Friday, July 11, 2014

fourth of july weekend

I'm going to go ahead and call it: I'm pretty sure we had the best Fourth of July weekend. Like, ever. There were no fireworks, but even still, I am pretty confident our weekend cannot be topped. We were up in Baton Rouge, dog-sitting Lovey, and we spent the entire time eating good food, walking the pooch, doing some serious circuit training, and wading in a $12 kiddie pool while drinking fruity beer. I know. And, yes, it was awesome. And here are the photos to prove all of that awesomeness:

We absolutely loved taking Lovey out to breakfast and then walking her around the LSU lakes. She is such a good pup! And she made all sorts of friends on our adventures (including a precious babe whose first word was "puppy"). I was worried about the heat, but she pulled through like a champ...and then slept for the rest of the day :) After her walks, James and I would go to the "beach" (a patch of sand by the big lake) to do some sprints, pull-ups, etc. I have been struggling to balance my usual exercise time with my camp time, so it felt wonderful to get out there and run around!

And here we are enjoying the best $12 I've ever spent. I hope I always remember those afternoons laying around in that silly little pool--listening to music, talking about everything and nothing. Those few hours could not have been sweeter.

In addition to all of our Lovey time, we also got to see some good friends and some of my family, too. We loved getting to see everyone! And we also loved trying out City Pork (cheese, wine, pork products--doesn't get much better). We also ate a ton of buffalo wings one night and watched Ronda Rousey kick some serious butt (I know she bothers a lot of people, but, man oh man, I love her (read: girl crush)). After all of that excitement we packed up and headed back to Nola.

This past Monday, James started his clinical rotations! It is insane, and exhausting, but he seems to like it so far (after a not so awesome Monday, that is). He is in neurology right now, and starts surgery in a couple of weeks. I am so proud of him and all of his hard work! And doesn't he look spiffy in that white coat?

I'm still "camping" for two more weeks. I cannot believe it is almost over! Where has summer gone?! This week kind of took it out of me, so I am looking forward to a couple of days of movie watching and napping. James and I are in the middle of Rushmore (it is awesome!) and we also have the new Monsters Inc. So, you know...it should be lots of low-key fun :) Hope yours is the same!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

palmer park arts market

Last Saturday, James and I stumbled into the Palmer Park Arts Market. The Market sets up on the last Saturday of every month and is brimming with unique jewelry, pottery, paintings, sculptures, and snoballs, too. We always forget to intentionally make a trip, but this is the second time that we serendipitously drove past during pique art hours. And like that first time, I am so glad we happened upon it!

It has been soggy, soggy, soggy these past few days, not to mention as hot as hades. I feel like I have (weirdly) not noticed the tremendous heat this summer. I'm not sure how that's possible since I have been outside a ton with camp, but maybe because I've been constantly moving, I haven't really felt it? Regardless, all of that "not noticing" changed over these past few days, because holy cannoli--it is an oven down here. As we meandered through the Market, wading through mud, puddles, and fire ants, I could feel bead after bead of sweat roll down my back...but, hey, such is life in south Louisiana!

Despite all that heat, we stopped at a couple of the most intriguing booths (and even caught some printmaking in action), but the best part of the day was our time at Casey Willems' pottery booth. He had some beautiful pieces--berry bowls, coffee cups, plates, etc.--but he had even better stories. Casey hails from Holland and grew up during the War (he even wrote a YA book based loosely on his experiences), and he has been working exclusively on his pottery for almost forty years! How incredible is that? Aaaand, he happens to be the very proud papa to children's book author, Mo Willems. I adore the Pigeon books, so this was all particularly exciting for me. Sometimes I love this place a bunch.

That afternoon, we took my Casey Willems' original for a spin with some hot chocolate and old episodes of 30 Rock. All in all, a great day. And we have officially made a pact to shop exclusively at the Arts Market and other farmer's markets in the area for Christmas 2014. So, get ready for some handmade goodies, family and friends! :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

happiness is...

...blue cheese, crackers, cherries and beer for Friday night dinner. Plus an 8:30pm bedtime, too.

...Saturday morning movies (of the ridiculous and inspiring varieties).

...four-year-old campers who say the funniest things.

...work friends who bring you farm-fresh eggs and just-picked blueberries.

...capture the flag, sharks and minnows, jellyfish hats, and creative movement class.

...lunch at Toups + Sunday night sushi + Monday night Mondo with friends.

...bear hugs and kisses from sweet campers all day every day.

...baking.

...finding old photos.

...dreaming up new adventures.

...killer sunsets on sticky summer nights.

...a random pianist in a field of wild flowers.

...a camper who brings you pink hydrangeas on his first day of camp.

