kind of like Pokemon Go, except these pixelated mosaics scattered through the city really do exist. When you find them, you snap a picture, and you get points. So, not to intimidate you guys, but I am the 3,169th best Invader hunter in the world according to the app. I have the frost bitten fingers to show for it.  During this trip I found a total of 10. And guess what my lovelies?!?! I just read that Invader is going to be doing an exhibit in Paris soon. I am so tempted to book a ticket. I happen to have 36 vacation hours stored away at the moment, and I desperately want to revisit what I think is one of the most amazing cities in the world, so watch this space. Adventure calls! Anyone up for it?

Aside from the above beauties (you can click on the image for a larger version), I also found some other cool street art. Here are some of my favorite pictures:

All the walking I did that day was fueled by the most gloriously ginormous wedge of French toast at the Landmarc. At $26 for tea and toast, it’s not exactly a cheap eat, but this is a Caroline must! And trust me, when it comes to food, I’ll never steer you wrong. Don’t come to NYC without putting one of these in your belly. And that leads me to my next cold weather tip: don’t be afraid to blubber up.
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So day two was spent downtown. I explored Soho a bit, snapped street art, ate some good food, and I totally wore myself out. By the end of the day I was absolutely exhausted.

Day three, however, was all about pampering myself. Really, that is the main reason I wanted to go to New York in the first place. Life had been wearing me down. I was nursing my wounds about Birdy ending things with me. Actually, I’m still sad about.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and miss his company. Instead of time making things better, it actually feels worse now. NYC was supposed to be a “pick me up.” I had my yearly hair cut, this time at Oscar Blandi — and I have to say, my stylist (her name was Ingrid) did a really awesome job.  A week later and I’m still admiring it. I had a gorgeous meal at Benoit, and then I went on to browse my favorite 5th Avenue shops: Henri Bendel and Bergdorf Goodman. I made a nuisance of myself  at the cosmetics counter and sampled all the fab new perfumes. That’s always fun for me.

The most special part of that day, however, was my visit to Tiffnay & Co. You see, there was this necklace

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And while I didn’t get breakfast at Tiffany’s, I was served some lovely green tea on a bitterly cold day. 

I planned to buy it for by birthday, but then I decided why wait? Wouldn’t it be more special to buy it at Audrey Hepburn’s Tiffany? Um … yes. It would. This necklace has a significance to me. It’s a gift from me to me. It’s a reminder that even if no one else recognizes my worth, I do. It is a reminder that I am deserving and good, no matter anyone’s opinion.  I am tired of waiting for a man to treat me well. I’m going to do it myself where and when I can. Life is too fucking short for anything else.

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Henri Rousseau’s The Dream at the MoMA. It almost made me cry.

Day four was spent in my favorite NYC museum: the MoMA, where I got to feast on eyes on the most beautiful treasures from Rousseau to Van Gogh, and there were plenty of Andy Warhols thrown in for good measure. I don’t know about you guys,  but for me, food feeds my belly and art feeds my soul. This is the kind of stuff I live for.

My final day was a quiet one. I went to my favorite NYC happy place: Murray’s bagels, and filled my belly with my quintessential NYC eat:

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This was followed by a peaceful morning at  the Strand bookstore, before making my way to the airport (where I was practically molested as I was going through security by the way).
… and that’s it dollies. There’s so much more to show you. If you want to check it out, come visit me over on Instagram. I took plenty of pictures.

Although I spent most of my time in Scottsdale, I did venture out a little. There were a few things I had pinned on Pinterest that I definitely wanted to check out in Phoenix. Foodwise I had my heart set on eating the famed Pizza Rosa at Pizzeria Bianco. Not only is the chef a James Beard Award winner, but many claim that he has created the best pizza in America. My favorite pizza will always be the NY style white pizza at at Lombardi’s in New York—not only is it ridiculously decadent, but I also associate that pizza with some wonderful memories, and memories are an ingredient that no master pizzaiolo has in his spice rack. Nevertheless, the pizza bases at Pizzeria Bianco are truly phenomenal and technically excellent; I can totally see what all the fuss is about. The Pizza Rosa is a white pizza topped with Parmiagiano-Reggiano, red onion, rosemary, and Arizona pistachios. I wouldn’t describe this pizza as decadent, but it is definitely flavorful. I really loved how you could discern every single flavor that was present. Nothing was overpowered, every ingredient got it’s chance to shine. And like I said, the crust is truly awesome. The pizza was pretty damned faultless – but what can I say, Lombardi’s will always have my heart.  Plus Lombardi’s do Italian sodas… so…

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With pizza in my belly, it was now time to see the sites. Did I mention that Arizona is hot as fuck?!?! “Dry heat,” my ass!  I felt like I was going to get heat stroke on my way to Phoenix’s art district, Roosevelt Row. It was 105 degrees, but honestly it felt I was walking on the surface of the sun (I only exaggerate a teeny).

