Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts

Nothing Too Interesting

(I did not take this photo today.  Obviously.)

You know how I wrote that post about "spring" in the mountains last week?  Well, it's snowing.  That's about right.

You know how people ask you, "So, what have you been up to?"  And you respond with "Oh, nothing too interesting."  Well, that's this post.  Nothing too interesting, but life isn't always edge-of-your-seat, is it?  Life is made up of a whole lot of nothing-too-interesting, so I see no reason why I shouldn't still take time to write about it.

The last couple weeks have felt so busy to me, but not with anything very substantial.  No, I've been busy with things like creating a spreadsheet with all the groceries that are in my cupboards, making muffins for the kids for breakfast to save money on cereal, and cleaning my house.  All helpful, good domestic things.  All things that, dare I say, I have surprisingly found rather fun.  

Once again, not things that are very interesting to write about, but that won't stop me from trying! Because guys, if you have never created a grocery-cupboard-spreadsheet, I feel like you should give it a try.  This was a particularly hard month when it comes to grocery money, so the spreadsheet was born from my desire to see how long I could make it without going to the grocery store.  I had no idea how much was hiding in the dark recesses of my freezer!  I've barely gone to the store at all this month - I've spent probably around $200 on groceries for April.  For seven people.  

I laid all the items in my cupboards out on a spreadsheet and then put together meals with what I had, and it's been amazing.  I saved so much money!

And we've actually been eating pretty well, if I do say so myself (thanks in large part to this cookbook).  We've had braised meatballs in wine gravy, spicy chops with sweet potatoes, skillet steak with peppers and cheese, barbecue roast, raspberry hazelnut chicken with potatoes (not as labor-intensive as it sounds, I made it with salad dressing).  And for breakfast we've been having these (amazing) nut muffins, banana muffins, cranberry muffins, pumpkin pancakes, and hard-boiled eggs (instead of the cold cereal we usually have).  

My grandma told me once that when you have less food to work with, it's easier to get creative and you almost end up eating better than when you have an abundance.  I must say, she was right.

I also realized about halfway through the month that I had read hardly any books, so last week I buckled down and finished FIVE books.  Pretty good, right?  And I'm halfway through three more that I'm hoping to finish before May!  

I've been having a lot of fun making videos with my recently read books this year, and watching other bookish videos on Youtube.  My friend Felicia has been on "booktube" for years, and I love watching her videos.  It's quicker and easier to talk about the books you've been reading, rather than sitting down and compiling a post with mini-reviews (at least it's easier to me, I don't know why).  So if you want to keep updated on books I'm reading, you need to stop by my channel.  Or you can also follow me on Goodreads, because I'm still writing reviews on all my books there (how is that easier than writing review posts on my blog, you ask?  I don't know, it just is!).

Speaking of May, we booked our vacation!  We are flying out to North Carolina this year to visit Derek's family!  The last time we went to North Carolina I was largely pregnant with Gwen, so it's been quite a long time.  We have four more babies on the outside than we did then.  I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous about flying with five young children.  The airline assured me (multiple times, because I asked the same question, worded slightly differently, repeatedly) that we would be sitting with our children on the plane.  "Are you sure?" I said.  "Because there are four of them, and one in my lap." But they assured me this would be the case without any extra seating fees.

Now I have the monstrous task of digging all the kids' summer clothes out of the closets, and sorting through them to see what will be acceptable North Carolina attire in May.  Southeast people, what's it like out there in May?  Because the last time I went on a May vacation somewhere that I thought it would be warm (ie. ARIZONA), it snowed.

The spring snow, I tell you.  It follows me even out of state.

How We Saw New Orleans In Two Days (And What You Should See If You Go)





I am pretty sure we squeezed every ounce of New Orleans adventure that we possibly could out of 48 hours in the city.  I landed in New Orleans at 1:23 PM on Wednesday, and left for the airport at 12:50 PM on Friday - it felt like a strangely relaxing whirlwind!  I am so glad we took the chance to have a pre-baby getaway to a place that was brand-new to both of us.

More on where we went and what we did below, but first, pictures.

DAY ONE















I am pretty much a mountain girl, and rarely spend this much time in the city...so while I think my urban photography skills could use some help, this whole trip gave me a great chance to practice!

Here's what we did the first day:

-Arrived in the afternoon at Hotel Monteleone, which was so pretty! It also is home of the Carousel Bar, which is a rotating bar - we didn't get anything there, but it was cool to see it.

-Derek finished his conference class, and we set out to explore the city!  We walked to Jackson Square and saw the oldest operating cathedral in the US.

-We also found some pretty doors to take pictures in front of.  So many of the streets were so picturesque!  If I lived there I would be hunting for good photo spots all the time.

-Stopped at Bourbon Street - that would be the picture where I am not grinning.  It was so gross!  Nothing pretty about that street at all, unlike the rest of the French Quarter.

-Went to the Palace Cafe for dessert.  Derek got the bananas foster, which they made right in font of us!  I got the lemon pie.  Both were excellent!

-We also grabbed dinner, just at the Marriot because it was most convenient that night.  We discussed baby names!

-Went back to the hotel and crashed at like 8 PM, home time.  I was so tired from traveling.

DAY TWO
















What we did on the second day (our only full day):

-Got some coffee at French Truck Coffee.  I loved that place!  It was clean and pretty, and they played oldies.  I already waxed poetic about it on Instagram, see more there.

-Walked back to the hotel and waited for my tour bus to arrive while Derek went to the conference.  I booked a city tour with Cajun Encounters, and it was definitely worth the money.  The tour guide (forget his name, looked like Ashton Kutcher) was one of the better tour guides I've ever had.  I wouldn't have seen nearly as much of the city without it, and I learned so much!

