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The past two weeks have had its share of ups and downs. The big downer was a very ugly text conversation between Birdy and I.  Suffice it to say, it was nasty, and I doubt there will ever be any further communication between us, which is sad because I really loved him *le sigh.* Unfortunately that’s not mutual. I guess it’s his loss. I don’t know what his problem is. I’m a fucking delight. When the time is right, I’m just going to put myself back on Match.com and try dating again. Till then, I’m just going to be awesome on my own.

Despite this, life has been pretty freaking good to me lately. Here are five things which are making me mightily amused at the moment.

  1. My car. Oh my goodness, it is so fabulous having a car of my own. I’m still getting used to it. I’m a bit of a nervous driver. My car just feels so big (because I’m used to driving my mother’s tiny one). I haven’t been very adventurous… yet. I’ve just been taking myself to work and back, and there was one trip to the mall. That will change as I get more comfortable. It was a little scary for me to spend that much money (I paid in full).  My friend MJ said that the expense was the price of freedom. So right! I really think a lot more doors will be open to me as a result.
  2. My 1 year anniversary at my job came around. I feel blessed beyond measure to have the job I have. The company I work for has excellent ethics, and the people I work with make my job something that I’m happy to wake up early in the morning for. My boss is lovely. Sometimes I feel like my job is one of the best things I got going for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I have days that are utterly craptastic, but on the whole, I can honestly say that I love my job. I can’t wait to get promoted!
  3. Free stuff: I’ve been able to get some lovely free goodies lately.
  • I got a $200 gas gift card that I redeemed from credit card points I didn’t even know I had (and truthfully I don’t understand why I have them, but whatevaaaaa LOL).
  • There was also enough to get a free $15 Panera card. I’m always at Panera.
  • I got a $10 credit from Godiva  (sign up for their rewards card … so worth it). 
  • Best of all, a dear friend helped me to access some airline credit which allows me a free round trip ride to NYC. I’m going in early October. I’m doing it on the cheap, but I know it will get expensive once I get there … that’s how I roll dollies.Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 4.28.55 PM.png4. I reached my goal weight. My goal was to get to below 120 pounds. I weighed myself on Saturday and the scale registered 118.8. How freaking cool is that? I’m officially thin (kind of). I’m super pleased with myself. If I’m being completely real though, I think I look exactly the same.796adf08508c65a67477248656f6ad7b--brownie-batter-cake-batter.jpg5. Tei Shi’s “Basically”:  I love browsing YouTube and finding artists that I never heard of before. Tei Shi is kind of a gem. My favorite song of hers is called Basically. It’s a great song with an almost 80s appeal and a totally upbeat vibe. It just plain old makes makes me feel good, and isn’t that what life is all about?

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. 

I found a speaker on YouTube that I really like. Her name is Gabrielle Bernstein, and one of her videos really inspired me. In the video she mentions that it’s good to ask the Universe for signs that you are on the right path. So I did. I wanted a sign that Birdy and I are meant to be (OMG how completely lame am I?!?!).  I asked the Universe to signify this by showing me a butterfly. I got the sign several minutes later on Instagram funny enough. I wasn’t searching for butterflies. This was just in my feed. It was the tenth picture down.

The butterfly came with a message “let go or be dragged.” I am taking this as my sign that Birdy is indeed for me, but if I want him, I need to let go. I need to learn to hold with an open hand. To be present, but to let go of the need to determine the path of our relationship… to just let it be, and to have faith that the Universe (or what I call God) has my back.
I thought about it about it again several hours later. I take what I call “smoking breaks” at work. I don’t smoke, I never smoked a cigarette in my life, it’s just what I call the little 10-15 min breaks I take to get my steps in (my Fitbit has changed my life, for sure). And can you guess what I saw?!?! Yes! A real live butterfly. It was black and yellow, and it gave me the biggest smile. 
I think I am starting to manifest!

Yeah, I know some people might find my belief in Law of Attraction somewhat batshit, but I absolutely do believe in it. Don’t make me chase you down on my unicorn.

