Tuesday, April 15, 2014

42

It's birthday season in our house as three out of the four of us have April birthdays. Mine is first and I turned 42, which apparently is the best number ever, and the meaning of life.

When you get to be my age, you buy your own birthday presents. I went with a new iPhone and a box of Raw Girls food including super yummy salads, quinoa burgers, taco salad and juices!

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I started the celebrations a few days early. My weekly Tuesday night with the ladies was dedicated to my birthday. Gifts included bourbon and a soccer gift certificate. They know me well!

Wednesday we had a lovely extended family dinner at Skewer, followed by ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. Here is a rare photo of Tracey & I together.

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My meal was pretty too.



Here's me and my mom, while I tried to teach her to take a selfie.

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Thursday I rested up for the actual day, which was Friday. Naturally, I took the day off to shop and daydrink with my birthday twin, Colleen. This was our third year celebrating this way!

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In addition to multiple whiskey smashes at Hog & Hominy, we also had the buffalo pig tails. Yum!



The crispies on top are sliced pig ears. It was weird, but really, really tasty.

After shopping and thoroughly catching up, I left Colleen to meet up with my BFF Marlinee at Second Line.

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A few others joined in and this is the only other picture fit for public consumption. (Max and I were recreating a picture of he and Marlinee on their first date.)

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Saturday was the season opener of Rock-n-Romp at Mud Island. It wasn't really birthday related, but thanks to the power of Facebook, I received many salutations. And Central BBQ! And Tom's Tiny Kitchen pimento cheese!



Chip snapped this pic of me and my newspaper husband, Richard.]

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And my pal Julie got artsy with this one...(I borrowed Jiro's sunglasses.)

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Saturday evening, I went to a cookout compliments of Highballers Julie & Lauren. We had a Mexican fiesta theme and it was super fun. Tee not only prepared a feast, he also played bartender.



The more Highballs that get involved, the longer the party lasts. (It was also Weetie's birthday celebration!) We had a great time enjoying a perfect spring night.



The birthday celebrations concluded on Sunday, with Memfeast. It was held on Broad Avenue and guests got to choose the design for the water tower. It was amazing! There was SO much food.



Warren, who spent the day slaving in the yard, was especially happy!

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Thank you to everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday either in person, on Facebook, by email, text or phone call. I feel very loved!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Highballs Win!

It took three seasons, but we finally made it all the way to the top! The Highballs were undefeated all season long, but finished second due to goal differential. So making it to the tournament and facing off against the Lunachicks, who we tied in the first round, was BIG. It was a great game--very competitive--but we pulled through and won 5-3.


We did a lot of practicing this season and finally started looking like a team. Everyone improved!


And we still know how to have the most fun too!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Break in Nola (Part 4)

I feel like our last day in Nola was spent driving in circles. I know my way around the city pretty well, but I have come to realize I really only know certain parts.

Anyway, our goal for the day was to hit the Nike Outlet store. (Yes, really.) Sutton's final request was a new pair of Nike shorts and Satchel wanted a new pair of "Elites." (Elites are the cool socks.) Traveling with an 9, 11 and 14 year old is a multi-layered challenge! Even just having to listen to their music in the car was a challenge!

I planned to take us to The Camellia Grill for breakfast/lunch before shopping, since I had to learn over and over that hungry children are cranky children, but in deciding to take Canal to Carrolton, we ended up at the Nike store first. Sutton didn't find the shorts she wanted, but Satchel got two pairs of socks and Jiro got two new t-shirts. By the time we got to the Camellia Grill, there was a line and the kids once again whined about waiting. So I said, "Fine, we will go where I want to go." I headed down St. Charles to Magazine to Juan's Flying Burrito. It's really not that close to where we were, but I really wanted to go there. Pretty sure their mid-city location might have been a bit closer. Oh well. (Full review to come.)

