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Down in the Big Easy

This past weekend I spent a few days in New Orleans with some great family friends and my two best friends. It was seriously amazing. I’ve been to New Orleans several times in the past, but I can never get enough of the place. This time of year the weather is perfect, the crawfish are in season, and everyone is a bit too friendly.

Face PaintWe started off the weekend the right way, with drive thru daiquiris, face painting, and a parade. Who knew that New Orleans was so into St. Patrick’s day? It was a rather tame night (I needed my rest), but we tasted some delicious seafood, imbibed a few beers, and got into the N’awlins spirit.

The next day we started off late, as my friends like their sleep, and had a full southern breakfast. Dear goodness I could get used to grits topped with an egg and sprinkled with bacon. Of course our host, Glenn, wouldn’t allow us to leave the house without sampling some crawfish. Breakfast dessert? I don’t see why not! We taught Anastasia how to crack ’em open and downed a few pounds before leaving the house.Kiss at Parade

Our first parade consisted of hundreds of drunkards throwing random items at us. And then there were the lengths of men that gave out flowers with a kiss. At first I didn’t understand the concept, but then we got into it. By the end I had a full bouquet, several new garters, and even a few dollars that were slid into them. Twas quite amusing, but we were starting to get restless and decided to go into the French Quarter.

The evening began with one of the best restaurants in the city, Jacques Imo’s, with some of A’s friends. If you are ever in the area, I suggest checking it out. We were stuffed and oh-so-pleased by the time we left. That night was a mixture of people watching (what else is Bourbon Street for?), great jazz, and some late night munchies. We left the city at 3am (the latest I’ve been up in a while) and were all ready for a rest.

Stirring The PotSunday brought yet another parade. We didn’t spend much time watching as there was no need for beads, but we did devour a few too many pounds of crawfish. They had a forty pound pot going when we arrived. I’d estimate that the three of us consumed at least ten pounds (if not more). It was so spicy that I was constantly wiping my brow, yet that wasn’t enough to keep me away. I don’t know how I lived my life so long without a proper crawfish boil.

Lisa feeding crawfish

We wound up in the French Quarter yet again that night. Had a few drinks at Pat O’Brien’s, a New Orleans staple, before getting the courage to sing karaoke. Right as we stepped on stage, Kenlie walked in to support us. It was great to hang out with her all night. We hopped from one bar to the next, which isn’t tough as they are right on top of each other, and danced our faces off along the way.

With Kenlie

It was a weekend I won’t soon forget. In fact, I’m currently detoxing from all of the amazing eats I had. (It is a rule that you have to try all the delicious food while you are there!) Was great in the moment, but I need to get it out of my system and get back on track. If you haven’t been, I demand that you put it on your list. There are few US cities I would urge you to visit and New Orleans is in the top five.

Have you been to New Orleans? What would you do if you went?

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Wordless Wednesday – The Napa Edition

This weekend I took a few hours off for myself and explored a small winery in Napa. I had a fantastic time tasting the different wines and relaxing with a friend. Here are a few of the photos I snapped during my trip.

The winery was gorgeous, I was quite impressed with their architecture and aesthetic

Walking in I noticed Beyonce and her son (see The Bloggess for more information about Beyonce and a good laugh)

And then I snuck into the barrel room for a better look...

We had a lovely lunch and wine overlooking their fields (which are currently out of season)

And we saw a cute dinosaur made out of beans and other grains

Overall it was a fantastic trip. I look forward to returning sometime in the near future and going to a few more wineries.

Hope you are having a lovely week!

Vain Friday

Because no one else has had the pleasure of seeing photos from the ball I went to last week, I thought I’d share my favorite with you lovelies.

I don’t quite remember what emotion I was feeling in this picture, but I sure do love it. A friend was kind enough to do my hair and makeup (because I am inept). Somehow dressing up makes me feel so much girlier and more elegant.

A bit about the event I went to, the ball is based on Edward Gorey and his fantastic works. Everyone gets dressed up in steampunk attire and dances the night away. In fact, I took dance lessons just to prepare for the big day. There was a fantastic market at the event and I had to talk myself out of purchasing a carpet bag. Instead I’m going to make my own from a pattern I just created (we’ll see how that goes…).