I think if life has one big lesson to teach me, it’s the art of letting go. I lost my attachment to most things. I’m not very sentimental about objects the way a lot of women are. Don’t get me wrong, I do adore designer goodies and beautiful treasures … but I know I can be okay without them, and I’m not too fussed if I loose them. Two times in my life, I have purged the majority of my possessions. The first time was when I left to England to get married, and the second time was when I returned to America as a result of my divorce. I came home with only one suitcase… and do you know what? It was okay. I didn’t really miss anything. It was actually incredibly liberating. Who would have guessed?

One aspect of letting go that I still have a lot to learn though, is when letting go has to do with people. When I love someone, I fight tooth and nail. This is what my heart knows how to do. Slowly my brain is catching up though, telling me that you don’t have to fight for love. If you are efforting (a word I learned from watching a lot of Abraham Hicks videos) so hard, something is just wrong.
So I can talk a good game, but am I putting this into practice? Let’s just say I’m a work in progress. For my birthday, I wish to gift myself with this skill (um… and cake, plenty of cake … cake in Paris). How am I going to do that? Well, I just need to immerse myself in it: books, helpful videos on YouTube, and most important — lots and lots of practice.

Okay, time to hop on to my unicorn and get my ass to Paris! Shenanigans await.

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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.

I have been fiendishly absent, I know.  Work has been kicking my ass, it’s been kinda shitty actually. At times my job is so super stressful. I think I might actually be loosing my hair as a result. Every time I brush, it just seems like so much is shedding. These days my ponytail feels painfully thin.  I now started taking hair vitamins. I persevere. My hope is that in the next several months I can apply for a promotion. While I’m certainly no corporate ladder climbing hamster, a raise sure would be lovely. Think of how many more burgers I could have and all the extra adventures I could go on!

Sometimes the stress does get to me, but I try to always stay focused on the good stuff. One cool thing was that I got to see Chris Rock perform at the HardRock. That has been on my bucket list for aaaages! I remember back in my married days, my ex-husband and I always wanted to see him together… but oh how life changes. I know I don’t have to tell you.  Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expect, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Such is the case with seeing Chris Rock. It was worth the wait, the show was freaking awesome, as was the company, and it was something I will never forget. It’s another little jewel in my treasure chest of memories. To me, a wonderful experience will always mean more to me than a new toy.

Another cool thing? In less than 3 days time I’ll be accomplishing another New Years resolution: visiting a place I’ve never been before. I’ll be off to Washington D.C. during cherry blossom season. I do hope the trees will be in bloom and that it won’t be too cold — watch this space, shenanigans (mostly that of the food orgy variety) are sure to come. I have some fun plans and some pants with an elastic waistband at the ready. Yeah, it’s gonna be good! If you have any cool D.C. recommendations, please share. I’m still working on my itinerary.

To offset all this eating I have planned in my future, I’m getting a Fitbit. I actually live an extremely sedentary lifestyle, and I want that to change. I already downloaded the Fitbit app to my iPhone, and though I’ve only had it a week, I am feeling pretty motivated by the whole thing.  I can’t wait to get my wristband thingy in the mail. Today I actually walked over 17,000 steps. I was very pleased with myself. I already conjured up this mental vision of the super slim supermodel I’m going to become. But if this weekend was anything to go by, you would be right to be somewhat dubious. I discovered a super fun restaurant in the most unlikely of places, a strip mall. The food is amazingly fresh and inventive, and very representative of what I’d consider to be Florida cuisine at it’s finest. The place is called Little Moir’s Food Shack. I loved sitting at the bar area, facing the open kitchen were I could watch all the goodies being prepared. OMG, I can’t wait to go back.

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I couldn’t pass up photographic the windows, completely covered in stickers. The place has a very unusual sort of hipstery charm.