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El Mac (aka Miles MacGregor ) is one of my favorite street artists. It was such a pleasure to see this beautiful lady all the way in burning hot Phoenix. It made my trek worth it. Roosevelt Row has lots of great street art, along with plenty of art galleries and little specialty shops. Here are a few other pictures I took:

After a bit of walking, this ice cream at Melt was definitely a necessity. I had the lavender-honey, totally fab. I think most places would shy away from the boldness of the herby/floral nature of the lavender, but I think its great that they didn’t dumb it down by making it overly sweet. Totally worth a pit stop.

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By now, I had had enough of the heat. It got too intense for me, so I made my way to the Phoenix Museum of Art. It surpassed my expectations. There were a few things there that kind of blew me away. There was this piece by  Yayoi Kusama called You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies. I’m not sure how to describe it. It was a room with a lot of mirrors. It made sort of an “infinity room.” The room was dark except for some LED lights that hung from different lengths, mimicking multi-colored fireflies. Watch this video, because photos don’t exactly capture it. The feelings evoked from me were feelings of romance, whimsy, wonder, and beauty. I couldn’t help but wish I was standing there in that room holding hands with someone I loved as the fireflies “danced” around me.  It was nothing short of magical. I could feel something stir deep in my heart.

I also loved this surrealist botanical painting by Joseph Stella called “Flowers” with it’s psychedelic colors and incredible symmetry. Total eye-catcher.

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But best of all, and most unexpected, was that I encountered a Frida Kahlo. In case I haven’t mentioned it, Frida is my soul sister. This particular work is considered to be one of her most shocking and controversial paintings. The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, tells the story of a Ziegfeld showgirl as she jumped from her luxury apartment in her favorite black dress. I felt honored to look at it, behind its glass, just as I remember looking at it as a little girl, as a photograph in a book.

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The museum was about to close, and I decided to treat myself to my one semi-fancy restaurant of my trip at Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend. Most of my life is spent on a perpetual diet. When I am on vacation, however,  there are no rules. It’s like Fight Club but with burgers. Despite being on my own, I’ve learned not to be coy about ordering a four course dinner all for moi-self (I have superpowers that you know nothing about). And that, my dears, is exactly what I did.  I had an appetizer, “bacon” and eggs on toast, a yummy bouillabaisse, and sticky toffee pudding. It was all great, but I think the star of the show was that toast.  The “bacon” was actually cured sturgeon.

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Positively joyous!
The next day I went to see the Grand Canyon. I went as part of a Pink Jeep Tour. It was a four hour drive each way with an itsy bitsy stop in Sedona where I saw the famous Bell Rock. And the canyon? What can I tell you of the canyon that hasn’t been said? It is crazy and surreal. I remember looking out at its vastness, and even though it was right in front of me, it did not look real. It felt like I was on some science fiction movie set. Here’s the thing, I know how to talk about food and art, but I don’t really have the words to describe what this was like. If you’ve not been there yourself, you won’t understand exactly how majestic this place is. All I can say is that I am so glad that I went. I almost didn’t. It’s one of those things that are on people’s bucket lists as something they want to see before they die. I understand why that is now. But, you know, ice cream is good too. Just sayin’

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I got back from Scottsdale last night. Two weeks worth of training. It was a wonderful experience, but oh, I am so glad to be home. Flying over Ft Lauderdale Airport, looking down and seeing the place I now recognize as my home … yep, it feels so good to be back in familiar territory.

My trip to Arizona had loads of firsts. Among them was my first time seeing a real live cactus, the first time traveling for work, and also the first time traveling with a group who were not my family. One thing I leaned about traveling in a group is that there are times when you have to go with the flow and be accommodating towards others (meh, so overrated). If you don’t want to come across as a total A-hole, you have to take an interest in what others want to do and be open and willing to take part. For this reason, I didn’t always have the time or the ability to do everything that I had hoped … but I didn’t do too bad either. Below is a rundown of my Scottsdale adventures:

I went to Sprinkles cupcakes where I encountered the coolest invention ever: the cupcake ATM, and I ate the most delicious cupcake of my life so far. It was their famous strawberry flavor. Superb! These cupcakes aren’t just cute, they are certifiably awesome.

