Day 12: Sketching at the Frick Collection Museum

Day 12 - Frick Sketching 1100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Mostly things to do in New York: big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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Day 12:  Sketching at the Frick Collection

Ok, I’m not exactly an “ar-teest” but I like to draw. I’m definitely not one of those people you stand behind to watch a masterpiece unfold. Oh, no, no, no. If anything, you may stand behind me and wonder why I bother. But, like I said, I like to draw. And “decadence” is all about indulging in the things that give us true pleasure!

As a kid, I enjoyed sketching but never seem to have enough time as an adult. So when I discovered the Sunday Sketch event at the Frick Collection, my creative side begged me (beggggggggged me!) to attend.

The Frick Collection, a stunning private-home-turned-museum on 70th Street just east of Central Park, is home to some of the world’s premier examples of Old Master paintings, European sculpture, and decorative arts. In the center courtyard, a babbling fountain and reflection pool provide the perfect atmosphere for serenity…and sketching.

Fellow sketchers lined up for materials which, I’m happy to report, are provided free of charge (including paper, lap boards, pencils, charcoal pencils, erasers, and even chairs!). I hear all the starving artists applauding now. Helpful instructors float around the large atrium to offer instruction as needed, but mostly, it’s all just about you and your blank canvas. So, there I sat, inspired by all the masterful works hung on the walls around me. We’re all here together. Beginners and masters, past and present, all simply indulging in our desire to create. Rather magical!

Day 12 - Frick 5Before or after a foray into your creative mind, be sure to make time to explore the museum’s many rooms. Sadly,  no photos are allowed. So if your “creative self” is a photographer? Your outta luck.

Day 12 - Frick 4Ok, I snuck this photo of the grand staircase so you, my darling readers, could see it! It’s rather blurry because, as I was positioning my camera, one of the many eagle-eyed security guards caught me. Oops!!

Day 12 - Frick 2Photos of the grounds are allowed, thankfully.

Day 12 - Frick 3

The Frick Collection

1 East 70th Street (between Madison and 5th Aves)

New York, NY 10021

Tel: 212-288-0700

Helpful Hint: Sundays between 11am-1pm, as the “pay as you like” entrance fee is in effect, rather than the normal $20 ticket price.

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    Days 10 and 11: Rooftops and Cafes

    Day 10 - Patroon rooftop100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Mostly things to do in New York: big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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    Day 10: Rooftop Rose with a Dear Friend

    A simple pleasure? Yes. As some moments of decadence are. There we sat, sipping cold rosé on a hot summer evening, chatting about everything that matters. No rush. Nowhere to be. We were present. Which, I realized, is a rare thing to be.

    Day 11 - french cafe

    Day 11:  Busy Day? French Cafe!

    Today was a Saturday which, as an interior designer, tends to be one of my busiest days of the week. I caught a friend’s improv show at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in the East Village (hysterical!!) then scampered off for a client meeting. Exhausted, I slowly walked home wondering what “decadent” thing I could possibly fit into this day. I sighed (I tend to sigh a lot. Truth.) and wondered if I should just let it go. Let it slide. Let it slip into the background while I go about my life…until I passed an adorable French cafe.

    “Why not,” I thought, “stop in for a coffee and snack?”

    So I did. I sat there, nibbling my quiche and watching the crowds wander past. I reminisced about doing the same in Paris, sometimes spending hours at a single cafe. It’s amazing how well the Parisians have perfected the art of pleasure. They savor the moment. They linger over their cafe, rushed for no one, simply enjoying the breeze, the book, the beer. Enjoy. Enjoyyyyyyyy.

    So, I did that, too. My crazy mind settled as I sat there. My chaotic thoughts calmed. My urge to check the time quieted. And I simply sat there, basking in the moment. Honestly? It was glorious.

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      Day 9: Architecture Tour of Tudor City

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 11100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Mostly things to do in New York: big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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      Day 9: Architecture Tour of Tudor City

      Who else finds “architecture stalking” decadent? Delicious afternoons when you simply grab a camera on a hunt down gorgeous details as though on an urban safari…absolutely divine!

      Today, I decided to do just that in Tudor City, the historic Midtown East neighborhood perched above 42nd Street and overlooking the United Nations building. This hidden gem was built during the jazz age, completed in the 1920′s by real estate developer Fred F. French. The concept? Turn a tenement-dominated slum, which was the state of the area through the 19th-Century, into a lovely enclave to attract middle-class New Yorkers. Apartment buildings, all with unique neo-Gothic architectural details, began sprouting up and, as a visionary should, Mr. French also installed private parks and charming storefronts.