-The tour stopped by one of New Orleans above-ground cemeteries.  It was creepy and interesting, because the reason they bury that way is not what I expected.  Much too gruesome to describe here for all my posterity to read, but comment if you want to know and I'll explain.

-Other things I saw on the tour: Creole millionaire's row, Creole neighborhoods, Jackson Square again, the Tomb Of The Unknown Slave (which was interesting but so sad), the Garden District, and of course the cemetery.

-The tour also took us to a cafe called Morning Call, and we got free beignets and coffee as part of the tour!  Score!  These were actually my favorite beignets from when we were there.

-After the tour I went to a buffet for lunch (a little intimidating walking through the city by myself, it is so busy there).  The food was okay, but the desserts were amazing!  Every dessert I got in New Orleans was fantastic.

-Went back to the hotel and waited for Derek to get off from the conference. This was when I washed my hair - a turning point in the trip, because I washed out all my good products from home, and my hair responded way differently to the humidity without my products!

-I had intentions of sitting by the pool, but it was actually raining that afternoon, so I sat at one of the covered tables on the pool deck and started narrowing down our list of baby names and looking up meanings.  Derek and I really wanted to use our time alone on this trip to get a short list of names for our girl!

-We decided to go ahead and book a riverboat cruise!  When Derek got out of his class, we got dressed and walked over to the river (we might have stopped and bought some maple fudge on the way).  It was a jazz dinner cruise on a steamboat called the Natchez, and it was an excellent decision to go.  The music was amazing, the views were so pretty, and the the steamboat horn was so deep and cool-sounding.  We got back when it was dark, and the city lights were so pretty!

-We took a pedi-cab back to the hotel - good because our feet were hurting, scary because our driver was nuts!  I thought we were going to tip over!  But hey, a 15 minute walk only took her about 3 minutes, so she was efficient!

DAY THREE






















What we did on day three:

-Got more coffee at French Truck Coffee.  I miss that place!

-Walked over to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and orange juice.  

-The humidity was out of control that morning!  My hair was wet by the time we got back to the hotel, but we stopped at several gift shops and a gallery on the way back (partially to escape the heat!).  I practiced more photography in the city.  We bought pralines for the kids, and a Christmas ornament with Santa riding an alligator.

-The gallery we stopped at had these unique paintings - the artist layered the pain on really thickly, so it had a 3D effect,  I wish you could see it better in the picture, it was pretty cool!

-At this point Derek had to leave me again, and I took another shower before packing up my things.  Derek had already packed and gone, because his flight left several hours later than mine, and he and some of his co-workers were going to do a swamp tour that afternoon!  I have to admit, I was a little jealous of the swamp tour.  He got to feed alligators!  And hold a baby alligator!

-After washing my hair, I went to lunch at Mr. B's Bistro, right across from our hotel.  I had the gumbo and the molten chocolate cup cake.  Oh my goodness.  It was so good!  I gushed to Derek in a text about it, so he and his coworkers ended up stopping there too before they flew home.  It was just really good.  In my book, you pretty much HAVE to go there if you visit New Orleans.

-The airport shuttle picked me up, and home I went!  I was sad to leave, but my hair was not sad.  I worked on middle name pairings for baby while I waited for me plane.

I am so glad Derek and I got to explore New Orleans as much as we did, and it was a great time to reconnect (and think of some names!) before our little girl arrives in less than three months!  

So if I was to make recommendations for a quick trip to New Orleans:

-Take a tour.  They are definitely worth the money, and you see so much more that way!
-Jackson Square was really pretty, definitely walk over there.
-Eat at Mr. B's Bistro.  It's a must.
-Try to find somewhere to listen to some jazz music!  We did the riverboat, but I'm told Frenchman Street is a good place to go too.
-Bring your good hair products if you have even a slight hint of curl/wave!  Your hair will thank me for this one, trust me.
-And get some beignets somewhere!  It's kind of a New Orleans requirement, I think.



The Big Easy



Have you heard of having a "babymoon"?

The idea was first becoming popular when I was pregnant with Wyatt.  It's basically one last trip with just the two parents before baby arrives.

At the time, part of my liked the idea - it does make sense to travel one last time before baby!  But another part of me rolled my eyes.  Really?  Another thing we have to try to find the money to pay for before baby?  The perfectly decorated nursery, perfect maternity and newborn photo shoots, not to mention the hospital bills - those just aren't enough expense by themselves, huh?  

We're not rolling in the dough here, after all.

Still, before we had Wyatt, Derek and I planned a little weekend Valentine's getaway, and I thought, there ya go.  That can also be our babymoon!  Little did I realize that we would end up having to cancel our weekend getaway and check into the hospital to meet our boy sooner than expected.

Since then, Derek and I never attempted another babymoon, and I had no plans to do one this time either...until I found out Derek was getting to go to New Orleans for a work conference.  I've never been to New Orleans!  I wanted to go!  So I booked a flight, and am now spending two nights with Derek in the Big Easy.

Kind of like that babymoon we never had!  

Except this is our fifth baby, not our first, and Derek will have to spend most of the day in his conference...but I couldn't pass up a chance for a getaway.  We'll still have the evenings together (like two date nights in a row!), and I plan on adventuring a little by myself when he's working.  Either adventuring or laying by the pool, I haven't decided yet.

My to-do list thus far:

1. Get beignets somewhere for breakfast.
2. Find some good restaurants for dinner.
3. Take a lot of pretty pictures.
4.  Relax by the pool (if I don't die from the heat).
5. Read a lot.

So what do you think?  What do I need to see in New Orleans?  
We're staying in the French Quarter, and I really have no idea what to expect. Have you ever been there?
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