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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bucket List Vacation

Due to work projects and requirements we are having to adjust our vacation schedule the upcoming years.  Our first major vacation in 2019 has to be no later than the first couple weeks of March so we decided to go somewhere in February.  When I happened across $450 round trip tickets to Zurich the trip planned itself!  I'm sssooooo EXCITED that we are headed to Switzerland to have a vacation truly for the bucket list. Skiing and snowboarding in the Swiss Alps  in the village of St. Moritz!  We will be staying at the Kempinski, a luxury hotel and spa that is ski in an ski out.  I can't wait for this trip!!! It is going to be EPIC! Here is a little preview!  eeekkkkk

the village of St. Moritz
map of the mountains
our beautiful hotel

Now time for shopping for all our gear!!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mental Health is Important

Mental health is such a hot topic these days from the abundance of suicides to postpartum moms as well as anything and everything in between mental health deserves to be talked about.  Having a mental weakness or fighting mental battles don't equate crazy, they don't make you a bad wife, parent, or whatever else you are...they are NORMAL parts of life.  With our hectic lifestyles and the stress to DO IT ALL we should all be talking and working on our own mental health. 

Something I do in my down time of driving or when it is quiet in the office and I can listen while I work I have a handful of podcasts that I love to listen to.  A couple that are really informative and bring a lot of women's issues from business to health to the forefront and there are really important conversations had with some really smart people in each field.  Those podcasts are Goop and also Girlboss Radio.  Especially the Goop podcasts really makes you think about a lot of stuff and also helps you feel better about things that go on in every one's life.  Little failures or things you purposely let fail, the idea and image of having it all, and what the pressure of that idea does to a person, the balance of love, life, career etc., as well as self-love and self-care.  

A few of my own mental health struggles are worry and anxiety.  These two things can literally ruin DAYS and weeks of my life when out of control.  Thankfully I have started doing things to help me TRY to manage those two demons as well as identify things that have always helped me manage them.  As I get older and more in the know with issues of womanhood, adulthood, and possible pending motherhood the more I need to learn to manage my stress and anxiety so I can be the best version of myself.

To help sort through and make sure I am in the best possible place for myself, my husband, my career, etc... 

What I do physically to help myself mentally?

~Turning to my husband for help~
~Live a healthy lifestyle with healthy diet and a lot of fitness~
~Down time with just me to relax, read, run errands, or just do exactly it is I want to do~
~Distance myself from toxic relationships that increased bad mental health issues~
~Listen to podcasts and stay informed~
~Research hot topics that could impact me so I am aware and prepared~

I understand there a lot more troubling and severe problems people have regarding mental health but these are my own personal struggles that are at times detrimental to my state of being.  I hope to get to a point that I don't have to worry about worry LOL!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Long Weekend in New Orleans

I've been wanting to hit up New Orleans for a weekend of sights and food for years.  I've only been one other time and that was only to get on and off a cruise ship after high school graduation.  Now that I'm older and know my travel style I was so excited to book and go on this long weekend in New Orleans.  I had a lot of things for us to do planned but also I think we had the perfect balance of relaxation and wondering.  We drove down and left the house a bit later than I wanted.  I really wanted to leave and be on the road by noon so we could see most of the scenery and also get into our VRBO at a reasonable hour but of course with work that didn't happen.  We still had a very relaxed and fun drive down on Friday November 9th.  We stopped off in Baton Rouge for dinner at a great LSU dive, The Chimes, that was loaded with a ton of beer options.  We got some fried alligator to start and then Hendrik had a po'boy and I had an amazing crawfish étouffée.  I have an awesome original recipe of crawfish étouffée from a dear friend and you could have compared them side by side and not been able to tell who's was who's.  It was so good and made me very excited for the rest of our weekend.  We arrived at our house for the weekend around 9:30 that evening and at first glance we were weary of our neighborhood only because we weren't sure what to expect but by the end of the weekend we felt our little street was perfect and reflected NOLA well.  Since we had already ate dinner we settled into our home got showers and headed off to bed so we could explore the next day.