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I walked around Fashion Square, a high end shopping mall. It was very pleasant, but the stores aren’t anything unique. Pretty much every store can be found in my own neck of the woods.  That’s not to say you can’t buy a ton of lovely stuff though. I also enjoyed browsing around Kierland Commons.  I did happen to drop a hefty portion of my per diem allotment on the most beautiful black dress from Anthropologie while I was there. That money is supposed to be for food … but things happen (and as you will see, I did not starve). If you need a little retail therapy, these places are great, but they are nothing you probably wouldn’t find in your own area.

I had some incredibly delicious chicken tacos at a place I didn’t expect to like at all: Restaurant Mexico. It was kind of a dated looking hole-in-the-wall sort of place, but I went along with my coworkers out of a sense of duty. I’m glad I did. The tacos weren’t much to look at, but they were so good and so fresh. I never had homemade taco shells before. They were still hot from the fryer. Tacos will never be the same.

I went on an art walk. Apparently Scottsdale is where the art walk was invented. What is an art walk? It’s when a collective of art galleries stay open late, open their doors, and sometimes dish out free nibbles. If you are intimidated by the arty farty factor, this is a great time to get your feet wet. In Scottsdale this can be experienced every Thursday evening from 7 to 9. So how was it? In all honesty, I didn’t see that much original artwork, but there were a few nice pieces. It’s in a lovely historical part of Old Scottsdale, and it’s worth going to if you are in the area, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one.

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I had my first ever visit to In-N-Out, and I went all out with the double double animal style burger (an off-the-menu item that includes a few covetable extras). It was good, but my mind wasn’t blown. I have wanted to try this burger for years, so I’m so glad I finally got this morsel into my belly, but now I can say “been there, done that.” The burger was was fun, the service was good, but I recommend skipping the fries. I also tried a burger at Rehab Burger Therapy, which is more of a gourmet burger than a fast food one. It was good, but I will forever be spoiled by beloved Emperor Burger at Charm City Burger Company. It’s going to be pretty freaking hard to top that — maybe even impossible.

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My favorite Scottsdale find was a 1950’s luncheonette/ice cream parlor called The Sugar Bowl. It’s a pink and pretty girly paradise. I could totally imagine Dita VonTeese here, having a cheeky treat. All the 50s fixtures are still intact, and the sundaes are fabulous. I decided to go with the build your own banana split. THIS was why I came to Scottsdale … I fell in love a little. This is the sort of stuff that makes me forget why I ever wanted a man. I can not recommend this place highly enough. In fact, I loved it so much that I needed to make one last visit before I left.

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By the way, in case you are wondering if I ever do anything besides eat and spend money, let me inform you that I am indeed multi-talented. Behold: a picture of the moon over Scottsdale.

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You see, I can appreciate natural beauty, but honestly… can you eat a sunset? Now this, on the other hand…

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Okay, so my fat ass needed a bit more padding for the 8 hour journey home. Don’t hate.

I also had the opportunity to do a little exploration outside of Scottsdale. I will save that for my next post. For now I’m just happy to be home. Unfortunately, I must now begin operation detox. I can barely put my jeans on. Whatevaaaa… so worth it!

I have to say, the best part about going to New Orleans was meeting Crazy Kat. I suppose I should have been a little cautious. I was meeting someone I never met in a city I’ve never been to, and I was not worried in the slightest. My instincts were totally right. I have a feeling we are going to be lifelong friends. We got on so well. She is exactly like what she appears to be online. I love her for her honesty, her bravery, and her very open and kind heart. Her husband is the luckiest man alive. It’s weird, but I really think CK and I look like sisters even though our backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Its been a couple days now since I last saw her, and I miss her already, but I have a feeling we are going to have a lot more excellent adventures together.

CK was an excellent partner on the “Fuck the Diet Tour.” CK is a total foodie, like me, but she doesn’t have the auxillary stomach space that I have (that’s okay, nobody does LOL). Did you know cows have four stomachs? They do! Let’s just say that my middle name should probably be Elsie. I am now going to run through all the amazing things I ate in New Orleans. I would hazard a guess that NOLA is probably one of the best cities for eating in America.