      Tudor City via The Decadence ProjectThroughout the neighborhood, which now spans from East 40th to 43rd Streets between 1st to 2nd Aves, stunning details seem inspired by the great Gothic Cathedrals: pointed arches, quatrefoil, and pseudo-vaulted ceilings. These are combined with more classical elements, like stained glass windows, scrolling detail, and quoin architecture.

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 12

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 10Tudor City Greens still remain within the lovely enclave, consisting of two little parks that offer a lovely respite from the bustling city life.

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 9

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 1Shops line the street, including a deli, bike shop, pet store, and florist.

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 7Tudor City overpasses offer unique views of the city, including this one, looking East toward the UN Building and beyond, toward Long Island City.

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 13Is it a church? Nope! It’s an apartment building lobby! Truth!! Just one of the many charming secrets of Tudor City!

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 5Even the lighting in this neighborhood is worth paying attention to, ranging from unique lanterns to Parisian streetlamps.

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 2The contrast of old and new is captivating, with the old-world Tudor City buildings keeping watch over the modernist UN Building just across 1st Avenue.

      Tudor City via The Decadence Project 8From 1st Avenue, between 43rd and 44th Streets, there is a winding staircase leading up to Tudor City. And etched into the rounded wall, a prayer for peace. Fitting for the peaceful little haven in the middle of Manhattan streets.

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      Getting There

      From Grand Central Station, walk East on 42nd Street past 2nd Avenue. To see the winding staircase, walk down East 44th street to 1st Avenue, take a right, and you’ll find the stairs about half-a-block South.

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        Day 8: Lunch Break Massage

        Day 8 - massage100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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        Day 8:  Lunch Break Massage

        I woke up today exhausted. The sort of exhausted that makes your eyes feel cracked and your head feel pound-y. So, instead of making a mad dash for salad and eating while I work, I decided to spend lunchtime pampering myself a little (then getting my beloved salad!).

        Thanks to a quick search through Groupon, I discovered a fabulous deal for a 50 minute massage at Relax N Glow, a no-frills Midtown spa that offers quick, friendly service to your tired, achy muscles.  Within moments of laying on the table, I could feel my whole body thanking me.

        You’re welcome, achy back.

        Later in the evening, I spontaneously met a friend for a cold glass of rosé to fight off the hot and humid July day.

        Often, it’s the little things we do, the little last-minute decisions we make, that bring pleasure to a day. How did you bring pleasure to yours today?

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        Relax and Glow

        204 East 60th Street, Suite 2
        New York, NY 10022
        Tel:  (646) 398-8585

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          Day 7: Chasing Dorothy Parker to the Algonquin Hotel

          Day 7 - Algonquin Hotel100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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          Day 7: Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Hotel

          Ohhhhh, Dorothy Parker – that salty little minx – is one of my favorite poets of all time.  She was brassy, sassy, and unafraid to use her sharp wit to convey her thoughts, especially in the company of her tight literary circle of pals known as the Algonquin Round Table. Meeting daily for lunch at the iconic Algonquin Hotel near Grand Central Station, they sipped cocktails and unleashed the brilliant one-liners that eventually made their group famous.

          Lucky for us, the hotel – originally opened in 1902 – still stands. And not only does it stand, it’s simply fabulous!

          Day 7 - algonquin-hotelI decided that for today’s Day of Decadence, I wanted to chase Dorothy Parker to her favorite haunt, grabbing her collection of poems and settling into a cozy (omg, sooooooo cozy) armchair to read. And sip: a gin basil martini was quite appropriate – no, necessary! – to complete the experience. Because, as Dearest Dorothy proclaimed:

          “I like to have a martini,

          Two at the very most.

          After three I’m under the table,

          After four, I’m under my host.”

          Day 7 - martiniFor the record: I only had ONE. Anyway, the vintage-luxury atmosphere of the Algonquin is absolutely delicious. The plush seating, elegant lighting, and jazz music playing softly in the background truly transported me back in time. I lost myself in Dorothy’s whimsical words, wondering if some of them were uttered in the very room in which I sat.

          Probably.

          Which made the experience magical.