When was the last time you did yourself up? How did it make you feel?

Thankful Thursday

I realize that a lot of my previous posts have been rather negative or down on my luck, but for my 100th post I’ve decided to be thankful (a week early). Here is a list of the things in my life that I’m horribly grateful for.

This week I am thankful that I was able to complete a 19 mile run with minimal training. Not my fastest run, but I also happened to run up a large hill for eight miles. It was great training for my marathon (CIM in less than three weeks, eep!) and it was great to feel like I’m ready for this race.

I’m also grateful that I was able to complete all of my work this week without becoming a complete and utter stress case.  On Monday I submitted a piece of work that my professor loved, Tuesday I welded (I weld, isn’t that somewhat impressive?) together a piece for a final project in one of my classes, and yesterday I gave a huge presentation. Although I am swamped by work I am getting things accomplished and that is a fantastic feeling.

I’m overjoyed that I will be spending the entirety of Saturday with some fantastic folks from my program being social and not remotely thinking about work. The plan is to spend the day tailgating and celebrating Stanford’s win against Cal (just so ya know, they are going to win). Hopefully we’ll have the energy to go out dancing afterward, I feel it is about time I got my groove on. (Bring on the cute boys!)

More importantly I am excited to go home and spend a week with my dogs. Oh, and my family as well. On Sunday I will be flying back to Philadelphia to spend Thanksgiving with my entire family. The best friends and I will be running a 5k on Thanksgiving day and then we’ll have a family reunion (that would be 10 people, my family is tiny). I’m looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation (with some intense Black Friday shopping) before the last few weeks of term.

What are you grateful for this week? How is everyone spending their Thanksgiving?

Ringing in the New Year

No not the typical American New Year, but the Jewish New Year. For those of you who are not familiar, last week was Rosh Hashanah and today is currently Yom Kippur. In the last week we were told to beg forgiveness from those we have wronged over the past year and today we are purging ourselves in a fast.  As the sun sets this evening I’ll have a clean slate and (hopefully) be inscribed in the book of life for the next year. Though before that happens I’d like to publicly apologize. In the words of Glinda (Wicked): I ask forgiveness, for the things I’ve done you blame me for.

On another note, did you know fasting is difficult? I had several dreams last night about accidentally eating today. Apparently food is constantly on my mind. In addition I’m not drinking today which makes life incredibly difficult. I had wanted to get many things accomplished today, but I’m afraid of becoming dehydrated. Instead I slept incredibly late and have been doing work for the past few hours. Not how I’d typically spend my Saturday or Yom Kippur, but it is necessary with all the work I have on my plate these days. Later I’ll return to services and (in seven hours) I’ll return to food.

This has been another long week. I had a large project due on Wednesday which came with a presentation. I forgot what it was like to present in front of my peers… For some reason I can happily talk in front of them in an informal setting, but when it comes to a darkened room I clam up. Not my best moment. Fortunately I was able to relax when it was over (for the night).

So I went out to a local running club to see if they had anything to offer me. Turns out their showing on Wednesday was minuscule (only 15 people). I spent my run with the “sweeper” who was still going considerably faster than I would have expected. I shouldn’t complain though, he managed to get my rear in gear and I completed 5.5 miles much faster than I expected. He was quite the interesting fella, apparently his father had lent Steve Jobs the money that was used to found Apple. Oh the people you’ll meet in Silicon Valley. I’m not sure if I’ll return to the group, but I’m trying to keep an open mind about the experience.

Now I’ve been assigned another large project and plenty of smaller tasks. It is stressful! I’m trying to keep my head up and remind myself that this is the life I wanted for myself. Although it is a lot of work, we’ve had plenty of fun interspersed throughout. Hopefully tomorrow isn’t swallowed whole by my class obligations and I can go for a long run in the morning (one can dream).

How do you ask for forgiveness? What new and exciting activities have you done this past week?