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

How I Kept My Hair Under Control In New Orleans



I have had a long, contentious relationship with my hair.

It's too much to get into that whole story here, but let's just say that when I hit puberty my hair decided to rebel against me.  It frizzed and curled and waved and did weird things, and I've been wrestling it into submission ever since.

Thankfully this is typically very easy to do in my usual dry climate.  I straighten it, and nothing really messes it up unless it gets wet.  There is no real humidity to speak of.

Well, last time I went to New Orleans, I learned what humidity truly was.  I would go outside literally for two minutes, and I'd come back in and my hair was doing that weird frizz/curl thing it does.  It was bigger.  The frizz obscured all shine.  My bangs were sticking straight out to the side of my head in a strange attempt to curl.  It might have even made me cry one day when I realized how ridiculous I looked (please keep in mind I was hugely pregnant and hormonal, which may have also been a factor).

For our second trip to New Orleans I was determined to plan for the frizz, and though my hair didn't 100% held it's ground (is that even possible in New Orleans?), I have been overall pretty pleased with how it's held up.  This is what I think went better this time.



Hair Training

I mentioned this briefly before, but I've been training my hair recently to need less washing.  Part of this method includes brushing your scalp oils into your hair each night, which is supposed to be good for it.  This is totally anecdotal, but I suspect that the scalp oils have helped my hair hold it's shape a little better in this humidity.

Chi Shine Infusion Spray

I knew I was going to bring this spray on this trip, because last time we came my best hair day was the day I had used this product.  I just spray it over my hair after blow-drying and before straightening, and it makes my hair smoother and shinier, and that seems to tamp down in the humidity-induced frizz. (It's only $8 on Amazon today, which is a great deal!)

Joico Humidity Blocker Finishing Spray

This is the big guns.  I sprayed this on my hair every time I left the hotel in New Orleans.  It's basically like a very touchable hair spray.  Even after spending most of the day walking around outside, my hair looked like this:



It waved a little, but didn't frizz or stick out weird.  With my hair, I call that a success.

All my southern friends, how do you keep your hair under control in that humidity?

Especially if your hair is sort-of curly like mine?  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I do think my hair strategy would have to change if I lived down south.  This shorter style I usually sport is doable in dry weather, but requires a lot of maintenance when you breathe a significant amount of water in with your oxygen.


 Me and Derek, and I just went with my curls (with my humidity blocker spray) at the end of our trip.

The Big Easy (Our Trip In Photos)



My hopes for my little getaway to New Orleans basically boiled down to two things - I hoped Derek and I could get some quality time together, and I hoped that getting away for a couple days would give me a fresh perspective and get me out of my months-long discouraged funk.

I can report back in the affirmative on both counts!  

Derek and I had a great time together, first of all. We had beignets for breakfast in a cute cafe, went out to our favorite NOLA restaurant (twice), listened to some live jazz, and watched our favorite show before going to bed at a decent hour (because we are wild and crazy like that).  We had good chats about deep things, practical things, and silly things.  He indulged my photo-taking, and New Orleans is a photogenic city, so I have lots of good shots to share.  It was a lovely time.

On my hope of getting enough space to renew my perspective, that happened in the first two hours on the plane.  I picked up a fantastic audiobook that immediately hit on some of the things I've been so down about lately and gave me a biblical perspective on it.  It was completely something the Lord blessed me with, because the book was so timely and brought my focus back to Him.  By the time we touched down in New Orleans, I was feeling ready to bring that encouragement back and tackle my real life again.  The rest of the trip was just icing on the cake!

Highlights of New Orleans:

A plantation tour - I hit two plantations in one tour, Laura Plantation and Oak Alley.  Laura plantation was unusual in architecture, but oh man, the history!  It was probably my favorite just because I learned so much. (Also, those people were crazy.  Someone should make a TV series about it.)  Then I went to Oak Alley, which had towering oak trees on both sides of the drive and was completely gorgeous.  I wish Derek could have come with me, but he had to stay at his work conference.  I nearly missed my bus back because I misheard the pickup time, but that was the only hiccup.

Mr. B's Bistro - I had a chocolate molten cupcake and a bowl of gumbo at Mr B's the last time we were in New Orleans, and I've thought about that meal several times since then.  So of course we had to go back to Mr. B's (a couple times!).  I sprung for the bacon-wrapped shrimp and cheese grits one night, and oh my word.  It was so good.  Why is there not a Mr B's where I live?  It's expensive, but totally worth the splurge.