While I absolutely adored the beignets at Cafe du Monde, CK and I fell completely in love with the donuts at District Donuts on Magazine Street. They were the best sweets we ate on our trip (and you will see, we tried a lot). I have had some great donuts in my life, but these were undoubtedly the best. They were incredibly light with a flavor and texture that was exactly like brioche. The Donut Plant in NYC has nothing on these guys. Every day the flavors change. I would love waking up and checking them out on Instagram to see what was on the menu. All in all, we tried four varieties and a couple of sliders. Each one was excellent but my favorite was undoubtedly the strawberry basil one. I really wanted to try the pineapple upside down cake donut, but it was not available during our trip (oh well, we will just have to go back, no CK?).

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I think this strawberry basil donut is the best one I ever ate.

As I mentioned in the previous post, those beignets were my first bite of NOLA. CK had not yet arrived. She would be coming later in the evening, so I pretty much had the day to myself.  It was a beautiful day, and I decided to take a walk up Esplanade Avenue and visit the New Orleans Museum of Art (aka NOMA). It was very warm, and the sun was out. One thing that really took me by surprise about NOLA is how the residential streets are perfumed with flowers. There are giant old trees with the most fragrant blooms (so unlike Fort Lauderdale where it smells of pee and homelessness). And the architecture? Simply gorgeous. It made me long to have a front porch where I could sit on a rocking chair and sip ice tea all day.

After walking around for about an hour, I stopped in at one of the places I read about: 1000 Figs. I love Middle Eastern food, and this place got really good reviews. I tried the falafel sandwich, and it was very special. It wasn’t terribly big, but it was surely the best. Absolutely phenomenal. Better than Taim in NYC and L’As du Fallafel in Paris. They falafels themselves were spiced so expertly, and there was a great bright freshness to it that prevented the them from feeling heavy. There were some great sauces and a liberal use of mint. It is out of the way, but if you love falafel, this is worth a trek.

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And just to prove to you that things happened besides eating on this trip, here are some of my favorite pieces of art from NOMA. I call this my “Ladies of NOMA” series. OMG, I am so preposterous LOL, I love me.

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Odalisque by Charles Lenoir
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Far Away Thoughts by John William Godward
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Portrait of a Young Woman by Mogdiliani

After that I walked around the sculpture garden and City Park, which was right behind the museum. There was tons of great stuff. It was definitely worth the visit. I was hoping to get my fat ass on the antique carousel in the park, but it was closed. As an aside, that’s a weird thing about New Orleans. Things that you would expect to be open are not always open (even when there is no holiday). One restaurant in particular was closed on Saturday, Sundays, and Mondays for no real reason. It’s just how they roll over there. So my advice is, if you are planning on visiting, if there is something you really want to see, call ahead to double check opening hours.

Anyway here are some pictures I took in City Park and the sculpture garden:

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I’m not sure what this flower is, but I saw it a lot in New Orleans.
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Love sculpture by Robert Indiana, just like the one I saw in NYC, only smaller.
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Gratuitous picture of cute fluffy ducks in City Park

At this point my feet were throbbing. I had done a lot of walking. I took a street car (which are really cute little trolleys) back to the Central Business District where we were staying. OMG you guys, our little flat was the most gorgeous thing! CK does things in style! That’s when I went to Willa Jean for cookies. I saw pictures of these lovelies somewhere and I had to try them. They are things of beauty. Unfortunately I don’t think anything will ever live up to the awesomeness that is Levain.

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Warm salted chocolate chip cookies, a smidge of cookie dough, and some highly delicious vanilla infused milk.

Right next door is The Company Burger, who everyone says is the best burger in New Orleans — even Anthony Bourdain is a fan. Naturally I had to see for myself. My verdict: this burger is very nice indeed, nice and juicy with a flame grilled flavor. I certainly wouldn’t kick this lovely out of bed, but honestly, I’ve tasted better. Definitely try it if you are in the area though. It’s really good.

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All this, and I hadn’t even had dinner yet. I still had reservations for somewhere nice with CK later that evening. But you see, according to my twisted logic, I did good because I didn’t have fries LOL.

At this point I decided I had better get back to our place and wait for CK. It wasn’t long till we would finally get to meet. She had a really long journey. She was everything I expected, so incredibly lovely and easy to get along with. Although I might have had like two seconds where I felt the slightest bit of worry, she immediately put me at ease.