          Algonquin1

          The Algonquin Hotel, Times Square

          59 West 44th Street

          New York, NY  10036

          Tel: (212) 840-6800

          Website:  www.algonquinhotel.com

          Day 7 - quote

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            Days 4, 5, and 6: Decadently Simple Pleasures

            Day 6 - boathouse100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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            Day 4: Rooftop Cocktails

            Saturday is usually my “cleaning day” (elegant, no?) but after scrubbing and bleaching every inch of this little studio apartment, my poor nails needed a little TLC. Off I went to the nail salon on the corner – $28 for a mani/pedi! – to pamper myself a little before meeting friends at Rare View Rooftop bar for sunset cocktails. I highly recommend the cucumber lemon martini!

            Day 4

            Day 5: National Ice Cream Day

            It’s no secret I’m a total ice cream addict. If it’s nearby, I will shamelessly get a scoop (or, um, two!) but when National Ice Cream Day rolls around, it’s officially game time. This year, my friend James and I decided to taste-test FOUR of Manhattan’s best ice cream shops. Oh yes, yes, YES we did!

            Chinatown Ice Cream Factory:  lychee ice cream (refreshing, unique, and absolutely delicious)

            Ferrara Bakery & Cafe:  blackberry gelato (I was sooooo tempted to opt for one of their famous cannoli’s, but I stayed the course and got their also-famous gelato. Creamy, berry goodness. Mmmmmm!!)

            Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream:  vanilla bourbon (literally my favorite taste sensation EVER. Nothing compares to to the rich flavor of bourbon combined with the childlike simplicity of a well-made vanilla)

            Il Laboratorio del Gelato: here, I tasted quite a few unique flavors before settling on something “safe” – fresh mint. A few of the eyebrow raising options included fig-turkey, butternut squash, and cheddar cheese gelato. Let’s just say, it’s an interesting ride on the flavor train.

            Day 5 - ice cream

            Day 6: Boathouse and St. Patrick’s Cathedral

            Simple pleasures today, catching up with an old friend at the Central Park Boathouse then a slow stroll home, stopping by St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue to light a candle and say a prayer.

            Day 6 - boathouse and st patricks

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              Day 3: Classical Concert in Bryant Park

              Day 3 - Piano in Bryant Park100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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              Day 3: Classical Concert in Bryant Park

              Today was about simple pleasures. It was a stupendously sunny day in New York – near-perfect weather in mid-July! Unheard of. It would have been a sin to stay indoors today (notice my halo? no sinning here!) so it was a perfect day for Bryant Park. Lucky for me (and every other person strolling New York), Bryant Park offers free classical piano concerts on Fridays at 12:30pm so I got myself an ice-cold mint lemonade, a seat in the shade, and an earful of magic.

              Afterward, since it’s right there, I decided to pay a quick visit to the New York Public Library. Unfortunately, the iconic Rose Main Reading Room is closed until Fall, but that didn’t stop me from feasting my eyes on all the lovely classical architecture – or from trying to sweet talk my way into the Pforzheimer Collection. This a tiny room on the 3rd Floor is dedicated to over 25,000 books, letters, and manuscripts written by Shelley and other English Romantics of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Feeling romantic? No poetry for you! I learned the hard way that only “researchers” are allowed inside. I, apparently, do not resemble a researcher. Next time, I’ll bring my hipster glasses and sensible shoes.

              Entrance fail.

              But 100 Days of Decadence success!

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                Day 2: 100 Days of Decadence

                Day 2 - Picnic100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

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                Day 2: Picnic at Belvedere Castle

                When I woke up this morning, I had no idea what I wanted to do (aside from the obvious bits like gym, work, walk dog, do dishes, yada, yada, yada). But what would make today special? What would my decadent experience be? I decided to target lunchtime, heading out to explore Belvedere Castle in Central Park! The castle was built in 1869, a wonderfully whimsical structure that beckons visitors with it’s stunning views and architectural details. Although typically teaming with tourists, the crowds move quickly. Luckily. Because I was hungry! After playing princess for a while, I decided to find a spot of grass and enjoy my little picnic lunch: wine and cheese with a side of cherries, blueberries, and cashews. Cheers, life!

                Day 2 - DoorsFull and happy, I lolled about the Park for a while longer then ventured out to the surrounding neighborhood. Many of the streets in the 70′s between Madison and 5th Avenue have jaw-dropping entrances and many a blogger (myself included) can’t resist stealing a pic or two to share. I was particularly fond of the faux palm trees!

