19 November 2015

Pondering The Big Easy...

When my brain begins to reels from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip. - Ignatius J. Reilly

With our trip to our favorite US city ever - New Orleans - starting in less than 2 weeks I'm beyond stoked.  It's going to be here before we know it but I'm passing the time by reading my newest cookbook.  Oh lawd.  It's making me so hungry for all things Creole/Cajun/French/seafood/bready.

And Reveillon Dinners!  In French, New Orleans’ original language, the word “reveillon” means “awakening.” The Creoles, some of the city’s earliest inhabitants, celebrated the start of Christmas in the early 1800s, with a big family meal when they returned home from midnight mass.  Two o’clock in the morning may be an odd time to start a feast consisting of chicken and oyster gumbo, game pies, soups, souffles, lavish desserts, brandy and coffee, but this is how it was done back then. It was a tradition the Creoles inherited from their European cousins as a way of breaking the daylong religious fast leading up to Christmas Eve.  By the 1940s, the Reveillon tradition, which had been slowly fading out over succeeding generations, all but disappeared. However, it was revived in the 1990s – with modifications reflecting the times – and has been increasing in popularity ever since.  I haven't booked ours yet but I'm hoping our host will steer us in the right direction.  We might even just do the whole '2 in the morning' thing to be traditional.  But that's waaaaaaaay past my bedtime.  We shall see.  We shall see.

In addition to the cookbook I've also been reading Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death And Life In New Orleans.  I'm really enjoying it but there is a good deal in it that makes my heart plummet.  I'm powering on and I hope that it continues to compel me to really learn more about the places that I vacation.  I might be a visitor for a while in New Orleans but that doesn't mean I shouldn't know more about how things work for most locals.  On our last visit I was amazed with how much of the infrastructure and community were still damaged from Katrina.  This time I hope to educate myself further on the politics and people there...

Oh, and I found a list of the 108 best documentaries about New Orleans.  That should keep me occupied for a bit, eh?  I'm starting with Getting Back To Abnormal then working my way backwards as I can find them.

As you can imagine, I've got quite the list of bakeries, bars, restaurants, museums, bookstores, landmarks and outsider art locations bookmarked but I'm always up for suggestions if you have a favorite/must-see place to recommend!  We're staying in a small home in the Irish Channel area for the majority of the time as well as a night in the Treme area but we are more than willing to travel wherever and whenever.  Even outside the city?  Yep!  We're up for exploring.

If you're interested in taking a peek from our previous New Orleans adventures then go here, here, here, here & here.

09 November 2015

November Goals...

I haven't set a list of goals for myself for a while due to a variety of reasons...and I'm not sure that I'll be able to get a lot of the ones I've planned for November done due to working more in the upcoming weeks.  But I'm going to give it a whirl and hope for the best!

  • Read 5 books - I'm thinking that this one should be an easy one since I've been reading more than ever lately.  I've been carrying a book with me at all times so if I have a few minutes I can dive right on in.  The five I'm planning on reading are The Serpent And The Rainbow (somewhat of a reread) / Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death And Life In New Orleans / The Boundaries Of Desire: A Century Of Good Sex, Bad Laws and Changing Identities /  Red Lory / The Devil All The Time.  There's a lot of 'Grit Lit' in there but it's my thang.
  • Create a better sleep schedule - I've been doing a lot of things to improve my health but for some reason my sleep has been suffering.  I'm trying to do things to help with the issue such as tart cherry juice, turning off the computer a good 30 minutes before I go to sleep, keeping things dark in the room, etc.  Nothing has worked so far but I'm going to continue with what I'm doing while adding in things like putting essential oils to my pillow as well as figuring out the best sleep schedule for me.  I'm thinking trying to hit the hay at 10 most nights except Monday when I work late.  I can't keep running on 4 or so hours anymore.  This month things have got to change.  Zzzzzz.
  • Cull the closet - I'm trying for a more capsule style wardrobe.  The less stress re: clothes the better.  Wish me luck!
  • Get outside as much as possible - This time of year is my favorite!  A bit grey and hazy that makes the changing leaves seem even brighter.  CARDIGANS!  Bonfires!  Hikes where you don't sweat buckets.  Bring the fall weather.  I'm down.  So down.
  • Be super frugal - We want to save a good amount for our trip to New Orleans next month.  I've already found us a super cheap airbnb home but we'd like some fun money for visits to our favorite places.  Plus there'll be a lot of holiday goodness going on so I'd like to have saved up so we can attend special events.  I think I'll be able to cross this one off the list for sure!
  • Find one thing a day to be grateful about - Pretty self explanatory.  Trying to stay happy over here!
Feels good to make a few plans.  Like I said, I may not be able to do it all but it's fun trying.

How about y'all?  Any goals for the month?

04 November 2015

Portland Is My Cleveland - Lost Snapshots From Maine...

On our trip to Canada and the northeast US I started watching 30 Rock for the very first time.  I mean, what else do you do when you're stuck in the tent while 50mph winds and rain rock your world on the Nova Scotia coastline?  I'm now on season 6 and rationing out the remaining episodes to special nights of the week.  I so don't want it to end for me!