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It was busy too and had a wait, but we managed to get a table out back on the patio, which I did not know existed. Once everyone was fed, we were ready to go forth. By now Sutton had identified a running store on the opposit end of Magazine that sold the shorts she wanted, so we headed that way. Our mission was successful and we were told we missed seeing Will Ferrell by ten minutes. This fact alone totally excited the kids.

Our next stop was supposed to be Audubon Park to climb trees, but I never really found a good spot. Cousin Nancy had told me about the butterfly loop, but I couldn't find it. So, I just decided to take us back to City Park. It was a lot further away than I thought! Regardless, we made it, and had a great time in the sculpture garden.

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We had an afternoon snack of beignets and iced coffee at Morning Call in the park, which is supposedly the same, but different from, Cafe du Monde.

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Then the kids somehow talked me into going on a paddleboat.

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It was more work than we thought paddling around, but it was also lovely.

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Jiro was the stern and did a good job of navigating.

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Next time I think I'll splurge on one of these instead!

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By the time we were done paddling I was ready for a nap! Since we were super close to cousin Richard's house where we were having dinner, I opted to nap in the car while the kids ran around and climbed trees. I never actually napped, but I did get a few minutes of much needed quiet!!

We met up with Dick & Nancy at Richard & Beth's where we celebrated cousin Isabel's 12th birthday with a steak dinner. It was great to catch up with Richard & Beth. Sutton & the monkeys had fun seeing cousins their own age.

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Our last night in the apartment was super quiet. Everyone went into their own room and did their own thing. It was a pretty action packed week so I am sure we all needed some serious downtime and alone time.

We left Friday morning after a quick stop at Dorgnac's for some Delaware Punch. (Jiro named his twelve pack "Billy.") I still had several places where I wanted to eat, but the kids really wanted to hit the road. We made it home in a record breaking 5 hours!

Overall it was a great trip, but definitely the kind of vacation that you need a vacation to recover from! It was lovely to come home to a clean house (Thanks, Warren!) and take a nap in my own bed!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Break in Nola (Part 3)

On Wednesday we started our day of at Liuzza's by the Track. I had never been before and was super excited.

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Full review to come, but here is a shot of their signature bbq shrimp po-boy. It was awesome. But I had to declare myself fully shrimped out once I was done with it. (I only made it half way through.)

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And since we were so close to the track, we hopped on over to catch a few races. My grandfather always took me and my sisters when we were kids, so I was REALLY excited to take the monkeys.

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The first race only had three horses, so we bet on them all.

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As you can see, there were some pretty high stakes!

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The second race had five horses, so again we bet on all five! That brought our total winnings to $1.60 before Team Marlinee decided it was time to go. My kids really wanted to be with her kids 24/7, so I dutifully cashed in my winnings and left, but I wish we would have stayed longer.

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We went over to City Park to let the kids run around for awhile and re-visit the sight of Sutton's accident. (When we went 5 years ago, she chipped her tooth on this thing and we spent the afternoon having it reattached!)

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After getting enough fresh air, we went over to Angelo Brocato's for some spumoni. (More on this later!) This was suggested by my mom after we all went crazy for the spumoni at Pete & Sam's before leaving Memphis.

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After our treat, we headed back to the apartment for some serious napping. We probably should have all just stayed in bed and ordered in for food, but since it was our last night together (Team Marlinee was leaving Thursday) we rallied for one last big dinner at Casmento's. Only Casamento's closed at 2:00pm. Undeterred we headed over to Pascal's Manale. Only they had a huge wait for a party of ten. Due to severe behavior issues with Satchel, I decided to take my three charges elsewhere.

It's kind of a blur, but we somehow ended up at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. I tried to take us to Camelia Grill as Jiro had been begging to go, but Satchel & Sutton were pushing for pasta. (Sutton told me she was craving Olive Garden, and that was our only almost fight! Ha! I hope that there isn't even one in New Orleans.) Jiro decided to take one for the team after I promised to take us back to Camelia Grill for breakfast. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen is nothing special, but I got everyone fed and refocused on being cool. Thrilled by the behavior improvement I agreed to go back across the street to Cold Stone Creamery.