The Hotel Monteleone lounge - We were planning on doing a riverboat cruise again, but there were tornadoes or something while we were there?  I never witnessed this supposed bad weather, and the rain and wind weren't even too bad where we were, but we decided to be safe and just hung out at our hotel lounge.  Monteleone has the famous carousel bar that rotates slowly.  We didn't try that, but we did order a pop and sit in the lounge listening to the band one night.  It was just nice!

Cafe Beignet - Everyone tells you that you must go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets when you are in New Orleans, but last time we went there we just felt crowded and rushed.  It was busy.  So this time we went to the Cafe Beignet on Royal Street.  It was tiny and quiet, the patio was pretty, the beignets were just as good, and we were serenaded the entire time by a street musician.  I'd recommend it over Cafe Du Monde!

French Truck Coffee - And I have to mention this coffee shop, because as much as I was dreaming about that molten cupcake for two years, Derek dreamed about French Truck Coffee!  It's probably his favorite coffee place of the many we've tried over multiple states.  So far, anyway!

Without further ado, some pictures for you!

Coffee Run


(French Truck Coffee before my plantation tour the first morning!)

Laura Plantation

(Me, solo on my plantation tour - yes, I propped up my phone so I could be in some of the photos.  You do what you have to do.)




Oak Alley








An Evening Walk Down To The River

 (Of course we had dinner at Mr B's first!)







Beignets For Breakfast









(I pretty much spent the rest of the day lounging around the hotel and blogging and reading.  It was lovely.)

Dinner And Jazz
 (Our hotel was so pretty!)

(Mr. B's.  The amount of forks there was a little overwhelming, but it was still worth it.)

 (Had to dress up fancy for dinner one night, you know.)

(The carousel bar at our hotel, which we did not try, but which definitely added to the atmosphere.)

Beignet Encore




(Last picture in New Orleans before I had to leave to catch my flight!)

New Orleans is such a fun city to visit as a couple.  Plants grow on buildings, there is always jazz playing somewhere.  There is just something in the air down there, something musty and mysterious and romantic.   I'm glad we got to go again!  

Have you ever been to New Orleans?





New Orleans And The Resurrection

(Photos taken in April last year, because the trees are weirdly delaying their flowering this spring.)

I'm going to be totally honest guys, it's been a difficult few weeks around here.  Actually, if I'm being totally honest, it's been a difficult year for me so far.

By all measures, this should be a great year.  It's our first year in our new house.  The kids are all getting bigger, and a little easier since we don't have a tiny baby anymore.  Derek is happy in his job, and homeschooling is going fairly well.  It's not an election year (ha!).

But I've been having a hard time.  There is the difficult church situation that is leaving me feeling unanchored.  A couple relationship struggles that are giving me some stress.  Disturbing trends in the culture, and in the "capital-c" Church, that are making me fearful and deeply discouraged.  And my own sinful impulses that make me impatient and irritable with those I love most.

It's not too much, a bunch of (mostly) little things really, but all together it's done a number on my emotional state.

The last couple weeks I hit a breaking point.  One whole week I found myself waking up every hour of each night.  I've never done well on little sleep.  I was completely exhausted, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually as my relationship with the Lord has taken a hit through all this too (no one to blame but myself for that one).

I cried my way through the week, and I just so desperately needed a break.  I could see only endless months of the same ahead, with the only break (vacation) pushed out from May until August this year.  I needed a reset button, and vacation so often is that for me, but I couldn't even look forward to that for a long while.

Derek was due to go on a work trip in a couple weeks to New Orleans, and I could not imagine holding down the fort very well with him gone.  I was so worried about it, I remember shooting up a pathetically short prayer that the Lord would help me to maintain a good and cheerful attitude when Derek was absent.



But then Derek called my mom. And she agreed to watch the kids.  So I get to go with him to New Orleans.

There is something about getting away from my normal surroundings that gives me a clear perspective on life.  It reminds me what I love about home.  It allows me to look with fresh eyes on the things that I need to change.  Vacation almost makes me internally sheepish about how I've been taking my wonderful blessings from God for granted.  It all becomes more clear, somehow.