Our VRBO for the weekend was everything we could have wanted and more.  It looked just like the pictures, was super clean, and had a great story.  I HIGHLY recommend this property and we will stay here again when we return.  It is perfect walking distance to most things we wanted to do and if not then the streetcar can be caught at the end of the street.  We chose this property for a couple main reasons: 1. it was more than half the price of the hotels in the area, 2. the hotels are in really busy populated areas that make for a very loud and very tourist experience.  This property was PERFECT!  Check it out and book your stay HERE!

Saturday November 10th we woke up naturally.  Of course I was up before Hendrik...long enough to make and drink a few cups of coffee and then I was ready to wake him and get ready to head out for the day.  Our host of the property had a really informative binder with awesome breakfast and brunch joints that were in the neighborhood as well as other great tips and tricks for our stay.  We chose the Ruby Slipper for Saturday brunch which is housed in an old bank.  The wait was a bit but I got us a couple amazing bloody Mary's to hold us over.  Louisiana, I discovered, adds a couple of pickled green beans to their bloody Mary's and it really set it off.  The Ruby Slipper also puts a bacon slice in it and I have to say its the best bloody Mary I have had.  The menu reminded Hendrik and I both of a cool spot in Dallas on the Southside that we ate  at a year or so ago.  It was really hearty and had a lot of gravy's and sauces involved.  Hendrik got the classic breakfast and I got their spin on biscuits with sausage gravy.  It was really good, really rich, and a really big portion.  The Ruby Slipper is highly recommended by us and it set us off on the perfect foot for our day of exploring.

After breakfast it was close to 11 so we headed out walking towards Jackson Square.  I loved all the classic and colorful houses, the iron railings, and all the old touches down to the tile work street names on each corner.  We wondered around Jackson Square, entered St Louis Cathedral, and stood at the river front before heading around to Marie Laveau's house of Voodoo.  We needed to make some change so we had to buy a drink down Bourbon street and see it in all of it's glory during the daylight hours.  We made a stop at The Bottom of the Cup for a tea reading.  I ended up changing my reading to a tarot card reading and was pleasantly surprised with what my reader told me.  Hendrik didn't participate and he was skeptic if I should since I'm already so anxious and a worrier he was worried I would dwell on the reading but it was a really positive experience and I'm glad I did it.  

We made our way to the cemetery to try to hop on a tour before it closed.  We cut it close and caught a tour that had just started.  I recommend doing this instead of booking a tour before hand.  This way you can play it by ear a bit since you never know what you are going to stumble upon or get yourself into.  There are tours all through the day and you can easily ask the gate keeper and they will put you in one for a fee at the gate.  To enter St. Louis Cemetery #1 you MUST have a tour. You aren't allowed to roam inside the cemetery alone due to vandals.  The tour was informative and also I don't want to do it again because I mean I've done it but I do recommend it as there is a lot of history to learn. 

After the cemetery tour we waited forever for the St Charles Avenue streetcar and it never came so we decided we would drive down the street the next day on our way in or out of town while doing our other exploring.  Instead we stopped over at the Bourbon House for a pretty early dinner at 5:30 before things got super crowded and also our Ruby Slipper breakfast had disappeared by then. LOL  We were really excited to eat the oysters and we were not disappointed.  We had charbroiled oysters that had a really yummy garlic sauce, and also three different types of sausage.  We then shared a oyster and pasta dish.

After dinner we scooted over the see the Carousel Bar inside Hotel Monteleone. The bar was packed and we were full from dinner so we didn't stay for a drink at the bar but it was really neat. We then started our journey UP and DOWN Bourbon Street stopping in at different bars that caught our attention with the music they were playing.  We really had a great time and around 8:30 stopped in a joint for a slice of pizza.  Once we are in daylight savings time and you have dinner at 5:30 a night on Bourbon Street is a LONG night LOL.  We sang and danced and of course drank. On our way back home we needed more than a shared slice of pizza after our trekking and drinking so we stopped over inside the Clover Grill.  If you ask Hendrik the Clover Grill is the best food we had our entire weekend!  I mean it was good its a greasy spoon type of joint that is relative to truck stops and pit grills.  Hendrik had a breakfast plate and I had a really good loaded hamburger.  It is a small diner with a few seats but the food is good and I can see that right off Bourbon Street serving greasy food if you happen to fall through the door you're on your way to curing your hangover.  