Yes, I let them have ice cream twice time in one day. The CFO signed off on it.

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Back at the apartment I ended up watching South Pacific with my cousins and the monkeys and Sutton watched Catching Fire on Cousin Dick's iPad.

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A little screen time was what we all needed, I guess.

The next morning Team Marlinee hit the road and I was again tasked with entertaining the children on my own. (It was really nice to be with Team Marlinee and be on task all of the time! She had everything all planned out for us.)

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Break in Nola (Part 2)

On Tuesday we decided to stay close to home. The plan was to walk to Mother's and then go to the Aquarium. Well, of course it was raining, so back in the car. (I am used to walking everywhere in Nola, which is a lot easier when it is just me.)

Anyways, Mother's is always a safe bet for a good meal. It was good to fill everyone's tummies before our action packed day, and also very nice to easily find a table for ten.

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Yes, that is the monkeys eating breakfast. I always get the shrimp po-boy and gumbo, natch. (Full review later.)

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(Mother's is also where I created my famous "Gumbo dance" in 1994.)

After brunch, we headed over to the Aquarium of the Americas.

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It's been several years since we went and while it is still lovely and interested the kids, I felt like it got smaller. Maybe because the kids are so much bigger? We were in and out in about thirty minutes, which seemed like a waste considering how expensive it is to get in.

But, there were lots of cool things to see! And now we know all about the reproductive organs of a jellyfish!

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It had stopped raining outside so I forced everyone to walk along the river and down to the French Market.

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After a couple of hours, everyone was begging to go home. We dropped off the boys and then me, Marlinee, Apiranee and Sutton went on a girls only shopping trip down Magazine Street. While out we accomplished Sutton's second goal--procuring a Vineyard Vines t-shirt. We also picked up a couple of margaritas at Juan's as well as some burritos for the big kids. Then we made a quick trip through Popeye's to get chicken for the little kids.

Back at the apartment we made sure everyone was fed, gave the older kids a two hour pass to go do whatever they wanted, and then the adults went out for our one big dinner of the trip. It was hard to decide, but we chose Restaurant R'evolution. We couldn't get a last minute reservation so we high-tailed it over early to get a table in the bar area.

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The restaurant was awesome: fantastic menu, great service, amazing ambiance. We were in heaven. I really loved the Espresso-crusted Venison Carpaccio, but I think the winning dish was the Death by Gumbo. It was a roasted quail that had been deboned and stuffed with andouille and oysters and other gumbo delights. The servers brought it over in a bowl and then poured file over it. When you cut into it, all of the gumbo madness came out.

We were joined after dinner by Memphis friends Brad & Natalie. After a few drinks, we were invited to Brad's family's apartment that overlooks Jackson Square. The weather was still amazing so we sat on the balcony and chatted until the clock struck twelve and it was time to go back home.

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I can't wait to go back to Nola and make a proper reservation at R'evolution!

Stay tuned for more...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break in Nola (Part 1)

For spring break, the monkeys, my niece and I headed to New Orleans. We met up with my buddy, Marlinee, her hubs, and their four kids. For those of you counting, that is 3 adults and 7 kids! Quite a change from my past few visits to Nola! We all stayed at my cousin's apartment in the CBD so it was extra fun.

Team Marlinee arrived on Friday and we rolled in Saturday around 6:30pm. We had a 7:00pm dinner reservation at the High Hat Cafe, so I literally pulled up to the apartment, unloaded the kids and luggage, parked the car and hailed a taxi.

This was the first order of business.

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The owners of the High Hat hail from Memphis, so you may recognize this.

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I thought for sure it used to be on Main Street, but Facebook crowdsourcing said Linden. Regardless, the High Hat was a great place for our first meal. The service was outstanding!! I had gumbo and a shrimp po-boy, which is my standard fare in Nola. The kids ate grilled cheese sandwiches because they were upset about the $15 cab fare. (Jiro was officially Spring Break CFO!)