                Day 2 - Picnic IIIIWalking down Madison Avenue, I accidentally (who am I kidding) stumbled onto iconic French macaron shop Laduree. I peeked in. NO LINE!!!! It was a sign from the Sugar Gods that I was allowed a macaron…so I did. One lovely pistachio delight. Willpower at its finest! But oh, so very decadent.

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                  Day 1: 100 Days of Decadence

                  Day 1 - Brooklyn Bridge100 Days of Decadence: Life zips by so insanely fast and sometimes we forget to savor the simple (and not so simple!) pleasures. So, for the next 100 days, I’m dedicated to experiencing something lovely each day and encouraging you, darlings, to do the same. Big things, small things, simple things, luxurious things…all the joyous things we can find! Life is short. Enjoy the moments!

                  Day 1 - Brooklyn Bridge IIDay 1: Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

                  I’ve lived in New York for roughly 3,300 days and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge exactly ONE time. Not a great track record. So, when I decided to embark on the 100 Days of Decadence endeavor, I couldn’t help kicking it off with a good, long jaunt between boroughs.

                  I sauntered (yes, I’m a New Yorker, I saunter) out of the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall subway stop and followed a little stream of people toward the bridge, blending into the mix of tourists, students, and commuters. The wooden beams clomped beneath our feet and a hint of salty breeze whipped through my hair. I walked fast. Most walked slow. But we all stopped for selfies, longing to capture ourselves in the midst of Manhattan’s magical skyline.

                  About a mile later, I arrived in Brooklyn with a single focus: ice cream.

                  Of course.

                  So, I took my scoop of butter pecan from The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and sat on the promenade, gazing across the water at my decadent city.

                  I’d say that’s quite a Day 1!!

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                    Italian Decadence: Sextantio Albergo Diffuso

                    EXH693_EXH693 Sextantio Restaurant - Dinner_AIt’s probably no surprise that I’m addicted to travel blogs. Hell, I’m addicted to travel but my current life only allows for one jaunt a year so, during the other 52 weeks, I live vicariously through globetrotting strangers. Yes, yes, I traverse the world from the comfort of my couch. Reluctantly.

                    Anyway, while indulging in this guilty pleasure, I stumbled onto Classe Touriste. Sigh and double sigh! My little travel-starved heart devoured it, zeroing in on one particularly exquisite destination: Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, a charming bed and breakfast they visited in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy. It perfectly fits my love for sexy spaces and exotic places and I simply HAD (all caps means I’m terribly thrilled!) to share it with you, darling readers (who is joining me from your couch?).

                    Prego!!

                    sextantio suiteThe tiny village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio was virtually abandoned until recently and it’s medieval structures – some dating back to the 11th-Century! – remained untouched. All that changed in 2004 when multi-millionaire investor Daniele Kihlgren began a labor of love and restoration.

                    “This has nothing to do with renovation,” Kihlgren insists. “It’s about restoration – restoring honour. I had a unique opportunity to save one of the last authentic places in Italy from the grip of cement.”

                    sextantio suitePhase 1 of the restoration project included breathing life into the charming Sextantio Albergo Diffuso. The lodging concept is actually a “diffused” hotel, which means guesthouses are scattered throughout the village, giving guests a unique experience of truly being a part of the community. Modern technology is present (don’t worry) but it’s brilliantly hidden to maintain a feeling of living the simple Italian life. Strolling through the stunning streets and taking in the same view as Romans saw centuries ago, it’s really not hard to feel a part of history’s fabric.

                    bedroom

                    bedroomsextantio suite

                    blue white

                    sextantio restaurant

                    Cave-Hotel-Sextantio-Le-Grotte-Della-Civita-04

                    Le-Grotte-Della-Civita-18-1

                    LTVS-ALBERGO-DIFFUSO-SEXTANTIO-02

                    The Medici village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio

                    Sextantio Albergo Diffuso

                    Via Principe Umberto
                    67020 Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy
                    Phone +39 0862 899112
                    Telefax +39 0862 899656
                    E-mail reservation@sextantio.it
                    VAT 01886090685

                    How to Get There:

                    Santo Stefano di Sessanio is 150 kilometres (a 1.5-hour drive) from Rome and 100 kilometres from the Adriatic coast and the city of Pescara. The best way to explore the region is by car. – via Classe Touriste
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