We had reservations at Peche. It’s buzzy and a little loud, but friendly and fun with great service. We had a delicious whole fish, which is kind of their specialty, some yummy potatoes, and a beet salad with pistachios. My favorite thing was the fried bread though. I never had anything like it. They look like munchkins from Dunkin Donuts, but they taste kind of like the pretzels you get at the mall but with more butter. I loved those. If you visit Peche, and I recommend that you do, get some! Oh, and there was a cheeky slice of key lime pie too.

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We had a lovely evening. Of course, CK had no idea that I had been eating all day. Poor woman, she didn’t know what she was in for…

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I needed a welcome distraction, something fun and frivolous. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to finally see an exhibit I’ve been wanting to see at NSU: Bellissima: Italy and High Fashion 1945-1968. There wasn’t loads of stuff there, but I just need a change of scenery, the chance to look at something  beautiful, and a reminder that I am  more than my problems. There is something to be said by surrounding yourself in beauty. I adore any chance to overwhelm my senses with loveliness. It can be so uplifting for me. In this case, it was fashion. There were some lovely pieces on show, but what really surprised me, was that even though nothing was short of 45 years old, pretty much everything on display would be totally wearable today. In fact, in my head, I even chose a few choice garments for Moi-self. Do you need a little escapism too? Focus on some of your very favorite outfits, and imagine yourself in your mind’s eye wearing them. Imagine where you would be, who (if anyone) you would be with, and what you would be doing. It’s kind of a little game I like to play. Like Barbie for grown women LOL.

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I’d like to imagine myself into that V-neck black dress in the back. You can’t really see how awesome it is in that tiny picture, but it is fab! It looks like something straight from Carrie’s closet in Sex in the City. At one point she was wearing a lot of dresses that had that sort of silhouette.  In my head, I shall imagine that I am in Paris. I am eating in an uber glam restaurant with a handsome gentleman (that I secretly am in love with, but I keep him guessing)  who can’t take his eyes off me *le sigh*. You see how this game works? You try it. Here are some more pictures…

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Aside from the actual garments, there was also some gorgeous vintage handbags, and the walls were lined with lots of Italian fashion photography. But my favorite part? I’d have to say it was the cases of heritage Bvlgari pieces. I do own a simple Bvulgari band which I have held on to back from my housewife days, but I am still lusting after a particular gobstopper

For now though, I will need to stuff my gob with other less expensive stuff. Maybe some fancy grilled cheese? Oh, I know that sounds a bit anti-climactic, but I assure you, I would not kick this guy out of bed LOL. Thrilllist actually calls it one of the best sandwiches in Miami (there is more than one Rok Brgr in Florida). True, no self respecting Italian fashionista is going to be scarfing one of these down, but I am not Italian; nor do I have much of an excuse to be a fashionista at this point in my life.  Believe it or not, nobody asked me on a fancy Parisian adventure in recent history. Crazy, right?! So if my ass is looking a little dimpled from enjoying a few fatty treats, I doubt anyone is going to be the wiser. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, this is pretty museum worthy…

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Short rib grilled cheese with fontina and caramelized onions, with a side of rings (not Bvlgari, but it will have to do).

How do you like to escape when you are feeling a little low?

 

So unemployment is getting kinda boring. Don’t get me wrong, I have some amazing days browsing the shops, immersing myself in a good book, and hanging out with Birdy when he is free; but I also have days where I feel like the grey matter that is my brain is going to slowly leak out through my nostrils in a most unbecoming manner. Having time to pursue the finer things is awesome, but having to much time is not so good. I find myself obsessing over some really dumb sh*t.

I’ve had a few interviews that I felt went really well, but nothing yet. I know I need to be patient (not a strong point of mine) and positive, but sometimes it is disheartening. I need to go back to work. I need structure, I need to feel more in control of my life, and I need to feel the independence making my own money gives me. In the meantime, I also want to maximize the joys of unemployment LOL. So today I though’t I’d tell you about the Italian concept of “Dolce Far Niente”, where lying around and just being fabulous is taken to an art form. I think there is something to be said for it. Dolce Far Niente can be translated into “sweets doing nothing,” and believe it or not, is quite a popular theme in art. Don’t believe me? Let me show you:

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This one, by one of my favorite artists, John William Waterhouse, bares a remarkable resemblance to yours truly.

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The famous Flaming June by Frederic Leighton.

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I’m sure you will recognize this one, La Grande Odalisque, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. This one couldn’t even be bothered to get dressed. Putting on the head piece was just too much.

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I’m not 100% sure, but I think this beauty is a Klimt.