Sunday, November 11th started the same as Saturday.  We slept in, had coffee, and got ready.  We decided to stop over for brunch at a spot we had seen when leaving the Ruby Slipper the day before.  It was an eclectic hippy joint with fantastic food. Horns did NOT disappoint!  Hendrik had a classic breakfast and I had étouffée over a crab cake with a biscuit and two poached eggs.  It was a different type of étouffée more vegetable and less buttery sauce but it was equally as good especially with the poached eggs to add that creaminess.  After brunch we headed back to the house to grab our stuff and head out to see some plantations down River Road.  Our plan was to see Laura, Whitney, and Oak Alley plantations but we ended up only having time for Whitney and Oak Alley.  They were two beautiful plantations and the drive around and down River Road was equally amazing.

We first went to Whitney Plantation.  You must visit the plantation through a tour and we arrived at 12:30 with the next tour starting at 1.  We went ahead and got our tickets and while we killed time we went back up the road about a mile to take some pictures of some stunning driveways and houses that we had already passed.  The large live Oak trees and the Spanish moss hanging low is really my Southern girl dreams come true.  They seem to just take you back to a different time that was slower and easier paced.  I wanted to grab a nice glass of tea and watch the world pass by.  So beautiful there just really aren't words for me.

At 1 we were back at the Whitney Plantation and ready for our tour.  This tour was very solemn and focused on the slave life on the plantation.  It was very interesting and our tour guide was very informative.  You could tell that she had a real passion for the history of the Whitney.  The Whitney Plantation was a working plantation up until the mid 1970s!  There was several memorials around the plantation that you could view and read some testimonials from slaves that had been interviewed that had lived and worked at Whitney.  Reading their words made it all come to life and really was incredible because it was true not just historical facts.

After our 90 minute tour at the Whitney Plantation concluded we rushed to Oak Alley Plantation.  It was the one I REALLY wanted to see and it was getting later in the afternoon on a Sunday so I wanted to have plenty of time.  We weren't sure if we had to have a tour to see that plantation but thankfully you just paid a fee and you could roam the grounds freely.  If you wanted to go inside the Oak Alley mansion then you did have to have a guide and that was included in our entry.  We got in line and the tour was quick and informative.  The Oak Alley tour mainly focused on life of the house residents with a small insight into the slave life.  I liked how the two plantations we visited told two very different sides of the slavery and plantation life.  Oak Alley plantation hasn't been a working plantation since the late 1800's which is surprising because it is one of the more famous plantations.  A plus of us going to the plantation not only in the Fall season but also on a Sunday afternoon is the crowds were minimal and I got some great pictures of an uncrowded walkway that really showed the beauty of the once driveway and front of the house.  I was amazed by the trees and was told by the tour guide that the 28 live oak trees that line the drive were transplanted to the plantation in the 1820's and were already between 20 and 25 years old.  The trees are absolutely stunning. I could have stayed on the grounds forever.  Too bad live Oaks take so long to grow and mature to the beautiful trees they are or I would be planting them all on our property.  

We headed back NOLA around 4.  We drove down St. Charles Avenue to see the fancier side of the city and stopped over at a organic market. We got some sushi supplies and also I picked up some pickled green beans to bring home since I had never seen them at our grocery stores.  Since we were on that side of town we went down to the industrial warehouse type district and had dinner at Cochon.  The food was good but not great, I don't think it was what we really expected.  I did have a great brussel sprout casserole much like green bean casserole but with brussel sprouts instead and OMG, it was good.  I also had a really meaty pork chop. Hendrik had a rice and short rib dish.  To start we got oysters and also boudin balls. 

Monday November, 12th we got up a bit earlier and packed the car to head home.  We stopped at Cafe du Monde for some beignets and hot chocolate before setting out at home. We stopped for lunch in a little town and had a final creole meal before arriving back at home around 6 that evening.  

What a great weekend we had!  I knew it was going to be awesome but it surpassed all my expectations.  We had some awesome food that really left me inspired and since our trip I've been whipping up some really tasty meals including my spin on the brussel sprout casserole!  I can't wait to head back for more exploring!

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