...and brand new nail polish, too.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

gone camping + other updates

Wow! How did we already get to June 15? The past few weeks have been flying! Here's what's been going on:
  • I have officially completed my first two weeks as the director of a small summer day camp, and y'all. I am so tired (and sore!), but I am also so, so, so happy. My campers are wonderful! And I love spending my days playing games, crafting, science experimenting, and judging lots and lots of Iron Chef. I am up by 5A and can't keep my eyes open after about 9P, but I'm having a blast. I have about twelve campers per week, and two fantastic counselors, and it has all been a lovely experience. It is definitely challenging and keeps me really busy, but I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. Plus, I get to spend time in the pool every day and that is pretty much the best perk ever. Two weeks down, five more to go!
  • Through this whole day camp experience I have discovered that 5-7 year olds are the best. Honestly. I'm calling it now: best ages ever. They are hilarious, and have very distinct personalities, and they really are so much easier than the little, littles. I thought that 3-4's would always be my favorites...but my six year olds have totally stolen my heart. And, as it turns out, this is a really lucky thing, because...I recently accepted a job teaching first or second grade at a local public school! I start in August, and I am super excited! And also nervous. And excited! And terrified. You know how it goes :) 
  • James takes his Step 1 Exam tomorrow. Tomorrow! Eep! He is ready, and I know he will do just fine, but it is going to be a very long, arduous day of test taking. Send some good vibes his way if you get a chance! We'll be celebrating tomorrow night with Taco Bell, Bagel Bites, Ben & Jerry's, and lots of HBOGo. I can't wait. I am so happy that he is almost done with this monster, and I am so proud of him for persevering through a month of constant studying! You're the best, Jameson. 
  • My parents recently moved to Michigan from Minnesota. It is totally crazy, but also exciting. I can't wait to go visit! They got themselves all nice and moved in last week, but came down south for a quick Father's Day visit this weekend. It has been great to see them! We went to my little brother's dance show last night (it was wonderful (as always)!), and we've spent today watching Tin Cup, eating grilled chicken salads, and laughing and chatting a bunch. My dad and I also spent the early morning hours talking about food, drinking coffee, and taking Lovey on a long walk. I love my dad so much, and I feel very lucky to get this time with him. He works so hard, and he and I share a very strong sense of nervousness, but I love when he is able to relax and hang out a little bit. I couldn't ask for a better dad, and I am so happy that we had a little Sunday morning/Father's Day time together. 
That's all of the big stuff. Additionally, we are still loving Netflix, bike rides around City Park, ice cream cones, magnolia blossoms, lots and lots of PJ's coffee and lots and lots of local eats. And summer is still my most favorite time of the year. Hope yours has been hot, sunny, and full of fun! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

inspiring me


"Better days are coming."
Cucumber, lime punch
Vintage Julie Andrews
Happiness in a photo.
Rio de Janeiro. I'll take a yellow umbrella, please.
Number one on the puppy wishlist.
Don't listen to my mom, this movie was funny.

Love that one a lot. 

Happy weekend!

Monday, May 19, 2014

ebenezer park + jim's birthday

Jim turned 31 on Sunday and he is officially half-way done with his medical school career. Woohoo!! It is all terribly exciting. To celebrate, we packed up the little blue car and headed west to Ebenezer Park--a small campsite near Jasper, Texas.

We have been talking about camping for what feels like forever. We both are super drawn to the idea of being "camping people," though neither of us have a great deal of experience. We finally sprung for a tent over Christmas, and we decided to just go for it. Experience (and weather) be damned! We used recreation.gov to find some campsites near Nola, and landed on Ebenezer because of its beautiful lakeside location (and its proximity to horses!).

After four hours of road trip tunes and a Heath bar blizzard for good measure, we pulled into our site late in the afternoon. It was overcast, but breathtaking. We hit the jackpot! We set up our tent and jumped right into exploring. Our site (#20) included a steep bluff that lead down to the shoreline. We (carefully) made our way down to stick our feet in the water, and fell in love with the clay, the waves, and all of the beautiful views. After getting all settled, we walked over to the swimming area to take a quick dip, and then settled in for a long stormy night.

We kind of had a feeling that it might be a bit rainy, but, man! We were slammed with rain, lightening, thunder, wind--the works! The tent held up totally fine. Amazingly, we had zero leaks. But I got a little spooked, so we spent the majority of the first night in the car. It was not the comfiest sleeping arrangement...but we made it through the night! I also read almost all of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A perfect adventure book! Two thumbs up.

The next day, after a quick nap in the tent and an even quicker Wal-Mart stop, we spent some time hiking through Martin Van Dies Jr. State Park. We tackled the Forest Trail (battling an insane amount of spider webs!) and the Island Trail. We both loved the Island Trail. It was filled with stunning views, seriously friendly dragonflies, turtles, and a single, slow-moving alligator (we called him Bonzo).