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As you can see, this is not just a passing fancy of the old masters. Here is an example from 2008 by Michael Klein.
So do you believe me now? Let’s take this idea and run with it, shall we? Being a sweet doing nothing is obviously an artistic pursuit, and it is one that I think deserves a little exploration LOL. It’s not actually just about sleeping in glamorous settings, its about savoring the mundane and making it beautiful. It’s about enjoying a little nap in the middle of the day, indulging in an ice cream without worrying about your thighs, and generally just taking life at a slow and luxurious pace. And when you do it, you must do it in a way which is completely unapologetic. Make it your art!

How? Let me give you some ideas, as I am kind of an expert:

  • Savor an expensive box of chocolates that you were saving for a special occasion when you are all alone (sharing isn’t allowed).  Eat it slowly, enjoying every delicious morsel.
  • Take a luxurious bubble bath. Lock the door. Disconnect your phone.
  • Call in sick from work — that’s what sick days are really for, and spend the day doing something you love. Maybe have a spa day!
  • Read something with absolutely no literary merit like a trashy romance novel.
  • Admire yourself in the mirror.

Come on my lovelies, I know you can do it. Make your life your art! 

When I left for New York City I was feeling low. Really low. I had just been fired. When I got to the airport the next morning, my eyes were still swollen from all the tears. It was awful, but it was also perfect timing. Why? Because I can’t be sad in New York, it’s impossible for me. I don’t know any other place in the US where one can immerse themselves so deeply in art, beauty, and good food. NY is nothing short of Paradise for me.

My first day was spent browsing the Whitney (which I wasn’t terribly impressed by), but on my second day I had planned a little afternoon tea with the dear Adele. No, I had never met her before, but I knew we were going to be great friends. By the time we met, I felt like we already had a bit of history together.

But first, I got my hair done at Warren Tricomi on Madison Avenue (after stuffing a sinfully delicious Levain cookie in into my belly). I got an awesome hair cut from a guy called Anthony, and I left the salon feeling like a million dollars. I was ready for my visit with Adele at the Neue Galerie, only a few steps away.

The Neue Galerie is much more my thing than the Whitney. In fact, it’s exactly my thing. The focus is on early twentieth-century German and Austrian art. They have a lot of paintings by Gustav Klimt, one of my favorites. The painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer (aka Woman in Gold) is probably it’s most famous inhabitant. At $135 million, she is the most expensive painting ever to be purchased. Back in 2006, there was great controversy  and a lengthy legal battle surrounding her move to America. She was stolen from a wealthy Jewish family by the Germans in Nazi occupied Austria.There is an absolutely wonderful movie about this painting called Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren. It was a real tear jerker for me. Maybe it got me so deeply because not so long ago I thought I would end up moving to Vienna, or maybe  it’s because my grandmother’s grandmother was an Austrian Jew herself. She came to this country when she was already an old woman, but she was the first of our family to make the journey. While aesthetically this is not my favorite of Klimt’s paintings, the story behind it gives it great meaning and beauty to me, and so it was a great pleasure when I was finally able to meet Adele in person.

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As with any painting, the images you see in books or on the computer screen never come close to standing right in front of the real thing. You loose the sense of scale and texture. You loose the feeling of luxury conveyed by the heavy usage of gold leaf. I like Adele. She is a true woman. While her body is painted in a very two dimensional format, her expression is definitely complex. Although surrounded by opulence her face has a kind of disquiet about it. She looks unsure of herself, questioning, slightly tired … hmmm, maybe we are related LOL.

Adele was surrounded by some other beautiful examples of Klimt’s work:

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Pale Face, by Gustave Klimt –Who knows this could be one of Adele’s friends. Many of Klimt’s subjects new each other. I think I shall invite her along for tea and cake too. I like her face.
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Forester’s House – a little cottage where the artist was known to stay. I think I should like to live there, it’s tres charmant!
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Girl in the Foliage, by Gustav Klimt: this one looks like she is going to go mental if we don’t invite her for cake too… better reserve another seat at the table.
Alright, it’s tea time. Housed in the Neue Galerie is Cafe Sabarsky. I have been to Vienna twice, and I can tell you, this cafe would not be amiss there with it’s discreet and unrushed service, the dark wood paneling, and the glow of the chandelier above. Sitting there I was flooded with so many memories. Thank goodness I was armed with my fab new haircut and these beautiful ladies by my side or it would have been quite likely that I would have teared up a little. Nope, instead I focused on the tempting cakes on display. Let’s do this proper and order the Sacher Torte, shall we?