I know y'all are probably ready for my mentions of my adventures to end.  I *promise* this will be the last post about that trip.  It was just such a fun time.  And I think I've mentioned that I got to see Stephen King's house!  Gah!

So, here are a few, and final, shots from Portland, Maine and the surrounding area...

We loved the museum and outdoor art.  And really, really love miniature golf.  We must've played about 8 different courses.  Score!

29 October 2015

McDonough, GA - Annual Main Street Scarecrow Showcase and Contest!

My Mom and I almost never get to have a day just to ourselves anymore.  Between my working and traveling, and her working and traveling and being one of the most social creatures I've ever known with a gazillion irons in the fire (she never meets a stranger...why didn't that rub off on me, eh?), we end up texting each other often but rarely get to see each other face-to-face.  That's been changing lately though and now we try to take an adventure together at least once a month.  This October trip = the Scarecrow Showcase on the main square in McDonough, GA.  It was a hoot!

Just a quick overview...

This event is to promote awareness of local businesses as well as the small-but-cute downtown of McDonough.  The city awards prizes to those who create the best scarecrow/pumpkin/Halloween displays although it's really not about the $ it's about promoting the area.  I love that folks are coming together to make something fun for the community!  We went Thursday last week and even at 1pm the area was pretty full of people gawking and pointing and taking pictures of the different scarecrow scenarios.  I can't even begin to imagine what it's going to be like this Friday and Saturday...

My vote's on Edward Scissorhands but the Ninja Turtles will probably sweep the contest...

Oh, and I ate a restaurant whose name ended with a 'z'...GRITZ.  Now, I have a negative thing about stuff like that for some reason (it drives me CRAZY to see a z as the plural or just stick on the end on the word that has no business with a z there) but this little place was such an eclectic experience with every type of small town character represented.  I'll go back to Gritz in a heartbeat.  My Mama loved their sweet potato casserole.  So how can you say no?

Here's to hoping that we can make this a yearly tradition!

28 October 2015

My Life In Pictures...

Is anyone else absolutely floored that it's the end of October?!?  OCTOBER?!?  Where did this year go?  It seemed to fly by for us and it doesn't look as if it's slowing down anytime soon.  Case in point is that many of these photos are from our Canada trip and some are over 2 months old.  It seems like yesterday we were sitting in the pickup truck bed in the middle of Montreal, eating Vietnamese food and watching the drunk kids at the hostel next door rage, rage, rage at 8pm...

Anyhoo, let's talk about some of the stuff up there in the collage because I know a few of you are probably wondering about spiders and mustachioed pumpkins.

From top to bottom and left to right:
/ Oh, Quebec provence I loved you so!
/ Weird flowery shrub things that I was gifted by a friend.  I don't cut flowers for the house but since these were already in my hands I went ahead and made a small arrangement with them for fall.
/ Wolf spider with a back full of tiny babies!  They were so cute and I tried not to disturb them too much.  Most people at work weren't thrilled with my photos but I'm cool with spiders and other bugs and think they're beautiful.  We live across from a park on a very wooded lot in a house that is over one hundred years old so, duh, we have critters everywhere and we live with them in the most harmonious ways we can.  I don't like the idea of 'killing it with fire' or such things.  It - spider, roach, wasp, etc - lives and serves a purpose and we share a world.  I try to be kind and not smush/kill unless there is biting about to commence.  End of story.
/ Quebec City donkey is cuuuuute.
/ Went on an adventure with my Mom and found a really cute town with a fun Halloween tradition.  More on that tomorrow!
/ Dog is my co-pilot.
/ Dreamy, spooky house in Vermont.  I made Brady do an illegal U-turn (with no one around) to get a photo of this place.
/ Contemplative Brady poses on the eastern side of Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia.
/ Two silly looking folk.
/ My jack-o-lantern idea begins.
/ A Jesus figurine that I found to gift to a talented artist friend.  It'll look completely different when he's done!
/ Overalls 4evah.
/ Gardenia blooms outside of our local liquor store.  Booze + flowers = Athens.
/ Pigeons, a favorite of mine, with a pop art prop in Quebec City.  There were real pigeons on these art pigeons.  Pigeon inception!

Other stuff that happened that isn't pictured:
/ Went to Cine (our local theater) to see Back To The Future on the all important day and had a blast.
/ Went to the big theater to see Crimson Peak and fell in love with the clothing and set design and the ghosts but not some of the other areas of the film.
/ Bought candy for trick-or-treaters and I'm eating it already.  Damn!  I'm such a cliche sometimes.
/ Hair is short again.  Bliss!
/ We now have 5 cats.  FIVE.  The latest were dumped/abandoned in our neighborhood and gravitated to our porch.  Now they're ours and all have appointments at the vet next week.
/ Booked an Airbnb for my birthday week in New Orleans in January.  Whoooooo!
/ Reorganized the porch and the house and finally have things like we like them.  Still on the hunt for a papasan chair to complete our '1970's earthy era exploded in here' living room.
/ Switched over spring/summer cakes at work and are trying new recipes for gingerbread, pumpkin and other spice cakes.  I'm also making so many new vegan ice creams!  It smells so good at work right now.

Whew.  Life is good.  Very good.

Hope you're having a great fall too!  Would love to know what you have planned for season...