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Fried oysters on a bed of greens

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Coconut crusted fish: this was freakishly spectacular. It wasn’t any crappy desiccated coconut either. This was made with fresh shreds of coconut meat. My belly is going to have naughty sex dreams about it.
That’s pretty much it. I do have a wonderful new development unfolding in my life right now. Although  it’s quite uncharacteristic of me, I’m going to keep it to myself for the time being. Right now it feels like a special little secret, and for now I think I’d like to keep it that way.

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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!

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Once upon a time I was in a VERY bad place. I remember being in London, wishing as I crossed the street that one of those big red busses would run me over. I remember crying in Sainsburys (a supermarket) as I walked down the isles.  All I could feel was this horrible crushing grief. I had a lot of trouble seeing past the there and now. Things were bad. I needed hope. I needed to know that life was going to get better. The only way I could figure out how to prove to myself that this would pass, was  to document it (this was before I started blogging). And so, on December 20, 2013 I started a journal. Today I wrote the last entry. I can indeed confirm that things did get better.

I remember being in middle school learning about something called The Scorched Earth Policy.  It was a tactic used in war to destroy enemy land, to kill the people, the animals, and vegetation so that it would be uninhabitable for anyone or anything left. No crops could be planted on that destroyed land; and as a result, no life could flourish. It was utter and complete decimation. That is how I can describe who and what I was at that point of my life. I was destroyed. Though there are no tall majestic trees in my forrest anymore, I can confirm that there is life. There are flowers, and the beginning of something new. What exactly is going to end up there, I have no idea, but I am hopeful that it is something good and beautiful.

When things are bad, there are days that you can not take even baby steps. Sometimes you can take one or two, and sometimes you have steps backwards. The result is that progress is so minisucle that sometimes you wonder if you made any progress at all. This is where keeping a journal can be so helpful. It feels so good to look back at who you were two years ago and have proof of how far you’ve come. Not only that, but its a great place to vent your feelings, tell your story and express yourself,  and to write letters to people that you never actually intend on sending.  What can I say, I like to document my crazy LOL. I like to glue little scraps into mine: tickets for shows I’ve been to, little business cards from restaurants I liked, and all kinds of teeny paper momentos. Today, when I finished the very last page, I felt like a proud mama, like I created a book very unique to me, a story unlike anyone elses, and I can’t wait to get started on my next one.

Journal #2  starts tomorrow as I embark on my journey to Arizona. I am so looking forward to this! I will have a three day weekend all to myself where I intend to do plenty of eating and exploring. Oh, did I mention that I passed my test? I am now a licensed adjuster. I can’t wait to get my certificate. I think I’m going to frame it.

So, out of curiosity, do you journal? Does it help you? Do you look at it every once in a while and read your old entries? Time to share with the class.

p.s. Do follow my Instagram. I hope to post some cool pics of my upcoming adventure!

 

I remember when  Dr ManWhore told me our marriage was over, among other thoughts, I was overwhelmed with a sadness that I would never travel again (and as you know that is one of my greatest passions). I had been to NYC and Miami on my own, but I wouldn’t dare go elsewhere. One: I thought I’d get lost or in some kind of trouble without him. Two: I couldn’t imagine how I’d cope alone in a place where they didn’t speak English. About 5 months later I went to Paris on my own. I had to prove to myself that I could do it, and that life goes on … and I did just that. Believe it or not I had a wonderful time. Anyway, now, whenever I travel, I can’t help but thinking of him. In my head I’m mentally giving him the finger. “A fine fuck you,” I say to him in my head, “I don’t need you to feel happiness anymore.” It’s so empowering. If you have never travelled alone, I urge you to try it at least once in your life. Of course, I was not alone this time though. Crazy Kat was the most amazing partner in crime.

And now it is time to continue with my last installment of my very excellent adventure with CK so that I can start planning the next one.