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Now to the nitty gritty, the cake! When you look at this slice of cake, or any slice of Sacher Torte for that matter, I have found that they always look a lot more chocolatey than they are. Except for the slick layer chocolate ganache on top, in the actual cake part, the prominent flavor is apricot believe it or not. There is a layer of almost invisible apricot jam in the middle of the cake that is meant to keep this very dense cake moist. The chocolate flavor pretty much all rests in that glossy coating. While it would be lovely if this cake offered an intense chocolate hit, I wasn’t disappointed, because I’ve had this cake in Austria, and I knew what to expect.  I just wanted to relive a memory … food is awesome like that. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this cake as a NYC must eat, I would most certainly recommend a visit to the bijoux beauty that is the Neue Galerie, and of course, some tea and cake at Cafe Sabarsky… just maybe a different cake LOL. I’m sure Adele would appreciate a chance to shoot the breeze. She has an amazing story to tell.

Last weekend I braved the bus to the Ft Lauderdale NSU Museum of Art again. Taking the bus is no fun, but as I still don’t have a car, sometimes it is my only choice. Living in England I had access to wonderful museums and cultural events. I hate to say it, but South Florida is kind of a cultural wasteland. So when there is something to see, I will go out of my way to see it. So yes, back to Ft Lauderdale I went, where the smell of pee and homelessness seems to pervade the air. I went to see an exhibit called The Indestructible Lee Miller. Should you like to see it, it will be running until February 14, 2016.

So who is Lee Miller? She is best known for being the muse, student, and lover of the famous photographer Man Ray. She was what you’d call a “Hitchcock blonde,” what with her icy cool beauty. Her dad used to photograph her when she was a little girl, later she was a model for Vogue magazine, and after that, she was the subject of one of the famous photographers of all time… but actually, Lee Miller was more than just pretty face. She was an artist in her own right, and something of a feminist icon.  As a photographer, her travels lead her from fashionable Paris to war-torn Germany where she photographed the atrocities of the concentration camps and the suicides of German officials… there were some gruesome photographs in that exhibit, some that I really found hard to look at. It was much worse for her though. Miler’s time in Germany left her understandably troubled. So much so, that after the war, she locked many of her photos in an attic and tried to forget them.

No, Lee Miller, was certainly not a dumb blonde. She was a courageous artist with a deeply rich life. Below are a selection of my favorite photos from the exhibit.

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Lee Miller, 1930 Man Ray, Solarized Portrait
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Lee Miller’s very famous but somewhat blurry neck, photographed by Man Ray

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In Hitler's bathtub shortly after his death, washing away the
In Hitler’s Munich bathtub shortly after his death, washing away the “grime.”
An editorial fashion photo of models wearing fire masks in London.
An editorial fashion photo of models wearing fire masks in London, 1941.
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Opera singer singing a song from “Madame Butterfly” amidst the ruins, 1945.

In all honesty, I was not unhappy to leave the museum that day. Some of the photos left me unsettled. They are photos I choose not to post, because although they are very real, they disturb me, and I don’t want to put that kind of thing on my blog. Let me just say, that I will take the smelly homeless of Ft Lauderdale over pictures of emaciated and dead prisoners of war any day. It was almost a relief to walk out of there and feel the sun on my face, and the beautiful rainbow graffiti art that drapes over the walls of the museum.

I love this cheerful piece outside of the museum. It is by an artist called Jen Stark, entitled Acid Free.
I love this cheerful piece outside of the museum. It is by an artist called Jen Stark, entitled Acid Free.

I needed a burger.

Last time I went to Rok Brgr, a few steps away from the museum, I thought my Sweet Caroline burger was delicious indeed. The fries? Not so much. Channeling the adventurous spirit of Lee Miller (yeah, all of the sudden I’m a daredevil adventurer, huh? You see how I did that?), I decided to try the truffle burger with tater tots. As you can see, I like to live on the edge. Well, as you are on the edge of your seat with wonder, I shall tell you: the tater tots were definitely better than the fries (nice and crispy, though they could be a bit more fluffy in the middle). But the burger? Juicy deliciousness. There were some excellent flavors going on: it had the beefy goodness factor, the contrast of sweet caramelized onions, and garlicky aioli… and it was drippy and messy, just like the best burgers are. Pure satisfaction. Really I don’t miss sex all that much LOL! Burgers have an edge over men, you never have to wonder why they didn’t text you back. OMG, I am so shallow, I kill me.