It's silly, so silly, to write about this during Passion Week.  This is the week that we remember how Christ suffered and died to pay the price for our sins.  For all my sin.  Including my sins of forgetting that Christ is my only anchor and hope, even when the church lets me down.  My sins of selfishness and pride that lead to the relationship struggles I've been dealing with.  My sin of fearing something earthly and temporary when God holds the future in His hands.

I deserved to die and bear the wrath of my own sins, but Christ bore that penalty for me.  He suffered more than I ever will have to suffer, He took my punishment.  And then He rose from the dead, victorious!  He cast my sin away and credited His righteousness to me when I put my trust in Him, and now I'm free of that burden forever.

How silly of me to worry and agonize about the future.  My future is secure for eternity because of what Jesus did for me.  As it is also for everyone who turns to Him in repentance and faith that He alone will save them.

And I'm remembering all this now, as I'm packing a bag for New Orleans.

Maybe it's just a trip to The Big Easy, but planning for that trip at the same time that I'm planning for celebrating His resurrection on Easter has reminded me.  He took care of the biggest thing, the sin that has separated us from Him.  He took care of this relatively small thing of giving me the refreshment of a break that I didn't even dare to pray for.

He's got the rest of it under control too.

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
1 Corinthians 15:57



I may try to write again before Easter, but if I don't, Happy Resurrection Day, friends! I pray you know the peace that comes from knowing our Savior.  He is Risen!

Ferries And Lakes And Orcas, Oh My! (Seattle Part Two)



Back to our Seattle trip!

Sunday

After finding out our whale-watching tour was cancelled a few days before we were supposed to leave, we scrambled and scheduled a different whale-watching tour for Sunday.  I was glad we could find another one, because whale-watching was an expected highlight for us - we just don't get a chance to see ocean life in our land-locked state, and we didn't want to miss our chance!

When we arrived, we asked the rental car guy if native Seattlans would roll their eyes at the tourists pointing at the whales.  Where we live, the tourists always stop traffic for elk, and it's so annoying because we see them often enough to not stop anymore.  He assured us that seeing a whale was still pretty cool, even for people who live there.







(This was the water in the wake behind out boat - look at that color!)

(I wish I had a better lens - orcas!)

(You can kind of see the baby in this one!)



We loved the whale-watching trip!  We saw 15+ different orcas, all part of an orca family in the Puget Sound.  We learned that different sub-species (ecotypes) of orcas will not breed with each other, because each ecotype has it's own culture and traditions that the mother orcas pass down.  They could identify all the orcas by the white patches on their backs.  The mothers lead the groups, and the male orcas will stay with their moms throughout their life, because the mother orcas have more social connections and can help them find a lady orca (ha!).  We learned so much from the naturalist onboard, and I interrogated her about her career path because I have a certain marine-life-obsessed little boy at home who would love that job.  

We also saw a bunch of seals and young bald eagles, which was cool too!

We went with the Puget Sound Express, and though they were a little pricier, they were one of the only tour companies that left from a suburb of Seattle, and we were only gone a half day.  I was just glad we got to go after our other tour was cancelled!

When we got back we went over to Gas Works, which is a park they made out of an old industrial area.  Why don't they do this in every city?  It was so cool!








We dressed up for dinner, and took a couple pictures together by the lake.  Then we went out to dinner at Five Guys after deciding to skip the fancy restaurant after all.







Monday

On Monday we said goodbye to our great little lake cottage, our spider friend, and the Market (I just had to go back one more time).  




We went by the market one more time and bought some loose-leaf tea, but we got a little lost on our way back to the car and stumbled upon Seattle gum wall!  I may have had hard time finishing my breakfast after that.  Blech!




After our Market stop, we had just enough time to ride the ferry over to Bainbridge Island for a quick lunch and walk, before we rode the ferry back to catch our plane!







I have to tell you, I was really impressed with the ferries.  You could hardly tell you were on a boat unless you went to the passenger decks.  I don't know much about engineering, but I feel like the ferries were a pretty amazing feat!

Overall, I really enjoyed Seattle!  One of the guys working at the Market told us that Seattle and our city feel pretty similar to him, and I could certainly see that.  The mountains and friendliness of the city definitely reminded me of home, but the fish market, whales, campfires all over the place, abundant greenery, and lakes and water everywhere were beautiful and different.  If I couldn't live where I live, Seattle might be my next choice!  I loved it.

Goodbye Seattle!







© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.