Day four started out with a delicious breakfast at Willa Jean. The cookies my not have met with my expectations (as gorgeous as they were), but I highly recommend it as a place for breakfast. I had a very naughty fried chicken and biscuit sandwich with honey, and CK had a more healthy, but no less attractive option of avocado toast. We also split a cheeky lemon and cornmeal muffin which is haunting my memories. It was sooooo good, but it it was a special for the day. I don’t think its there all the time. Hmmm… you know what? I think I may write to them and ask for the recipe. All they can say is no, right? Then maybe I can make it and share it with you.

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Okay, so as I’m writing this, I sent them an email. I’ll definitely make those for you guys if they give me the recipe. But I digress…

So one thing I really wanted to see was Marie Laveau’s tomb at the St Louis Cemetery No.1. She was a very famous (and loved) voodoo priestess, as well as a great pillar of old New Orleans. It was commonplace for people to visit her grave and draw an “X” on the walls, turn three times, and make a wish. However, now there are very strict rules about vandalism, so I don’t know if anybody does this anymore. Her tomb was once covered of loads of x’s, but since then, it was whitewashed and is now looking quite pristine. Still, people leave little gifts to pay tribute.  While I find this very curious and fascinating, and it definitely has appeal for me, I stay away from these sorts of things. It scares me a little.

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Here is a little side by side I put together. The first example is what it used to look like, the white washed version is the picture I took at the time of our visit.

Interestingly enough, out tour guide did point out an unmarked tomb where black magic is/was regularly performed. That was a little strange to see. Very curious indeed. There were bobby pins on the ground left as an offering, but our guide told us that sometimes there are more ominous things left behind, like skin and bone!

Do I believe in this stuff? I don’t know, I guess I believe in it enough to keep my distance. In New Orleans, the cemeteries play a pivotal part of the city’s culture and folklore. I am glad I got to see it. But of course, it was time to eat… again.

We snacked on sliders and donuts at one of our favorite places: District Donuts. That, my dears, is a must eat. The sliders were cute and tasty and make a great light lunch which will leave you room to fit in one of these beauties…

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Ah… sweet memories!

At this point, there was a torrential rain, and it was back to our flat.

On our final day CK arranged a fabulous private literary walking tour of the French Quarter. That was pretty special. We traced the steps of William Falkner, who made NOLA his home for about half the year. We saw the setting for the famous, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Unfortunately it’s now a souvenir shop for stupid t-shirts. We peaked inside of some of New Orleans’ most glamorous hotels, which were haunts for many famous authors. It was great.

Our last meal of the trip was the one I was most looking forward to: Shaya. Middle Eastern food is one of my favorites. I grew up on it. Dinner reservations proved impossible (remember, book early), so we ended up going for lunch. This place has won so many awards, and is often referred to as New Orleans’ best new restaurant.

We started off with a selection of meze (also known as small appetizer dishes, mostly salads). This is often my  most favorite part of a Middle Eastern meal, and it can really pack a punch because it’s hard to stop eating it. We had some fabulous hummus with tahini. There was a carrot salad which I thought was awesomeness personified. We had a tiny dish of very fresh tasting tabouleh salad, labneh, and oil with zaatar spice. All of this came with the freshly wood fired pita bread that Alon Shaya is so famous for.

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This was followed by falafel sandwiches and fries which were accompanied by a spicy dip. I thought the falafel was excellent, but not as good as the one at 1000 Figs. That one was absolutely extraordinary, truly it was the best I ever tasted.

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Poor CK couldn’t handle it though. I think she managed like 1/3 of her sandwich. Lucky I was there to help her out LOL. And thank God I made her stuff in some desert too. I don’t know what she would have done without me! Seriously though, I don’t know what I would have done without her. I haven’t travelled so extravagantly since my married days. I feel so blessed to have found such a wonderful friend — not just because I can eat all her left overs, but because I adore her.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, it started to rain again. But that’s okay, as it was time to make our way to the airport.

New Orleans was fabulous. I will most certainly be back. I hope after reading my posts, you are tempted to check it out for yourselves. I had so much fun. Upon my return home, however, I was confronted with some absolutely shocking news …