When we got back to camp for the day, Jim started a fire. We spent the rest of the day alternating between sitting around the fire and sitting down by the lake--reading, chatting, sharing a bottle of wine. It was completely tranquil and I felt so much more relaxed than I had earlier in the week. As the sun set, it started raining again (without the lightening this time), and we cozied up with our books for one more night of tent sleeping. The next day, we stopped at the Donut Ranch for some kolaches and sprinkles, and then we were homeward bound. We had such a lovely time and we can't wait to go back to the woods one day soon. It was nice to take a couple of days of relaxation before the craziness of this summer starts!

Oh! And for Jim's actual birthday, we celebrated with a trip to Squeal for barbeque (bbq shrimp and grits for him, ginger-habanero pork belly sandwich for me) and a couple of macaroons from Manhattan Jack's. We also watched Game of Thrones and Veep (because Sunday nights are the greatest night for tv).

I am so happy to celebrate another year of Jameson and another year with Jameson. We started dating four years ago this month. That first trip to Latte e Miele; that first bike ride around the lakes; and that first birthday spent wandering down the levees in Baton Rouge--I'm so thankful for all of those firsts, and all of our future firsts. So, happy birthday, James! Can't wait for many, many more Mays with you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

walking in new orleans

Last night, James and I took an impromptu stroll through the French Quarter. We were this close to taking a nap at 6pm, watching more Netflix, and going to bed, but then we got the itch to do something a little different--the itch to get out of our bubble, stretch our legs, and see the city at dusk. I'm not sure what came over us...but I'm glad it did. The weather was perfect and the people watching was prime. It really would have been a shame to stay cooped up.

We spent the first part of our evening trekking down Bourbon Street. I have only been to Bourbon one other time (way back when), and it was kind of fun being in the middle of all the craziness. It is definitely a tourist trap (one teeming with strip clubs, bars, and loads of people), but despite its cheese factor, it can be pretty fun. James and I split a hurricane as we observed all of the street performers and out-of-towners. We even popped into Marie Laveau's. Now, if you're ever in the city, I recommend checking this place out. Again, it is a little cheesy, but there are so many funky pieces of art, folklore, and magic to be seen--I'd say its worth it. Plus, there is typically a reader in house, so you can take a peek into your future. Or something like that. There were all sorts of goodies that I was tempted to purchase...but I left with only a small pouch of Guatemalan worry dolls. I'll let you know how those work out ;)

After leaving Bourbon, we walked down St. Ann, admiring all of the incredible houses, hit Armstrong Park, and then headed back towards Jackson Square. On our way, we ran into a pack of very well-fed stray cats, and chatted with an ex-Nola-resident. We also stopped to listen to some beautiful violin playing in front of the Cathedral, ran into several ghost tours, and took a sandwich and onion ring break at Stanley. The air was muggy and heavy in that perfect almost-summertime way and it made us both pretty giddy. I'm not sure if there is anything quite like spring in the south. 

We are closing in on the two year mark--two years since we packed up and moved down to New Orleans. The impending anniversary has made us both a little nostalgic and contemplative--what do we like best about New Orleans? What do we like least about New Orleans? Could we live here forever? Where could we live forever? Etc., etc. Here's what we've come up with:

We love City Park. So much. We are there almost every day, running through the oaks, admiring the sculpture garden, practicing our pull-ups, you name it. I will forever be grateful that we landed a rental within a mile of that place. There's just something about it that fills me all the way to the top.

We love the food. Finding new restaurants and eating new food are two of my favorite hobbies, and New Orleans makes it so easy. Our favorites?  Mondo, Cake Cafe, ManhattanJack, Rue 127, St. James Cheese, Crescent Pie and Sausage, High Hat Cafe, and Boucherie. I also can't say enough about the signature margaritas at El Gato Negro or the cones at Creole Creamery.We're still on the hunt for our favorite sushi place and our favorite pizza place, and District Doughnuts is definitely calling my name, but I am more than happy to continue munching my way through this city.

Finally, we love the people. Some of our favorite people call New Orleans home, and I think that says a lot for a city.

Sure, we could do without the bugs (we have names for our most frequently visiting insect friends and I could probably live quite happily without Helen and Dave in my living room). We could also probably do without the rough roads and generally iffy infrastructure. And we would really like our one day home to have a stellar public transportation and school system. But, hey. I'd say that for the time being, New Orleans is a pretty wonderful place to be. It probably won't be ours forever, but we will definitely embrace it for right now.

So, here's to (at least) two more years in the Crescent City. May there be many more oysters, plenty more Abita, and as many bons temps as we can get our hands on.