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Between courses, Marlinee entertained us.

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(I enjoyed my dinner, but clearly the fancier fare on the menu is what makes High Hat a must visit. I was very jealous of Max and Marlinee's plates of pasta and scallops, although Joseph said he "won" dinner with his pork plate.)

After dinner we took another taxi (our last) back to the apartment and settled in. Team Marlinee soon returned and the kids all settled in with their various electronics. (We had two Wii-U's, a laptop, multiple iPhones and iPads.) Since everyone was getting along so well, the adults decided to stroll around the corner to the Roosevelt and have a night cap at the Sazerac Bar.

Sunday morning we walked to Cafe Beignet in the Quarter for breakfast. By this time, Satchel decided he wanted to see how long it would take to make me mad. You know, just for fun. I interpreted this to mean he was really hungry and did not let him break me! Everyone was all smiles after eating and we headed back to the cars for our main activity of the day--touring the "Brad Pitt" houses in the Ninth ward.

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Marlinee made sure everyone was getting a good understanding of what happened during Katrina, and we enjoyed strolling around the neighborhood for awhile.

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We agreed that we all need a house with a party roof, whether hurricanes came to Memphis or not.

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Next we went to the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. It was really well put togther.

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We had one final stop at the House of Dance & Feathers, which is a Mardi Gras Indian S & P Club Cultural Education Center.

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Then we headed back over the bridge to the Bywater. Since my favorite popsicle place, Meltdown, is on the way, we stopped for a quick treat. (The owner moved the store from the Quarter last fall. And yes, she totally knows me because I never miss visiting her when I am in town!) Salted caramel is still the favorite! (Here's an old review.)

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From there we headed a few blocks over to Amy's house to visit with her family and check out the newly opened Bywater section of Crescent Park. The kids were anxious to go to the park, so we sent them over and spent some time chatting at Amy's house. When we met up with them an hour later, they were sorely disappointed. When I say "park" they hear "playground"! But trust me, it is lovely--especially for walking or picnicking.

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We also learned that beignets and popsicles are not enough food to keep this crew going all day. I mean look at the size of these two!

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Luckily my second favorite Bywater locale, Pizza Delicious, is adjacent to the park. (I reviewed it here!)

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After dinner we were all pretty worn out. The evening was spent relaxing back at the apartment. I did manage to sneak out for one drink with Amy & John at my favorite watering hole, Bar Tonique.

Monday was Swamp Tour day! I have been to Nola a million times but never once I have I been on a swamp tour. I was pretty excited. We filled a cooler and got sandwiches to go from the restaurant downstairs, oddly named The Store and headed to La Place. Or Hammond. I don't know, I just followed Max's minivan to Cajun Swamp Tours.

We had a short wait, which just enough time for a picnic.

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And staged photos.

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The swamp itself was quite picturesque, and we had pefect weather.

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At 2:15pm we loaded onto a large pontoon boat with a very chatty and friendly guide named Brandon. He brought along some critters to keep us company between alligator sightings.

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Don't worry, the nutria above is stuffed!

After the tour, Team Marlinee decided to hit the Whole Foods in Metairie so Max could make dinner for the kids. I made a detour to Cold Stone Creamery since it was Sutton's only request.

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Back at the apartment we did a little resting and got the kids fed. (Thanks, Max!)

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The adults headed uptown to Lilette. Only once we got there, Marlinee worried we were under dressed, so we went next door to The Bouligny Tavern, which is the sister restaurant. The weather was grand, so we sat outside. It was a little dark to read the menu, and these two immediately pulled out their flashlight apps.

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(I was hoping for a monocle.) The food was good, but we definitely did not eat enough of it!

After dinner we went by the Bulldog for more patio sitting and a night cap.

Stay tuned for more Nola action...
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