I think this could be hanging in a museum too.
I think this could be hanging in a museum too.

I kind of doubt that Lee Miller liked to indulge in fat ass burgers like I do. Perhaps she would disdainfully look away as my thighs slowly enlarge. What do you think? What can I say, I like my art with burgers on the side.

I have been feeling incredibly low this week. Reaaaaly low. There was not one day when I didn’t go to bed in tears. I’ve got to snap myself out of it. I would have loved to have gone out and done something fun, but such was not to be the case. Except for my weekly tradition of having breakfast with my mom at Panera, I seem to be stuck home for the weekend. I just finished watching the last of Season 3 of Orange is the New Black, which was kind of awesome. Oh who am I kidding, it was crazy good! Lorna finally found love (and if the lovely Lorna can do it from the confines of prison, perhaps there is some hope for me yet… though it doesn’t look very promising), and the final scene where all the ladies broke out of jail for a brief moment to dip in the lake, that put such a big smile on my face. I guess it shows you that there is so much happiness that we can take from the little things, if only we choose to appreciate them.

Last week I wrote about some things that I felt happy about. Today I am going to share something that I found beyond hilarious. Maybe I have an odd sense of humor, but this just kills me (in a good way).

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I hope you liked that as much as I did! What do you do to pick yourself when you are feeling a bit low? I think I’ll make myself a bubble bath and drink some diet coke while I fantasize about cookies.

P.S. Some good news: I finally bit the bullet and weighed myself since I came back from NYC. I have only gained two pounds over what I weighed before I left. How cool is that? Those two pounds were totally worth it. Maybe because I can’t go out, I shall buy myself a celebration goodie on the Internet. One can do a lot of damage with a credit card and an Internet connection dontcha know? I’ll have you know that I am a seasoned professional on such matters.

It’s funny because I got lost all over Manhattan, but what I was really worried about was getting lost somewhere in the Bronx. My navigation skills suck, and that’s putting it mildly–even with GPS. Somehow, however, I made it to and back from The New York Botanical Gardens without incident. I felt so proud of myself! The things I will do to see my dear Frida, though I have to say, Ft Lauderdale was far more yucky than the Bronx (I don’t know what I was so worried about)! The exhibition I saw was called Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life and it will be on until November of this year. The focus of the exhibit was to highlight Frida’s love of nature and it’s reflection in her art. They recreated portions of her garden in the Casa Azul in Mexico City which she shared with Diego Rivera. Below are some pictures of the exhibition… and also a little something from the Donut Plant *cough*. Well it’s called Donut “Plant,” so it is highly appropriate. Um… (Caroline looks shiftily sideways) … just shut up okay?!? Did anyone ever tell you you are far cuter when you just pretend to follow my logic? That’s how it works around here.

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Marigolds: I shall have marigolds too when I have a home.  They are simple but lovely and cheerful.
Marigolds: I shall have marigolds too when I have a home. They are simple but lovely and cheerful. Who would have known that these are native to Mexico?
My favorite piece from the exhibit: Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace
My favorite piece from the exhibit: Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace. Frida did a lot of self portraits… “I paint self portraits because I am often alone, because I am the person I know best.” Speak the gospel my soul sister! I know exactly what she means.
I adore this one too. It makes me smile. Cut open fruits in Frida's paintings are sexually symbolic by the way.
I adore this one too. It makes me smile. Cut open fruits in Frida’s paintings are sexually symbolic by the way.
A recreation of  Frida's  work space: this is where the magic happened!
A recreation of Frida’s work space: this is where the magic happened! Frida’s studio overlooked her garden, which provided her which much inspiration.
A pyramid of cacti
A pyramid of cacti

So in honor of Frida, today you will watch me partake in some of the seasonal “fruits” (of a less than botanical nature) from the NYC’s famed donut establishment, The Donut Plant. Aren’t you the lucky thing? In honor of summer, there is an exceptionally lovely lavender cake donut which I just know Frida would adore. Oooh it was good. It was slightly floral, but more herby than floral (see, we are keeping in line with the garden theme). The thin glaze was exceptional, and the product was very fresh and true to flavor. There are no cheap synthetic flavorings here, this is the real deal. Atop of that, you will see that I also ate a mini donut: a Mexican wedding cake donut. Yes, Frida is pleased. Highly delicious! And do you see what I have done my lovelies? I have recreated Frida’s Mexican pyramid in donut form. I can’t believe I’m not famous, because this sh*t is inspired!

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